Sources of Inspiration for „Ohridska legenda“ by Stevan Hristić


  • Nadežda Mosusova



Hristić's "Ohridska legenda" (The Legend of Ochrid), Serbia's and Yugoslavia's national ballet, was first performed in Belgrade 1933 in one-act, and 1947 in its four-act, final, version. The sources for the ballet's inspiration are many as well as heterogeneous. Stevan Hristić (1885–1958) received the first stimulus to write "Ohridska legenda"in early 1920's from some Russian ballet-dancers who were overwhelmed by the beauty and dynamics of the folk dances in the Balkans. His cooperation with Russian choreographers and the idea of folk dances as a possibility of a novel scenic expression both inspired Hristić in his selection of melodies from the Balkan, especially Macedonian folklore. These formed the basis for the leitmotivs of the ballet (music examples 1–5) conceived on a synthesis of the variational and symphonic principles characteristic of the composers of Slavic national schools. Stevan Hristić, who took his studied in Moscow for some time, himself an authority in Russian music which he ardently propagated both as the director of the Belgrade Opera and as a performer/conductor, based his ballet (the subject of which is the rape of a damsel by the hands of the Turks, and her being rescued by resorting to magic) on a Russian model in following with the feature-length ballets by Pyotr Il'ych Tchaikovsky and Alexander Glazunov. Within this framework, Hristić managed in creating an original balance of pantomime (narration), drama (action) and purely musical expression forming a choreographic link both to classical ballet and folkloric lexis. The Oriental element in the music of "Ohridska legenda " (music examples 6 and 8) was inspired by the example of some Russian ballets on "Arabian" themes, such as „Shchelkunchik/Nutcracker“ by Tchaikovsky (Divertissement in Act II) and „Raymonda“ by Glazunov (Act II, music examples 7 and 9). This, however, is far from everything being said about the value of Hristić's ballet, if we are to conclude by quoting Slovenia's ballet master Pino Mlakar, who was the producer of „Ohridska legenda“ in Ljubljana.


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How to Cite

Mosusova, N. (1989). Sources of Inspiration for „Ohridska legenda“ by Stevan Hristić. Musicological Annual, 25(1), 67–79.