From the CUWE program archive:
In 1910, Igor Stravinsky (b.1882 in Russia, d.1971 in New York) premiered The Firebird ballet with the Ballet Russe, and it became an international success. Although he was not well known before this, Stravinsky became one of the most famous modern Russian composers. He is also acclaimed for his ballets Petrouchka (1911) and The Rite of Spring (1913). Stravinsky received little early musical training, and it was not until he studied under the great Russian composer Rimsky-Korsakov that his musical talents became ignited. Stravinsky arranged three suites that highlighted excerpts from The Firebird ballet. This afternoon, we will be playing the “Berceuse and Finale” from the suite. Based on a Russian folktale, The Firebird tells the story of Prince Ivan’s encounter with “a fabulous bird with plumage of fire.” The bird gives Ivan a magic feather that he may use in the face of danger. Afraid of being turned to stone by an evil King, Ivan uses the magic feather and the Firebird appears to help him. In the “Berceuse and Finale”, the Firebird frees all who have been turned to stone, and Ivan wins the hand of a lovely princess.
author unknown (not me), from the Spring 2004 “Russian” concert program.
That pretty much says it all. Below are some links. Bear in mind that this piece is performed so often that most links are advertisements for performances or recordings of the work! I will do my best to omit those below.
The ballet and concert suites on Wikipedia.
The folk tale upon which the ballet is based, also on Wikipedia.
Extensive program notes on the ballet from the Kennedy Center.
Igor Stravinsky in the Time 100, remembering the greatest figures of the 20th century, by composer Philip Glass.
The “Lullabye and Final Hymn” (“Berceuse and Finale” as we know them) conducted by the man himself, Maestro Stravinsky at age 82!! Things I love about this performance: Stravinsky’s minimal and nearly affect-less conducting; the endless tempo in the Lullabye section; Stravinsky’s only change of facial expression at the very end of the Finale; the comically short quarter notes in the final section (which we will not replicate!); the fact that Stravinsky walks with a cane, but does not need it when conducting. Enjoy this true gem of a video!
The complete ballet, company and orchestra unknown:
This was a Senior Choice for hornist Justine Ordinario ’09.