COMPOSED BY

Paul Dukas (October 1865 to May 1935) in 1912

DURATION

Approximately 3

Instrumentation

4 horns in F, 3 trumpets in C, 3 trombones, and 1 tuba.

SUMMARY OF THE COMPOSITION

Dukas’ last major work, La Péri (1912), is a 20-minute ballet written for dancer N. Truhanova, who also premiered the work at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris in the title role. It focuses on Prince of Persia and his search for immortality, where he finds the Flower of Immortality in the hands of a mythical peri who serves the God of Light. 

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About the Composition

Through an orchestra he called “a kind of translucent, dazzling enamel”, the prince’s search and desire for both the flower and the peri are illustrated by the dreamy, twirling impressionistic sounds, and at other times, by the intensely passionate sections.

The ballet, however, is preceded by a stunning brass fanfare, which Dukas added as an afterthought, to help the audience settle into their seats. It opens with glittering trumpet and horn calls as its primary theme, followed by a soft, subdued secondary theme, and picks up the opening theme again and culminates in a final brilliant trumpet call. The fanfare is also often performed separately. 

WHO IS ... PAUL DUKAS?

Suprising fun facts

  • His reputation rests only on a small number of compositions, including The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (1897) which was included in the 1940’s Walt Disney concert film, Fantasia.

  • He was incredibly self-critical, and he destroyed all of his unfinished works except for a few smaller works and sketches. He allowed only a small number of his works to be published.

  • Dukas learned to play the piano without displaying any exceptional gift.

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