Moscow City Symphony Orchestra

Categories: ComposersNeptune

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice by Paul Dukas on June 20, 2012 at the Moscow International House of Music. Dukas was a French composer born in 1865. He started composing at the age of 14 and by 16 he had enrolled at the Paris Conservatoire. At 17 years old, he wrote his first two adult compositions, overtures to Goethe’s Götz von Berlichingen and Shakespeare’s King Lear. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice first debuted in May 18, 1897 at the Société Nationale de Musique, Paris. This piece is well known for its use in the movie Fantasia in 1940, just five years after Dukas’ death.

The piece is inspired by Goethe’s poem, “Der Zauberlehrling”, which translates to “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”.

The poem is about a sorcerer who left his apprentice to do chores and while he was gone the apprentice used magic and lost control. Some events that happened during this time was in May 1897, Dracula was released and Oscar Wilde was released from prison. The National Youth of Great Britain performed The Planets by Gustav Holst in August 2016 at the Royal Albert Hall.

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Gustav Holst is an English composer born in 1874. As a child, Holst took piano, violin, and trombone lessons because his father thought it would alleviate his asthma. Holst began composing at the age of 12. The Planets was composed in 1916 but wasn’t played in full until 1918 as it was a seven-movement suite.

It first premiered at the Queen’s Hall with a private audience on September 29, 1918. John Williams most recognizable piece is “The Imperial March”, which he took inspiration from Mars.

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The Planets are based on astrology rather than astronomy, and correspond with the planet’s astrological character. Some events that happened during this time was the start of Russian Civil War and the Flu Pandemic of 1918. What I appreciate in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice was around 2:00 when the melody was being played and the tempo picked up. The lady playing the glockenspiel was also really impressive with how quick she was playing it. The piece is a little repetitive but overall it was still a great performance.

The repetitiveness of the piece and the tempo picking up actually made the piece significant in the way that you could hear and visualize the apprentice and the brooms going out of control. Which was Dukas intent as because it was the poem that inspired him to write this piece. In The Planets, I appreciate the performers and the conductor for playing and conducting this piece because it literally took fifty-five minutes and it was just amazing. At 21:37, the transition was very well done, and I just love the melody. What I didn’t appreciate was “Venus, the Bringer of Peace,” because it was adagio. “Neptune, the Mystic,” was also adagio but when Holst had written it as the finale so it made sense. I also didn’t like Pluto because it’s not even a planet anymore and Holst didn’t even compose it.

On a more serious note, Pluto just doesn’t make sense because it was originally supposed to end with Neptune. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and The Planets are both great pieces but are strikingly different from one another. The Planets was composed in the early 20th century and is in that style. While Sorcerer’s Apprentice was composed in the romantic period but is in an early 20th century style. The Planets is a seven-movement suite with tempos that range from adagio to vivace.. Each movement corresponds with a planet and their characteristics and is played to how Holst had interpreted them. For instrumentation, The Planets calls for a large orchestra and for a chorus. In The Sorcerer’s Apprentice the tempo accelerates and is a lot more giocoso. It’s played to Dukas’ interpretation of the poem.

For instrumentation, Sorcerer’s calls for a normal orchestra. The opening for both pieces are somewhat similar in the way that they start out very light and piano then crescendo over time. The development however is very different because Sorcerer’s crescendos and gets faster until the finale while Planets has different movements and goes from allegro to adagio to vivace and allegro. The ending for Planets is more gradual while Sorcerer’s is more grand and forte. Paul Dukas was born to a cultured Parisian banker and his mom was the musician of the family but passed away when he was just five years old. Gustav Holst’s father was the musician in his family and taught him piano. Holst also took violin and trombone lessons because his father thought it would lessen his asthma. Holst began composing at 12 years old, while Dukas started when he was 17 years old. Dukas tried to compose operas and sonatas but ended up destroying many of his works.

One of his works, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice became well known with its use in Fantasia but it had happened five years after his death. Holst however was much more successful with his works and fame. His composition of The Planets and his Hymn of Jesus became well known internationally and received acclaimed performances. The piece I liked best was The Planets by Holst. I loved how there are seven movements and that each one was about a planet and its characteristics. With each movement tells a different story and emotions that portrays the astrological character of the planet. Both pieces are very well composed but I prefer The Planets as it consists of a more in depth meaning to it and it has Jupiter which is just a masterpiece on its own.

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Moscow City Symphony Orchestra. (2022, Jan 08). Retrieved from

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