The Music —
Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake was composed in 1875 as a commission by Vladimir Petrovich Begichev, the intendant of the Russian Imperial Theatres in Moscow.
Swan Lake was unsuccessful in its first year of performance. Conductors, dancers and audiences thought Tchaikovsky's music was too complicated. Much is unknown about the original production of Swan Lake – no notes or instruction was written down.
Tchaikovsky was granted a great deal of control over the musical content. He thought that the swan represented womanhood in its purest form. The stories and legends of swan-maidens date as far back as ancient Greece; when the Greek god Apollos was born, flying swans circled above their heads.
Marius Petipa, Premier Maître de Ballet at the Russian Imperial Theatre extensively researched the production and along with Lev Ivanov, revived Swan Lake in 1895.