Historical perspectives on Adolphe Adam's "Le Diable a quatre"
Collins, Willa J.
Bailey, Walter B.
Master of Music
Composer Adolphe Adam is typically recognized and acknowledged only through Giselle, his most famous ballet. However, Adam's ninth ballet, Le Diable a quatre, though rarely remembered, is also a historically significant work. At the time of its premier in 1845, the story of this morality-comedy had been familiar to the Parisian public for nearly a century. Yet despite its "unromantic" qualities, Le Diable a quatre surpassed some of its contemporaries in longevity and remained in the Opera's repertory for a substantial period of time. In this study I offer a comparison of Le Diable a quatre with contemporary ballets, focusing on several historical perspectives and on critical and popular aesthetics of ballet and ballet music. Additionally, I include an overview of the score of Le Diable a quatre, a discussion of the historical significance of national dance in the Romantic ballet, and a discussion of Adam's significance within the musical canon.