Arthur Saint-Léon

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Arthur Saint-Léon, 1865

Charles Victor Arthur Michael Saint-Léon (born September 17, 1821 in Paris , † September 2, 1870 ) was a French violinist, dancer, choreographer and dance theorist.


Arthur was the son of Léon Michel Saint-Léon, who was a "figurant" at the Paris Opera , and Adèle Joséphine Nicolau. He grew up in Stuttgart , where his father was employed as the dance master of the princesses for 14 years. He studied violin with Joseph Mayseder and Nicolò Paganini . In 1834 he made his debut as a 13-year-old violinist with a violin concerto by Pierre Rode in Stuttgart. Between 1840 and 1863 he composed a number of works for violin, but also for viola d'Amore.

As a dancer he made his debut on July 31, 1835 in Munich , together with Miss Scherzer in a pas de deux from Joseph Schneider's ballet The Traveling Ballet Society (music: Pentenrieder).

In 1837 the family returned to Paris, where Arthur continued studying dance and performing as a violinist. In 1838 he made his debut as a character dancer at the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels . He then went to Vienna (1841), Milan (1842), Turin (1841–1846) and Rome (1843), where Saint-Léon choreographed his first ballet “ La Vivandière ”. Dancing engagements followed in Venice, Florence, Turin, Hamburg, Berlin (1846/47: The Sutler and the Postillion), Paris, Stockholm, Madrid and London. In Vienna, Saint-Léon danced for the first time with the famous Fanny Cerrito as a partner. Both danced together very often in London. They soon became a couple in private, traveling together to Rome, Florence, Parma and back to London. A complete recording of the Pas de six in Saint-Léon's Sténochorégraphie exists for this ballet. The success of this ballet led her to tour England and Italy. They married on April 17, 1845 in the Église des Batignolles in Paris.

In 1847 Saint-Léon was commissioned by the Paris Opera to choreograph a new ballet with Cerrito as the dancer. He also brought the ballet Alma, ou La Fille de feu , which was created in 1842 by Cerrito and André Deshayes, under the new title La Fille de Marbre . The ballet - described enthusiastically by Théophile Gautier - was a great success. In Tartini Violinista (1848), Saint-Léon appeared in a double function as a dancer and violinist.

Cerrito and Saint-Léon then went to Venice, where they released three new ballets at the Teatro La Fenice . In March 1851 they parted artistically and privately. They danced one last time as a couple at a gala in October 1851. After that, Saint-Léon accepted the position of first ballet master and dance teacher at the Paris Opéra.

After a season in London, Saint-Léon went to Lisbon , where he performed new and old ballets for three years at the Teatro de São Carlos. He became a professor at the Lisbon Conservatory and received the Christ Order Cross from the Portuguese King. Financial difficulties forced him to tour Europe again until he became ballet master at the Imperial Theater in Saint Petersburg in 1859 . He held this position until his death, even if he did not live there. He is the first to put out a ballet on a Russian theme ( The Humpbacked Horse ). Since he only had to be present for six months at a time, he often traveled to Paris.

In 1865 Saint-Léon discovered the young German dancer Adèle Grantzow , whom he saw dancing in Hanover as early as 1858. He recommended her as a prima ballerina at the Moscow Bolshoi Theater , where she became his lover. On November 11, 1866, Saint-Léon's ballet La Source premiered in Paris. The Italian dancer Guglielmina Salvioni danced to the satisfaction of Adèle Grantzow, who had to return to Moscow due to her contract. Mme. Grantzow was also replaced by an Italian dancer at the Paris premiere of Coppélia , this time due to illness.

Saint-Léons was unable to follow up on his successes in Paris in Russia, where his works were rather poorly received. He went so far that he even challenged a critic to a duel. In 1866 the Paris Opéra commissioned him to choreograph Coppélia. Due to the constant travels between Paris and Moscow, the premiere could not take place until May 25, 1870. He died of a heart attack in Paris on September 2, 1870, just three months after the premiere of Coppélia .


  • 1843 La Vivandière (music: Enrico Rolland ), Rome; (later: Cesare Pugni)
  • 1845 Rosida, ou les Mines de Syracuse (music: Cesare Pugni ), London
  • 1846 The masked ball (music:?), Berlin
  • 1847 The flower girl in Alsace (music: Massimiliano Graziani , Conradi), Berlin
  • 1847 La Fille de marbre (music: Cesare Pugni after Michael Costa ), Paris
  • 1848 Tartini Violinista (music: Saint-Léon, Giovanni Felis, Cesare Pugni), Venice (= Le Violon du Diable , Paris 1849).
  • 1848 L'Anti-Polkista ed i Polkamani , Venice
  • 1850 Stella ou Les Contrabandiers (music: Cesare Pugni), Paris
  • 1850 Menuet, Gavotte et Polka, ou Jadis et aujourd'hui , Paris
  • 1850 L'Enfant Prodige (Divertissement in an opera by Aubert), Paris
  • 1851 Pâquerette (music: François Benoist ), Paris
  • 1851 Les Nations (music: cantata by Adolph Adam ), Paris
  • 1852 Le Berger Aristée et les abeilles (Divertissement in Halévy's opera 'Le juif errent'), Paris
  • 1853 Le Lutin de la vallée (opera ballet by Ernest Gautier ), Paris
  • 1853 Le Danseur du Roi (opera ballet by Ernest Gautier), Paris
  • 1854 La Roziere , Lisbon
  • 1854 Saltarello, ou o maniaco po la dança (music: Saint-Léon), Lisbon
  • 1854 Lia la bayadère , Lisbon
  • 1855 O ensaio geral, ou as afflicçoés de Zefferini (Pasticcio), Lisbon
  • 1855 Bailados allegoricos , Lisbon
  • 1856 O Triumvir amoroso , Lisbon
  • 1856 Os Saltimbancos, ou os processo do fandango (music orchestrated by Santos Pintos ), Lisbon
  • 1856 Meteora, ou as estellas cadentes (music: Santos Pintos), Lisbon
  • 1856 Stradella, ou o peder de musica (music: Santos Pintos), Lisbon
  • 1859 Jovita, ou les Boucaniers mexicains (music: Théodore Labarre), St. Petersburg
  • 1860 Graziella, ou les Dépits amoureux (music: Cesare Pugni), St. Petersburg
  • 1866 Le Poisson Doré (music: Ludwig Minkus), St. Petersburg
  • 1866 La Source (music: Léo Delibes and Ludwig Minkus), Paris
  • 1869 Le Lys (music: Ludwig Minkus), St. Petersburg
  • 1870 Coppélia (music: Léo Delibes), Paris


  • La Sténochorégraphie , 1852
  • De l'État actuel de la Danse , 1856
  • Théorie de la gymnastique de la danse théâtrale , 1859


  • Ivor Guest: Lettres from a Ballet Master. The Correspondence of Arthur Saint-Léon , 1981.
  • Flavia Pappacena (ed.): Arthur Saint-Léon. La Sténochorégraphie , Lucca 2006.

Web links