Music with Ease > Classical Music > Concert Guide: Nationalist Era > Symphonic Poem, A Sketch of the Steppes (Borodin)
Symphonic Poem, A Sketch of the Steppes
Alexander Porfirevich Borodin
The symphonic poem, "Dans les Steppes de l'Asie Centrale" ("On the Steppes of Central Asia") was written in 1880 for a series of tableaux vivants presented upon the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the reign of Alexander Second. The movement of the poem is an Allegretto, constructed upon two constrasting themes. It is in free form and an admirable example of program music. The program itself is printed upon the score and renders musical analysis unnecessary, as the music lucidly and unerringly suggest the development of the situation. The program reads:
Over the uniform sandy Steppes of Central Asia come the unwonted sounds of a peaceful Russian song. From the distance are heard the stamping of horses and camels and the peculiar sound of an Oriental melody. A native caravan draws near. It pursues its way, safe and free from care, through the boundless desert under the protection of Russian arms. It moves farther and farther off. The song of the Russians and the melody of the Asiatics combine to form a common harmony, the echo is gradually lost in the air of the Steppe.
The imitative characteristics of program music could hardly be more clearly expressed than they have been in this popular symphonic poem, or sketch, which is always welcome on concert stage.