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Sergei Pavlovich Diaghilev

editor , stage director , Ballet impresario

Sergei Diaghilev, USSR Ballet impresario, stage director, editor.


Diaghilev, Sergei was born on March 31, 1872 in near Novgorod. Son of a landowner.


Graduated in law from Petersburg University, 1896. Studied at the Petersburg Conservatory (pupil of Rimskii-Korsakov).


Grew up in Perm’. Organized and edited the arts magazine Mir Iskusstva (World of Art) with A. Benois, 1898-1904, which signalled the flowering of the arts in Russia at the beginning of the 20th century. Organized exhibitions, which made a great impact (Old Russian Portraits, Petersburg, 1905, Russian Art, Paris, 1906). By organizing the Russian Seasons in Paris, became a celebrity and drew the attention of the world to Russian art (symphonic concerts with Rimskii-Korsakov, Rachmaninov, Glazunov, Chaliapin, 1907, Russian opera, 1908, opera and ballet seasons, 1909).

Though not an artist himself, he had the rare talent of bringing different artists together and inspiring them (musicians, painters, dancers). His Ballets Russes, 1911-1929, re-awakened interest in ballet throughout the world. After the October Revolution 1917, Diaghilev stayed in the West and became practically homeless, until offered a base in Monaco.

Personal (stormy homosexual involvement with Nijinskii) and financial worries led to frantic efforts to keep up with modern trends in the late 1920s, efforts which were controversial and only partly successful. The bitterness of oncoming old age was to some extent relieved by his faithful last ballet star, Sergei Lifar. His last passion was collecting Russian antiquarian books.

In the last year of his life, involved with the young composer Igor Markevich.