Music and Ballet

On the day that the BBC Television Service re-opened in 1946, Margot Fonteyn danced for the few viewers with receivers. Almost ten years later, in April 1956, Margot Fonteyn returned to the BBC Television screen – but this time to dance for millions. In the years between, viewers had seen many ballets, with the television camera capturing to the full the poetry of the ballet-dancer’s movements. And alongside the prima ballerinas were the great figures of music who came to the studios to play or to sing.

Somes balances a prostrate Fonteyn on his knee
Margot Fonteyn and Michael Somes in the television programme marking the tenth anniversary of Covent Garden's re-opening after the war.

Not all the ballet was classical. The Paris Opera Ballet took a contemporary theme – the colour bar – and performed a ballet to the music of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.

– and there was Russian folk-dancing. The spectacular leap over the heads of the girl-dancers was a highlight of the programme presented by the Moscow State Folk-dance Company in November 1955.

A camera points at Menuhin

The television cameras take two views of the world famous violinist, Yehudi Menuhin, one of the great figures of music who have contributed to the success of Music for You.

Music and verse were combined in a programme in November 1954. The verse – a poem by Keats – was read by Claire Bloom.

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