Suite in five from the ballet
Written in 1910
Includes piano and celesta
I. Introduction – Kashchei’s Enchanted Garden – Dance of the Firebird
II. Supplication of the Firebird
III. The Princesses’ Game with Apples
IV. The Princesses’ Khorovod (rondo, round dance)
V. Infernal Dance of all Kashchei’s Subjects
There are also suites created in 1919 and 1945 for smaller orchestras.
While hunting in the forest, Prince Ivan strays into the magical realm of Koschei the Immortal, whose immortality is preserved by keeping his soul in a magic egg hidden in a casket. Ivan chases and captures the Firebird and is about to kill her, but she begs for her life and he spares her. As a token of thanks she offers him an enchanted feather that he can use to summon her should he be in dire need.
Prince Ivan meets thirteen princesses who are under the spell of Koschei and he falls in love with one of them. The next day, Ivan confronts the magician and eventually they begin quarrelling. When Koschei sends his minions after Ivan, he summons the Firebird. She intervenes, bewitching the monsters and making them dance an elaborate, energetic dance (the "Infernal Dance").
The creatures and Koschei then fall into a deep sleep. While they sleep, the Firebird directs Ivan to a tree stump where the casket with the egg containing Koschei's soul is hidden. Ivan destroys the egg and with the spell broken, the magical creatures that Koschei held captive are freed and the palace disappears. All of the "real" beings, including the princesses, awaken and with one final hint of the Firebird's music, celebrate their victory.
INSTRUMENTATION: 3 flutes (3rd doubling piccolo), additional piccolo, 3 oboes, English horn, 3 clarinets in A (3rd doubling piccolo clarinet), bass clarinet in B, 3 bassoons (3rd doubling contrabassoon), additional contrabassoon, 4 horns in F, 3 trumpets in A, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, bass drum, cymbals, xylophone, tambourine, chimes triangle, piano, celesta, 3 harps and strings