Ballet music is music specifically written to accompany dance performances in the theatre.
Ballet began in the late
renaissance period, and was greatly influenced in the early
baroque at the Versailles court of King Louis 14th of France. He was a dancer himself, nicknamed the Sun King because he danced the part of the sun god Apollo in 1653. Ballet evolved into an elaborate series of difficult movements and positions, requiring highly trained professional dancers. Ballet sequences in the baroque and classical period were often inserted into operas.
Romantic period, ballets were performed as a stage work featuring only the music and dancing, and this is the period when the most famous 'classical' ballets were written. Composers worked closely with choreographers and costume designers to create an integrated work of art. Adam wrote the music for Giselle,
Delibes wrote Coppelia, and, most famous of all,
Tchaikovsky wrote his 3 ballet masterpieces, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty and Nutcracker.
modern period, Stravinsky is pre-eminent as a ballet music composer, with Firebird, Petrushka, and Rite of Spring. The jagged rhythms and extreme discordances of his music for the Rite of Spring were designed to accompany some very violent scenes of primitive prehistoric rituals.