Four Pieces from the Gayane Ballet Suite (for mallet percussion quartet)

-- Aram Khachaturian, arr. by Matt Springer

These four movements from Khachaturian's Gayane Ballet Suite are very well suited for this mallet percussion ensemble instrumentation, consisting of four players using glockenspiel, xylophone, vibraphone, and two 4-octave (C-C) marimbas (the music is written such that the two marimba players can use one marimba if necessary). It is rated for advanced high-school players and up.

Original Belwin edition (1994)

Re-released Khach-22 edition (2005)


Sheet Music Availability

Four Pieces from the Gayane Ballet Suite was premiered and recorded at Stanford University on May 24, 1992 (with supplemental recording the following week).  The sheet music was published by Belwin-Mills Publishing Co. (later Warner Bros.) in 1994.  The initial print run ended in 2001.  The sheet music was re-released in 2005 as a Khach-22 production and is available through the Steve Weiss Music percussion catalogue.

For non-percussionists:  What are these instruments?

Streaming audio of individual movements

For high-speed connections, use the mp3 links (may require you to download the free Quicktime Player; button at right)

For dial-up connections, you may need to use the RealAudio links (requires the free Real Media Player)   (trouble getting the RealAudio music to play?)

From live performance:  Greg Thomas, bells; Joe Kimura, xylophone/marimba; Matt Springer, vibraphone; Victor Lee, marimba

1.   Dance of the Rose Maidens mp3 RealAudio
2.   Lullaby mp3 RealAudio
3.   Dance of the Young Kurds mp3 RealAudio
4.   Lezghinka mp3 RealAudio

These recordings were derived primarily from the premiere performance of the music in 1992 at a public recital.  Despite the fact that it was not a professional performance, it is still a good source of interpretation for those who are unsure of how certain passages are meant to sound.  The recordings are for reference only and are not commercially available.

Download the detailed performance notes (also supplied with the sheet music)


Program notes:

The sounds and timbres of the four most commonly used mallet percussion instruments (bells/glockenspiel, xylophone, vibraphone, and marimba) can be combined to give a wide variety of effects.  It is a dangerous combination; if put together incorrectly, they can sound like a hailstorm on a Buick, but if done right, there are many beautiful and unusual effects that can add a novel twist to familiar pieces.  The action of the Gayane Ballet takes place at a Soviet collective farm that is home to various peoples of the Caucasus, providing an endless supply of national and ethnic musical styles.  The Dance of the Rose Maidens relies heavily on xylophone and bells in its original orchestral form, and is hence very well suited for mallet percussion orchestration.  The Lullaby, being a soft and pretty piece, posed a bigger problem regarding this orchestration.  I have attempted to solve this problem by moving the xylophone player to the marimba and using bells only for atmosphere and embellishment.  In the Dance of the Young Kurds, a very cute movement, I have made use of the unusual combination of xylophone and unpedaled vibraphone playing in unison, using pedal only for slurs.  The familiar Lezghinka, a fast and furious dance bordering on the barbaric, makes full use of the vivid color of music from the Caucasus region.  In its original form, it features a prominent snare drum that plays a continuous rhythm throughout the entire piece; that part has been broken up in this arrangement and handed back and forth between the instruments in various forms.

Disclaimer:  In 1982, I was a member of the Santa Clara Vanguard Drum & Bugle Corps, which did its own percussion version of several pieces from the Gayane Suite in the 1970s.  My arrangement is completely separate from theirs, consisting of different pieces with the exception of Lezghinka,which was arranged in an entirely different way.

Review from Percussive Notes Magazine, August 1995  p. 77:

Four Pieces From the Gayane Ballet Suite
Aram Khachaturian, Arranged by Matt Springer
$12.50, CPP/Belwin, Inc....

First, let it be noted that in this arrangement for mallet quartet of selections from the Gayane Ballet Suite, Matt Springer omits the best-known piece--the famous "Sabre Dance."  However, in this publication, which does include the "Dance of the Rose Maidens," "Lullaby," "Dance of the Young Kurds" and "Lezghinka," no one will even notice it is missing.  Springer utilizes his limited keyboard forces well, adapting Khachaturian's music to orchestra bells (player I), xylophone and marimba (player II), vibraphone (player III) and a second marimba (player IV), and tapering the length of the original to realistic proportions.  To the arranger's credit, the instrumentation seems appropriate for the selections he has adapted; for example, the sostenuto capabilities of the vibes are used to good advantage in "Lullaby."  Four college or advanced high school mallet percussionists can draw a great deal of pleasurable music from this tidbit borrowed from the orchestral repertoire.   --John R. Raush


(alternate spellings: Gayaneh, Gayne)

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