When the impresario Sergei Diaghilev first heard Stravinsky’s music in St. Petersburg in 1909 it was a turning point for them both. For Stravinsky the commission to write a ballet for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes in Paris propelled him on to the international stage. For Diaghilev it was the beginning of a partnership that would produce the ballets by which he is best remembered. The Firebird, premiered in 1910, was an instant success and was followed by Petrushka in 1911 but it was Stravinsky’s third ballet for Diaghilev that was to go down in history. The Rite of Spring was so radically modern for its time that it nearly caused a riot at its premiere.
Stravinsky quickly turned to a new ballet subject, Les Noces, but it was not to receive its premiere until 1923. Stravinsky said:
When I first played Les Noces to Diaghilev... he wept and said it was the most beautiful and the most purely Russian creation of our Ballet. I think he did love Les Noces more than any other work of mine. That is why it is dedicated to him.