Four Temperaments

  • Choreographer: George Balanchine
  • Music: Paul Hindemith
  • PBT Performance Date: March 1996

Program Notes

Commissioned from composer Paul Hindemith, The Four Temperaments was choreographed in the late 1940’s by the legendary George Balanchine.  Both score and ballet are loosely based on the medieval theory that four basic fluids, or temperaments, determine the personality.  The work includes three themes and four variations that correspond to basic human moods–sanguinic, bright and happy; choleric, quick to anger; melancholic, gloomy and dejected; and phlegmatic, slow moving and apathetic.

George Balanchine’s genius for translating music into movement shines in this ballet–his choreography shades each of the musical variations with movements that clearly illustrate the essential coloring of each human temperament.  Because this work uses the ballet vocabulary set in a modern dance framework, it was hailed as an ingeniously inventive work during its 1946 premiere.  Today, The Four Temperaments remains one of Balanchine’s most unique ballets.