Roussel's Bacchus et Ariane
Albert Roussel became a successful composer almost by accident. Born in 1869, he was a passionate mathematician and - perhaps improbably - navy man, who served several years aboard ships in the French colony of Cochinchina (now Vietnam).
It was only after resigning from the Navy at the age of 25 that Roussel turned to composition; yet still for several decades his pupils - among them Erik Satie and Bohuslav Martinu - were to be more feted than their teacher. This was to change with the debut of his ballet "Bacchus et Ariane" at the Paris Opera in 1931, choreographed by the great dancer Serge Lifar.
Stephen Johnson gets under the skin of the incisive, neo-classical elan of Roussel's masterpiece.