20 February 1877

Tchaikovsky’s ballet Swan Lake receives its premiere at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.

“Swan Lake” is one of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s most famous ballets, composed in 1875–1876. It tells the story of Odette, a princess turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer’s curse, and Prince Siegfried, who falls in love with her.

Here’s an overview of the plot:

Act I: Prince Siegfried is celebrating his coming of age. His mother, the Queen, tells him he must choose a bride at the royal ball the following evening. Siegfried, feeling pressured, goes hunting with his friends. He chases a flock of swans to a lake and aims to shoot them but refrains when he sees one transform into a beautiful woman, Odette. She explains her plight to him: she and her companions are under the spell of the sorcerer Rothbart, condemned to be swans by day and women only by night.

Act II: Prince Siegfried attends the royal ball with his friends but is disheartened by the women presented to him as potential brides. Rothbart, disguised as a nobleman, arrives with his daughter Odile, who looks strikingly similar to Odette. Siegfried, deceived by Rothbart’s magic, declares his love for Odile, unknowingly breaking his vow to Odette. This action dooms Odette and her companions to remain swans forever.

Act III: Realizing his mistake, Siegfried rushes back to the lake to find Odette and beg her forgiveness. Despite her love for him, Odette knows they cannot be together because of Rothbart’s curse. In some versions, Siegfried and Odette choose to die together by leaping into the lake, while in others, they defeat Rothbart, breaking the curse and finding eternal peace.

Tchaikovsky’s score for “Swan Lake” is renowned for its lush melodies, stirring emotions, and evocative use of leitmotifs to represent characters and themes. The ballet is also notable for its demanding choreography, particularly in the roles of Odette/Odile and Prince Siegfried.

“Swan Lake” premiered at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow in 1877, but it wasn’t until a revised version by choreographers Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov premiered at the Imperial Ballet in St. Petersburg in 1895 that it achieved widespread popularity. Today, “Swan Lake” remains a staple of classical ballet repertoire and continues to captivate audiences worldwide with its timeless tale of love, betrayal, and redemption.

9 July 1877

The inaugural Wimbledon Championships begins.

The Wimbledon Championships is one of the oldest and most prestigious tennis tournaments in the world. It is held annually in Wimbledon, a suburb of London, England. Wimbledon is one of the four Grand Slam tournaments in tennis, along with the Australian Open, French Open, and US Open.

The tournament is played on grass courts, which is a unique feature of Wimbledon. The grass surface gives the tournament a distinct style and is considered to be the traditional surface for tennis. The tournament takes place over two weeks in late June and early July, culminating in the finals of the men’s and women’s singles events.

Wimbledon has a rich history dating back to 1877 when the first championships were held. It is known for its traditions and formalities, such as the strict dress code for players, the consumption of strawberries and cream by spectators, and the royal patronage it receives.

The tournament consists of five main events: men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s doubles, and mixed doubles. The most prestigious and highly anticipated event is the singles competition. Wimbledon has seen the rise of numerous tennis legends who have left their mark on the tournament, including players like Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams, and Venus Williams.

The tournament has its own unique scoring system. Matches are played in a best-of-five sets format for men’s singles and doubles, while women’s singles and doubles follow a best-of-three sets format. The final set, however, has no tiebreaker and is played until one player or team achieves a two-game advantage.

Wimbledon is known for its iconic venues, such as Centre Court and Court One, where the most high-profile matches are held. Centre Court, in particular, has a retractable roof that allows matches to continue even in inclement weather, ensuring that the tournament stays on schedule.

The prize money for Wimbledon is among the highest in tennis, with significant increases in recent years to bridge the pay gap between male and female players. The tournament also awards the winners of each event with a prestigious trophy. The men’s champion receives the Gentlemen’s Singles Trophy, commonly known as the Wimbledon Trophy, while the women’s champion receives the Venus Rosewater Dish.

Wimbledon attracts millions of spectators from around the world and is watched by millions more on television. The tournament’s rich history, traditions, and high-quality tennis make it one of the most eagerly anticipated events in the tennis calendar and a highlight of the British sporting summer.

9 July 1877

The first Wimbledon Tennis Championships begins.

On 9 July, 1877 the first Championships began at the All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon.

It is the oldest tennis championship in the world, and is the only ‘grand slam’ event played on grass.

There was only one event in 1877 – the gentlemen’s singles. A field of 22 took part, having paid the one guinea entry fee. It was won by 27-year-old Old Harrovian and ex-Surrey country cricketer, Spencer Gore, who defeated William Marshall 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 in front of a crowd of around 200 spectators.

Entrance fee for spectators was a shilling, and the prize for the winner was £12 – roughly £1,300 in today’s money.

Things have changed greatly since then, of course. It’s much more lucrative, for one. This year’s singles winners took home £1,760,000. First round losers were given £27,000.

The number of spectators has gone up somewhat, too. At any one time, there are around 38,500 of them in the grounds, who get through 200,000 glasses of Pimms, 28,000 kilos of strawberries and 7,000 litres of cream. They bought 28,600 ‘official’ towels, and 10,000 umbrellas.

There is no information about what sort of profit the first championships made. But in 1879, the first year for which figures are available, there was a ‘surplus’ of £116. In 2013, that figure was £35,107,812 – 90% of that is handed over to the Lawn Tennis Association to be used to develop British tennis.

9 July 1877

The first Wimbledon Tennis Championships starts.

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On July 9, 1877, the All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club begins its first lawn tennis tournament at Wimbledon, then an outer-suburb of London. Twenty-one amateurs showed up to compete in the Gentlemen’s Singles tournament, the only event at the first Wimbledon. The winner was to take home a 25-guinea trophy.

Tennis has its origins in a 13th-century French handball game called jeu de paume, or “game of the palm,” from which developed an indoor racket-and-ball game called real, or “royal,” tennis. Real tennis grew into lawn tennis, which was played outside on grass and enjoyed a surge of popularity in the late 19th century.

In 1868, the All England Club was established on four acres of meadowland outside London. The club was originally founded to promote croquet, another lawn sport, but the growing popularity of tennis led it to incorporate tennis lawns into its facilities. In 1877, the All England Club published an announcement in the weekly sporting magazine The Field that read: “The All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon, propose [sic] to hold a lawn tennis meeting open to all amateurs, on Monday, July 9, and following days. Entrance fee, one pound, one shilling.”

The All English Club purchased a 25-guinea trophy and drew up formal rules for tennis. It decided on a rectangular court 78 feet long by 27 feet wide; adapted the real tennis method of scoring based on a clock face—i.e., 15, 30, 40, game; established that the first to win six games wins a set; and allowed the server one fault. These decisions, largely the work of club member Dr. Henry Jones, remain part of the modern rules.

20 February 1877

Tchaikovsky’s ballet Swan Lake is first shown at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.

Swan Lake is ballet by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, was composed in 1875–1876. The scenario, initially in four acts, was fashioned from Russian folk tales and tells the story of Odette, a princess turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer’s curse. The choreographer of the original production was Julius Reisinger. The ballet was premiered by the Bolshoi Ballet on 4 March 1877 at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, billed as The Lake of the Swans. Although it is presented in many different versions, most ballet companies base their stagings both choreographically and musically on the 1895 revival of Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, first staged for the Imperial Ballet on 15 January 1895, at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg. For this revival, Tchaikovsky’s score was revised by the St. Petersburg Imperial Theatre’s chief conductor and composer Riccardo Drigo.

The first show took place on February 20, 1877, and was a flop. The critics reviled the chief choreographer, Wentsel Reisinger, and were short on praise for Polina (Pelageya) Karpakova, the first interpreter of the main female part. The failure of the first show was detrimental for the immediate reputation of the ballet itself, and for quite some time nobody dared to stage it again.

It was this particular stage version that came to be admired as the pinnacle of Russian ballet. This production, as none other, was the perfect setting for many famous dancers to showcase their art. The Swan Lake is a unique and perfect creation, and despite the changing musical and dancing fashions, the performance of Odette and Odile parts is still considered a touchstone for the mettle of any serious dancer. The White Swan is truly a symbol of Russian Ballet, of its beauty and magnificence.

24 November 1877

The novel, Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell is published.

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Black Beauty, the fictional ‘autobiography’ of a talking horse, was published in November 24, 1877 and remains a favorite children’s book to this day. In this lesson, you’ll learn about the book’s plot and major events, get to know some of the main characters and test your knowledge with a quiz.The magical idea of talking animals in children’s fiction has a long history, but the novel often credited with popularizing the genre of the talking animal story is Black Beauty by English writer Anna Sewell. Sewell wrote Black Beauty in 1877, and it’s referred to as an animal autobiography because, unlike animal stories that describe a child’s interaction with an animal, the novel is narrated from the animal’s point of view. The literary technique of giving animals human characteristics, like the ability to speak, is called anthropomorphism.