Lifar, Serge, 1905-86, Russian dancer, choreographer, director, teacher, and dance historian, b. Kiev. Lifar studied briefly with Bronislava Nijinska, but he was primarily self-taught. In 1923 he joined the Diaghilev Ballet Russe in Paris, for which he became premier danseur in 1925. He created the title role in George Balanchine's The Prodigal Son (1929). Lifar choreographed and staged Stravinsky's Le Renard (1929), and after Diaghilev's death in 1930 he joined the Paris Grand Opéra as principal dancer and ballet-master (1930-44). Celebrated for having revolutionized the French ballet, he is best known for his ballets Lucifer (1948), Phèdre (1950), Romeo and Juliet (1955), and Daphnis and Chloë (1958). Lifar is the author of many books on the dance.

See his autobiography (tr. 1970).

Koussevitzky, Serge (Sergei Aleksandrovich Koussevitzky), 1874-1951, Russian-American conductor, studied in Moscow. He began his career as a double bass player. In 1908 he made his debut as a conductor in Berlin. In 1910 he and his wife, Natalie, formed an orchestra that Koussevitzky conducted until 1918. In 1917 he was made conductor of the State Symphony Orchestra in Petrograd. Leaving Soviet Russia (1920), he stayed mainly in Paris until coming to the United States in 1924, becoming a citizen in 1941. He was conductor (1924-49) of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and also directed (from 1936) the Berkshire Symphonic Festivals, today known as the Tanglewood Music Festival. A champion of new music and the first important maestro to emphasize modern American music, he created (1942) the Koussevitzky Foundation to commission and perform new works by American composers.

See biographies by M. Smith (1947) and A. Lourié (1931, repr. 1969); study by H. Leichtentritt (1946).

Serge is a type of twill fabric that has diagonal lines or ridges on both sides, made with a two-up, two-down weave. The worsted variety is used in making military uniforms, suits, great and trench coats. Its counterpart, silk serge, is used for linings. French serge is a softer, finer variety. The word is also used for a high quality woolen woven.

Etymology and history

The name is derived from Old French serge, itself from Latin serica, from Greek σηρικος (serikos), meaning "silken" . The early association of silk serge, Greece, and France is shown by the discovery in Charlemagne's tomb of a piece of silk serge dyed with Byzantine motifs, evidently a gift from the Byzantine Imperial Court in the 8th or 9th century AD.

From early Saxon times, most English wool ("staples") was exported. In the early sixteenth century it went mainly to a Royal monopoly at Calais (then an English possession) and was woven into cloth in France or the Low Countries. However, with the capture of Calais by the French on 7 January 1558, England began expanding its own weaving industry. This was greatly enhanced by the European Wars of Religion (Eighty Years' War, French Wars of Religion); in 1567 Calvinist refugees from the Low Countries included many skilled serge weavers, while Huguenot refugees in the early eighteenth century included many silk and linen weavers. Denim is a cotton fabric with a similar weave; its name is believed to be derived from "serge de Nîmes" after Nîmes in France.

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