Ballet as a music form progressed from simply a complement to dance, to a concrete compositional form that often had as much value as the dance that went along with it. The dance form, originating in France during the 17th century, began as a theatrical dance. It was not until the 19th century that ballet gained status as a “classical” form. In ballet, the terms ‘classical’ and ‘romantic’ are chronologically reversed from musical usage. Thus, the 19th century classical period in ballet coincided with the 19th century Romantic era in Music. Ballet music composers from the 17th–19th centuries, including the likes of Jean-Baptiste Lully and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, were predominantly in France and Russia. Yet with the increased international notoriety seen in Tchaikovsky’s lifetime, ballet music composition and ballet in general spread across the western world.
Until about the second half of the 19th century the role of music in ballet was secondary, with the main emphasis on dance, while music was simply a compilation of danceable tunes. Writing "ballet music" used to be a job for musical craftsmen, rather than for masters. For example, critics of the Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky mentioned his writing of ballet music as something demeaning.