Stravinsky Retrospectives

By Ethan Haimo; Paul Johnson | Go to book overview

criteria whereby such suspected influences can be isolated and identified. In a study of this sort, no individual example could be conclusive in isolation. Rather, the range of examples introduced by Claudio Spies creates the framework for a proper understanding of the degree and type of influence exerted on Stravinsky by Rimsky, Tchaikovsky, and others. The comparison of dozens of works creates, in the most effective manner, the proper context for judging how Stravinsky "borrowed" from his predecessors.

A specific kind of Russian influence is seen in Stravinsky's text setting, as Richard Taruskin demonstrates. One of the criticisms leveled against Stravinsky's vocal music is that his text setting is crude, violating the natural rhythms of the text. It has also been asserted that this is particularly so in those of his compositions that use non-Russian texts, the implication being that there might be a more orthodox treatment in those works where the language was Stravinsky's native tongue than in those whose texts were in the languages that Stravinsky learned with varying degrees of fluency after leaving Russia. Taruskin effectively demolishes these criticisms, showing that it was not difficulties of language that determined the character of his text settings but rather conscious compositional decisions. By looking chronologically at Stravinsky's Russian text settings, Taruskin shows that the alleged crudities were deliberate, and that understanding their compositional purpose is crucial to understanding the stylistic development of Stravinsky's rhythm.

Whether or not Stravinsky will eventually be viewed as a "fiery beacon" or will be consigned to the "margins of history" is beyond our ability to foretell. What we can hope is that through this collection we will contribute to a better understanding and appreciation of his music, and through that process keep our relationship to the past as constructive and vivid as was Stravinsky's. It is to that end that we present these studies.


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The seven papers of this volume were originally presented at the Stravinsky Centennial Conference at the University of Notre Dame, November 22-23, 1982. In addition to the seven lectures, two concerts and a panel discussion were presented. The Alice Tully Foundation is to be thanked for its generous financial assistance, as is the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts of the University of Notre Dame. In addition, the editors would like to thank Calvin Bower, chairman of the Department of Music at the University of Notre Dame for his support of this enterprise. Carl Stam, conductor of the Notre Dame Chorale, presented a fine concert of Stravinsky's choral works at the conference. Celia Felix typed and proofread the

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