The Cambridge Companion to Stravinsky

The Cambridge Companion to Stravinsky

The Cambridge Companion to Stravinsky

The Cambridge Companion to Stravinsky

Synopsis

Stravinsky's work spanned the major part of the twentieth-century and was engaged with nearly all its principal compositional developments. Reflecting the breadth of his phenomenal achievement, this Companion contains a wide range of essays in three broad sections covering the contexts within which Stravinsky worked--Russian, modernist and compositional, with his key compositions--Russian, neoclassical and serial, and with the reception of his ideas--through performance, analysis and criticism. The volume concludes with an interview with the composer Louis Andriessen and a major re-evaluation of "Stravinsky and us" by Richard Taruskin.

Excerpt

'A man has one birthplace, one fatherland, one country–he can have only one country–and the place of his birth is the most important factor in his life.' These words were uttered by Stravinsky at a banquet held in his honour in Moscow on 1 October 1962. The eighty-year-old composer had returned to his homeland after an absence of fifty years. In the intervening period he had acquired first French and then American citizenship, and developed an increasingly hostile attitude towards his native country and its culture. This hostility had been fully reciprocated by the Soviet musical establishment. Now, as the guest of the Union of Composers, Stravinsky was seemingly performing a complete volte-face by wholeheartedly embracing his Russian identity. For Robert Craft, his assistant and amanuensis, this was nothing short of a 'transformation', and he was astonished, not only to witness Stravinsky and his wife suddenly taking 'pride in everything Russian', but to observe at close hand how 'half a century of expatriation' could be 'forgotten in a night'. Craft's diary of the famous visit contains many revealing comments about a composer who was a master of mystification.

Like his younger contemporary Vladimir Nabokov, with whom there are some intriguing biographical parallels, Stravinsky did not care to be pigeon-holed or linked with any particular artistic trend after he left Russia. Above all, because of a sense of cultural inferiority which stemmed from the fact that Russia's musical tradition was so much younger than that of other European nations, he came to disavow his own musical heritage, which necessitated embroidering a complex tapestry of lies and denials. So proficient was Stravinsky in creating an elaborate smoke-screen about who he really was, in fact, that the highly controlled image he projected of his artistic independence remained largely intact for over two decades following his death in 1971. It is an achievement of the painstaking scholarship of Richard Taruskin and Stephen Walsh that in the twenty-first century we can now look behind Stravinsky's cosmopolitan façade to see the carefully concealed but manifestly Russian identity that lies behind it. The extent of the obfuscations and contradictions of Stravinsky's musical persona can be judged from the sheer scale of Richard Taruskin's efforts in unravelling them: his study runs to 1,757 pages, and does not explore works written after 1922. Stravinsky's habit of falsifying his own life story means that we must clearly treat all his pronouncements with circumspection, but his highly . . .

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