Jump to content


New Stravinsky biography, volume 2


  • Please log in to reply
4 replies to this topic

#1 bart

bart

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,320 posts

Posted 25 July 2006 - 07:04 PM

The August 10 NY Review of Books has a review (by Michael Kimmelman) of the second volume of Stephen Walsh's biography of Igor Stravinsky, Stravinskky: the Second Exile: France and America, 1934-71.

Here's a LINK to the article, as long as it's online:

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/19193

One of the odd thing about this review, for a ballet fan, is that there's only one short reference to the relationship between Stravinsky and Balanchine, and almost nothing beyond that about ballet in general.

As someone who first heard Stravinsky at the NYCB, I formed an image of him that was inseparable from Balanchine and ballet. Balanchine/Stravinsky was how I thought of it. Only when I went to college did I learn that Stravinsky had composed other works completely unrelated to -- or not yet set to -- Balanchine ballets.

Walsh apparently spends a lot of time criticising and debunking Robert Craft's various biographical writings about his (Craft's) mentor, employer, and friend Stravinsky. According to Walsh, Craft's work is "riddled witih bias, error, supposition, and falsehood." For those of us who remember the long and wonderful New Yorker memoirs written near the end of Stravinsky's creative life, this may come as a shock. It certainly encourages me to obtain this volume -- and volume one, as well.

Has anyone read this -- or volume one? Any thoughts?

#2 Quiggin

Quiggin

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 833 posts

Posted 10 November 2006 - 03:53 PM

I haven't read Stephen Walsh's Second Exile, but was intrigued by the recent TLS review by composer Hugh Wood. "Agon" is mentioned as the highlight of Stravinsky's late period.

Yes, it is indeed strange that dance doesn't exist for many musicians and music writers, or have any physical basis for them, even with the terms tanze, muzurka, tarrantella, courante, allemande right in front of their eyes.

Here are some excerpts from the review:

The story is told with great clarity, ease, grace and wit: the lightly ironic tone of some passages could have been caught from Stravinsky himself. One might be reading one of the great nineteenth-century novelists. Walsh presents a huge cast of characters round the main figure, deploying them with great skill: not many biographers have the gift of bringing even the minor figures they are writing about so vividly alive for us. And he has the ability and the will to empathize as well as to judge, and to extend an over-arching Tolstoyan sympathy to all the personages of the drama.

* * *

There was to be a moment of Agony in the Garden, or rather the Mojave Desert, when Stravinsky declared himself finished as a composer, broke down and wept – the vulnerable and insecure side of him for once breaking surface. But this was shortly followed by plans for the Cantata – a sort of resurrection of the spirit: “the Easter vigil had for him, that year, a special significance”. The extraordinary artistic rejuvenation that followed proved that “old men ought to be explorers”. Among the last works, Agon shines brightest in its vitality, its invention and its vivid instrumental sense.

* * *

Some years ago, the present writer was travelling on a south London suburban train and overheard a conversation about music between two schoolboys. Eventually, summing up, one of them said, with the solemn conclusiveness of fifteen or sixteen years: “When you come down to it, man, there’s only two people who matter – Beethoven and Stravinsky”. Stephen Walsh’s book makes you feel he was right.


http://tls.timesonli...

There is also a good review on Elizabeth Gaskell by Heather Glen in the same TLS issue ("Elizabeth Gaskell's Resurrection").

#3 bart

bart

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,320 posts

Posted 11 November 2006 - 06:36 AM

Thanks, quiggen. That issue has not arrived in the mail, so it was good to see it on line.

For those who (like me) could not access the Link given, just go to:
http://www.tls.timesonline.co.uk/
and scroll down to the title of the Stravinsky. Click, and it will appear. P.S., there's also a review of a book on Copeland.

This will only hold until the next issue is posted. You have to be a subscriber to get access to archived articles. The TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT is not as well known in the US as the NY and London Revies of Books. But it's an incredible resource for world (not only Brit and US) literature and scholarship. And it has some excellent performance reviews (opera and theater mostly, but also ballet) as well.

#4 richard53dog

richard53dog

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,401 posts

Posted 11 November 2006 - 03:30 PM

Yes, it is indeed strange that dance doesn't exist for many musicians and music writers, or have any physical basis for them, even with the terms tanze, muzurka, tarrantella, courante, allemande right in front of their eyes.


It's possible that an additional element added to the music, such as dance, or singing, or even spoken word is a kind of corruption for purist musicians and musical writers. I'm all for hybrid forms but not everyone agrees.

Many musicians would rather hear the prelude and liebestod from Wagner's Tristan und Isolde performed in the arrangement that eliminates the soprano. And many prefer the Rite of Spring as a concert work.

So at this point I don't find it all that strange, it's too bad they are limiting themselves but there may be a bit of snobbery at work in the musical academia.

#5 bart

bart

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,320 posts

Posted 11 November 2006 - 05:01 PM

Many musicians would rather hear the prelude and liebestod from Wagner's Tristan und Isolde performed in the arrangement that eliminates the soprano. And many prefer the Rite of Spring as a concert work.

I do understand this -- it's possibly like listening to music with your eyes closed. Focusing down to the purely aural sensations.

For me, however, certain pieces of music are so associated with dancing that I find it hard to listen without imagining visual images that move: in other words, choreography.

Wait a minute! If it's okay to prefer Rite of Spring without the distractions of dance, would it also be okay to prefer a silent movie of the dancing without the distraction of the music. :flowers:


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):