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In The Weekly Standard --

Music's Greatest Ventriloquist: Robert Craft and his Stravinsky.

by Joseph Epstein


Epstein writes:

"A COMPLICATION ARISES, however, over the question of how much in these printed conversations is pure Stravinsky, how much is Stravinsky put through the filter of Craft, and how much might be Craft alone speaking through Stravinsky. (Craft also wrote longish, quite brilliant letters over the signature of Vera Stravinsky.) . . . People who have elsewhere recorded the composer's speech--see, for example, Paul Horgan in "Encounters with Stravinsky"--will recognize that, however brilliant and amusing he may have been, he was simply not capable of the subtleties of syntax, irony, and wit with which Craft has endowed him."

This reminds me of Kirstein and Balanchine.

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Craft is an intriguing guy--not that Stravinsky is not, of course. I recently read "Stravinsky; chronicle of a friendship, 1948-1971", in which Craft not only quotes Stravinsky at length and seemingly verbatim but also drops names as if he was being paid by the reference.

A lot of what Craft wrote may be seen by future generations as observations of not only the musical scene at the time he wrote but also the larger cultural and social milieu in which he (through Stravinsky) moved.

Craft's prose is sometimes ornate but it is well worth reading.

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"Pierre Lunaire"??

Perhaps kfw is referring to the fact that Kirstein did write and speak for Balanchine on occasion. Craft's non-Stravinsky writings are rather better than Epstein indicates, although I was not terribly impressed with his recent piece on Eliot in The New York Review of Books. I have always found his mania for obscure words annoying and distracting, however.

I took a look at the new memoir in the bookstore, and I'm afraid it didn't look good at all – a retread of "Chronicles of a Friendship," for the most part, and dully written, as if he didn't have much enthusiasm for the task.

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