This touching and witty gothic fairytale tells the story of a boy created by an eccentric inventor who dies leaving him alone and unfinished. Left with only scissors for hands, Edward must find his place in a strange new suburban world where the well-meaning community struggles to see past his strange appearance to the innocence and gentleness within. Two feuding street gangs, the Jets and the Sharks, are on a collision course in the gritty slums of New York City.
Out of the chaos, a passionate romance blooms between Tony and Maria, teenagers caught on opposite sides of the turf war. But can they find a place for their love amid the prejudice and turmoil that surrounds them? Near is in her 18th season as artistic director of San Jose Rep, where she has directed more than 30 productions.
Most performances are at the Intiman Theatre at Mercer St. For more information, call or go to www. Producer David O. Through the tragic downward spiral of the central character, Bigger Thomas, Wright reveals the impact of white racism on the black psyche. Set in the small town of Maycomb, Ala. Based on the novel by Elizabeth Spencer, the musical by Craig Lucas and Adam Guettel that premiered at Intiman in and received six Tony Awards for its Lincoln Center production two years later, returns to Seattle for a special homecoming. Featuring new songs and orchestrations, a revised book and a new physical production, the musical is co-presented by Broadway Across America, Seattle; Intiman Theatre; and Seattle Theatre Group.
Intiman will announce one additional production for the season at a later date. All plays are subject to change. Following a staged reading, the audience participates in a moderated discussion with the actors, director, and playwright when local. The format of the discussions provides a unique forum for audience and artists to further explore relevant issues in more depth. They open doors to new ways of seeing and thinking, entertaining while enlightening, in provocative and challenging yet accessible ways. Unless otherwise noted, performances are at Pigott Auditorium on the campus of Seattle University, 12th Ave.
For more information, go to www. As news of the birth travels, Carol and her daughter Abby quickly learn that many American Indian tribes believe the birth of a white buffalo calf signifies the return of peace on earth. Shelita Burns, an African-American editor, publishes the best-selling memoir of a year-old black woman named Libby Price, whom she has never met. When the book wins a prestigious award, Shelita decides to deliver it in person.
Upon meeting the reclusive author, Shelita finds herself grappling with painful questions of race, literary license, honesty, celebrity and money. A patient awakens from the first-ever brain transplant to find himself in a serious period of adjustment. He struggles to integrate the incomplete memories of one man with the physical history of another. At the age of 35, Martin Luther King Jr. When notified of his selection in , he announced that he would contribute the prize money to the furtherance of the civil rights movement. A white inner-city school teacher has been murdered.
Yvonne, a young black journalist exiled to the Outlook section of The Daily, cracks the story with a sensational scoop. When her credentials come under scrutiny, the plot takes a ripped-from-the-headlines turn, blurring fact and fiction, morality and ambition. A fast-paced tale of media integrity, race relations and newsroom politics. A work to be announced, March Arman, a writer struggling to reorient himself in the face of professional and romantic success, meets a tree-sitter whose commitment to the forest causes him to re-examine the tradeoffs that support his good fortune. Arman then reaches for the thing outside himself, the commitment that will set his life in motion once again.
In its 19th season, the annual lecture series may be the largest and most successful in the country. All lectures take place at Benaroya Hall, University St. Tickets to single events go on sale Wednesday. Frank Rich, Oct. Edwidge Danticat, Jan. Suzan-Lori Parks, Feb. Jonathan Lethem, April Lethem, a MacArthur Fellow, has nine imaginative novels to his credit in addition to short stories and essays. For ticket information, call or go to www. Harriet loves Halloween. What she does not love is having to share her Halloween candy — with anyone. Her schoolmates turn their backs on her selfish ways.
Harriet realizes nothing is sweeter than a true friend. Years before coming to the land of Thessaly, Jason heard tales of familial treachery. Jason makes a bargain with his scheming uncle — to sail in search of the famed golden fleece, which imbues its wearer with vitality and power. His uncle promises that in exchange for the fleece, Jason will become king. Young, hungry, and on his own, Charles finds himself in a mystical woods with talking plants and animals. Charles also gets a glimpse of Marguerite, the queen of the forest.
He is astounded at her powers. Margue-rite can see potential in the strange young boy. After many mistakes, Charles finally does right by Marguerite after learning the valuable lesson of listening. A place where toys come to life, pictures are filled with real people, and the little mouse who visits the toy house is a best friend. Hillary, Alison and Jane are three best friends.
This poignant tale shares the message that all children deserve the comfort and safety of home. Because of the bravery and generosity of spirit of Han, and his pet pig Ping, the Hermit saves the city from the Wild Horsemen and, at last, reveals her true dragon form. Addy Walker is 9 and growing up in slavery during the Civil War. Her life changes the day Poppa and her brother, Sam, are sold from their North Carolina plantation. Momma and Addy realize they must run before they lose each other, too. They flee to Philadelphia. Seattle Public Theatre Seattle Public Theater is a mid-size nonprofit professional theater on the shores of Green Lake, specializing in mainstage theater, youth theater education, late night improv and music.
The theater is The Bathhouse, a historic brick building on the northwest shore of Green Lake at W. Green Lake Drive N. The box office number is , or go to www. By Harold Pinter. By David Sedaris. By Barbara Robinson. By Tom Stoppard. By Diana Son. By Athol Fugard. The audience is invited to join Thom as he explores lost love and childhood foibles, and the anxieties brought on by them.
It is an odd and intoxicating affirmation of the value of being alive. In this first authorized adaptation since , Simon Levy brings the humor, irony, pathos and loveliness of this American classic to the stage. Katia is struggling to write a personal essay required for her college application. As Katia fights against the postmark deadline, anxiety and emotions lurking beneath the surface begin to erupt. Jo and Sam are having a party. Then an unexpected guest and her mysterious companion arrive.
Will she bring Jo comfort? Are Jo and Sam ready to accept what this lady has to offer? This is a long-awaited revival of this rarely produced stunner by Edward Albee. Lewis is a mathematics professor, restless during a night of personal and professional crisis. He has inadvertently conjured his ancestors. As four generations prod him with their disquieting stories of slavery, black power and academia, he begins to understand what it means to be black, both then and now. Rachel Corrie, 23, a graduate from The Evergreen State College, went to the Gaza Strip to aid Palestinians whose homes were being destroyed in the conflict with Israel.
In March of , she was killed by an Israeli bulldozer. Written by August Wilson. Aunt Ester claims to be years old in , and a survivor of the first slave ships to come to America. As a revered elder in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, she is also regarded as a washer of souls. When Citizen Barlow comes seeking sanctuary for a recent crime, Aunt Ester knows that the cleansing of his troubled soul will require a connection to his ancestors and to his history.
So as the sound of the voices of men and women long dead transforms her parlor into a slave ship, she guides Citizen to experience, and understand, the sacrifices of his predecessors. The box office phone number is or go to their Web site at www. A royal family is torn apart when jealous King Leontes imprisons his pregnant wife, Hermione, for infidelity and exiles his newly born daughter.
Sixteen years later in a far-off land, a young girl raised by two shepherds falls for a prince. In their love lies the key to a magical reunion. A fantastical fable of love and the power of forgiveness. Artistic Director Stephanie Shine re-stages her award-winning Colorado Shakespeare Festival production set in a seaport town of the early 19th century filled with pirates, wanton women, shady dealings and newfound independence. A colorful, freewheeling comedy. A ruthless lord seizes the throne with the help of his scheming wife and a trio of mystical witches.
Sir Peter Teazle marries a young country girl and is then horrified when she joins a clique of gossiping socialites led by Lady Sneerwell. Behind-the-scenes intrigues, devious relatives, and forked-tongue characters make this a deliciously amusing play. Seattle Theatre Group Seattle Theatre Group, which operates the historic Paramount and Moore theaters, has a packed performance season with 52 extraordinary engagements.
The Paramount Theatre is at Pine St. For more information call Ken Burns has been making documentary films for more than 30 years. Long before that girl from Kansas arrives in Munchkinland, two girls meet in the land of Oz. One, born with emerald-green skin, is smart, fiery and misunderstood. The other is beautiful, ambitious and very popular. How these two grow to become the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good Witch makes for the most spellbinding new musical in years. Carlos Mencia, Sept. Those with an original, distinctive point of view break through.
A handful will rise to the top, eventually becoming household names. Carlos Mencia has the rare gift of insightful perception and precise delivery and is one of the fastest rising stand-ups on the scene today. An American icon joins the audience for an evening of music, memories, stories and laughter. Lisa Lampanelli, Oct. For the better part of a decade, in clubs and theaters across the country, Lampanelli has been calling audience members colored, queer, bald, fat and old. Do they get offended?
On the contrary, they laugh uncontrolla-bly. If you would like to contribute to the continuation of this Prize, do please get in touch. An end of term talk and recital celebration with smoked salmon sandwiches and a glass of wine! The celebrated American painter John Singer Sargent — was also an accomplished musician and would often interrupt his work to play the piano.
After an attempt to expose the crimes of the corrupt prison governor Pizarro, Florestan finds himself unjustly imprisoned and in mortal danger. Amid rumours of his demise only one person, his wife Leonora, suspects the truth. A deeply moving story of love and faith, Fidelio is a tale of personal sacrifice, heroism and human aspirations for justice. They join forces again for this new production of Fidelio , asking what could drive one to deny freedom from another — and what imprisonment and longing mean to all of us.
In aid of Christian Aid. Set in a suburban American town, the piece criticises post-war American materialism using several different musical styles. Andrew Davidson. Email Lis. To book. Strauss: Morgen! More info. Frontiers Festival, Birmingham. Hi Sophie my dear — do you have any tickets left for your Recital at the Beacon on 24th May? Hope all is good with you. Love, J. What incomparable instrumental writing is Bach's.
You can smell the resin in his violin parts, taste the reeds in the oboes. I am always interested and attracted by new instruments new to me but until the present I have been more often astonished by the new resources imaginative composers are able to discover in "old" instruments. Man fuhrt sogar Schonberg auf, das tolle Melodram Pierrot lunaire. And not yet full now either. For example, Boulez's third piano sonata is quite as purely "pianistic" as an Stude by Debussy, yet it exploits varieties of touch attack untried by Debussy and exposes in its harmonics a whole region of sound neglected until now.
These aspects of the piece are secondary, however, to the aspect of its form; always close to Mallarmean ideas of permutation, Boulez is now nearing a concept of form not unlike that of the idea of Un Coup de Des; not only does the pagination of the score of his third piano Sonata resemble the Coup de Des "score," but Mallarme's own preface to the poem seems as well to describe the sonata: 31 Conversations with Igor Stravinsky ".
Thus an "old" instrument, the piano, interests me more than an Ondes Martinot, for instance, though this statement is in danger of giving the impression that I am thinking of instrumentalism as something apart from musical thoughts. What motivated you to compose new sextus and bas- sus parts for the lost ones in Gesualdo's motet a sette? When I had written out the five existing parts in score, the desire to complete Gesualdo's harmony, to soften certain of his malheurs, became irresistible to me.
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One has to play the piece without any additions to under- stand me, and "additions" is not an exact description; the existing material was only my starting point: from it I recomposed the whole. The existing parts impose definite limits in some cases and very indefinite ones in others. But even if the existing parts did not rule out academic solutions, a knowledge of Gesualdo's other music would. I have not tried to guess "what Gesualdo would have done," however— though I would like to see the original— I have even chosen solutions that I am sure are not Gesualdo's.
And though Gesualdo's seconds and sevenths justify mine, I don't look at my work in that light. My parts are not attempts at reconstruction. I am in it as well as Gesualdo. The motet would have been unusual, I think, with or without me. Its form of nearly equal halves is unusual, and so is its consistent and complex polyphony. Many of the motets employ a more simple chordal style, and with so many parts so close in range one would expect a treatment of that sort: Gesualdo's music is never dense.
The bass part is unusual too. It is of bass-ic importance as it seldom is in Gesualdo. His madrigals are almost all top-heavy and even in the motets and responses the bass rests more than any other part. I don't think I am reading myself into Gesualdo in this instance, though my musical think- 33 Conversations with Igor Stravinsky ing is always centered around the bass the bass still functions as the harmonic root to me even in the music I am composing at present. But this motet which might be Gesualdo's ultimate opus would lead him to unusual things by the mere fact of its being his unique piece in seven parts.
By the same reasoning, I con- tend that the lost volume of six-voice madrigals contains more complex, more "dissonant" music than the five-voice volumes, and the one reference we have to any of the madrigals in that book, to Sei disposto, bears me out; even his early six-part madrigal Donna, se mancidete has a great number of seconds besides those which are editors' errors. I would like to point out the very dramatic musi- cal symbolization of the text that occurs at the dividing point of the form. The voices narrow to three I am sure Gesualdo has done something simi- lar when at the words "seven-fold grace of the paraclete" spread to seven full polyphonic parts.
I hope my little homage to Gesualdo and my own interest in that great musician will help excite the cupidity of other Gesualdines to the search for his lost work: the trio for the three famous ladies of Ferrara; the arias mentioned in Fontanelli's letters; and, above all, the six-part madrigals.
This music must be in the Italian private libraries. When Italy has been catalogued everything will reappear; re- cently Hotson, the Shakespearian, found a letter in an Orsini library describing an Orsini ancestor's impres- sions of a performance in Elizabeth's court of what must have been the first night of Twelfth Night.
Gesualdo was well related in Naples, in Ferrara, in Modena, in Urbino, even in Rome his daughter mar- ried the Pope's nephew. Let us begin there.
No composer has been more directly concerned with the problems of musical texts sung in translation. Would you say something about the matter? Let librettos and texts be published in translation, let synopses and arguments of plots be distributed in advance, let imaginations be appealed to, but do not change the sound and the stress of words that have been composed to precisely certain music at precisely certain places. Anyway, the need to know "what they are singing about" is not always satisfied by having it sung in one's own language, especially if that language hap- pens to be English.
There is a great lack of school for singing English, in America at any rate; the casts of some American productions of opera in English do not all seem to be singing the same language. And "meaning," the translators argument detre, is only one item. Translation changes the character of a work and destroys its cultural unity. If the original is verse, especially verse in a language rich in internal rhymes, it can only be adapted in a loose sense, not translated except perhaps by Auden; Browning's lines begin- ning "I could favour you with sundry touches" are a good example of just how extraordinary double- rhymed verse sounds in English.
Adaptation implies translation of cultural locale and results in what I mean by the destruction of cultural unity. For exam- ple, Italian prestos in English can hardly escape sounding like Gilbert and Sullivan, though this may be the fault of my Russian-born, naturalized-Ameri- 35 Conversations with Igor Stravinsky can ears and of my unfamiliarity with other periods of English opera if, after Purcell and before Britten, there were other periods of English opera. An example of translation destroying text and music occurs in the latter part of my Renard.
No translation of this passage can translate what I have done musically with the language. But there are many such instances in all of my Russian vocal music; I am so disturbed by them I prefer to hear those pieces in Russian or not at all. Fortunately Latin is still permitted to cross borders— at least no one has yet proposed to translate my Oedipus, my Psalms, my Canticum, and my Mass.
The presentation of works in original language is a sign of a rich culture in my opinion. And, musically speaking, Babel is a blessing. Do you remember your first attendance at a concert?
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My first experience of a public musical performance was at the Mariinsky theater in Saint Petersburg. My impressions of it are mixed with what I have been told, of course, but as a child of seven or eight I was taken to see A Life for the Tsar. We were given one of the official loges, and I remember that it was adorned with gilt "winged amours. The first concert of which I have any recollection was the occasion of a premiere of a symphony by Glazunov.
I was nine or ten years old and at this time Glazunov was the heralded new composer. He was gifted with extraordinary powers of ear and memory, but it was going too far to assume from that that he must be a new Mozart; the sixteen-year old 37 Conversations with Igor Stravinsky prodigy was already a cut and dried academician. I was not inspired by this concert.
Were you impressed by any visiting foreign musi- cians in your student days in Saint Petersburg? In the early years of this century most of the distin- guished foreign artists who came to Saint Petersburg made calls of homage to Rimsky-Korsakov. I was in his home almost every day of , , and , and therefore met many composers, conductors, and virtuosi there. Rimsky could speak French and Eng- lish, the latter language having been acquired during his term as a naval officer, but he did not know German. As I spoke the language fluently from my childhood, he sometimes asked me to translate for him and a German-speaking guest.
I remember meet- ing the conductors Artur Nikisch and Hans Richter in this way. The latter knew no word of any language but German, and Rimsky, with no German-speaking member of his family present, had to send for me. He and his music repulsed me in about equal measure. Alfredo Casella also came to Russia then, at the beginning of his career. I did not meet him at that time, but heard about him from Rimsky: "A certain Alfredo Casella, an Italian musician, came to see me today.
He brought me a complicated score of incredible size, his instrumentation of Balakirev's Islamey, and asked me to comment on it and to advise him. What could one say about such a thing? I felt like a poor little child" and saying so he seemed humiliated. I remember seeing Mahler in Saint Petersburg, too. Rimsky was still alive, I believe, but he wouldn't have attended be- cause a work by Tchaikovsky was on the program I think it was Manfred, the dullest piece imaginable. Mahler also played some Wagner fragments and, if I remember correctly, a symphony of his own.
Mah- ler impressed me greatly— himself and his conducting. Would you describe Rimsky-Korsakov as a teacher? He was a most unusual teacher. Though a professor at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory himself, he ad- vised me not to enter it; instead he made me the most precious gift of his unforgettable lessons These usually lasted a little more than an hour and took place twice a week. Schooling and training in orchestration was their main subject. He gave me Beethoven piano sonatas and quartets and Schubert marches to orchestrate and sometimes his own music, the orchestration of which was not yet published.
Then as I brought him the work I did, he showed me his own orchestra score, which he compared with mine, explaining his reasons for doing it differently. In addition to these lessons I continued my contra- puntal exercises, but by myself, as I could not stand the boring lessons in harmony and counterpoint I had had with a former pupil of Rimsky-Korsakov. What music of yours did Rimsky-Korsakov know? What did he say about it?
What were his relations with new music: Debussy, Strauss, Scriabin? When asked to go to a concert to hear Debussy's music he said, "I have already heard it. I had better not go: I will start to get accustomed to it and finally like it. His attitude toward Scriabin was 39 Conversations with Igor Stravinsky different. He didn't like Scriabin's music at all, but to those people who were indignant about it his answer was: "I like Scriabin's music very much.
He had seen the manuscript of my Scherzo Fantastique, but his death prevented him from hearing it. He never complimented me; but he was always very closemouthed and stingy in prais- ing his pupils. But I was told by his friends after his death that he spoke with great praise of the Scherzo score.
No, I wrote the Scherzo as a piece of "pure" sym- phonic music. The bees were a choreographer's idea as, later, the beelike creatures of the ballet to my string Concerto in D , The Cage, were Mr. I have always been fascinated by bees— awed by them after Von Fritsch's book and terrified after my friend Gerald Heard's Is Another World Watching— but I have never attempted to evoke them in my work as, indeed, what pupil of the composer of the Flight of the Bumble Bee would? I continue to eat a daily diet of honey.
Maeterlinck's bees nearly gave me serious trouble, however. One morning in Morges I received a star- tling letter from him, accusing me of intent to cheat and fraud. My Scherzo had been entitled Les Abeilles —anyone's title, after all— and made the subject of a ballet then performing at the Paris Grand Opera 40 About Musicians and Others Les Abeilles was unauthorized by me and, of course, I had not seen it, but Maeterlinck's name was mentioned in the program.
The affair was settled, and, finally, some bad literature about bees was pub- lished on the flyleaf of my score to satisfy my pub- lisher, who thought a "story" would help to sell the music. I regretted the incident with Maeterlinck because I had considerable respect for him in Russian translation. Sometime later I recounted this epi- sode to Paul Claudel.
Claudel considered Maeter- linck to have been unusually polite to me: "He often starts suits against people who say bonjour to him. You were lucky not to have been sued for the 'bird' part of the Firebird, since Maeterlinck had written the Bluebird first. The orchestra "sounds," the music is light in a way that is rare in compositions of the period, and there are one or two quite good ideas in it, such as the flute and violin music at no.
Of course the phrases are all four plus four plus four, which is monotonous, and, hear- ing it again, I was sorry that I did not more exploit the alto flute. It is a promising opus three, though. I see now that I did take something from Rimsky's Bumble Bee numbers in the score , but the Scherzo owes much more to Mendelssohn by way of Tchaikovsky than to Rimsky- Korsakov.
The progress of instrumental technique was illustrated to me by these recent performances in an interesting detail. The original score-written more than fifty years ago-employs three harps. I remember very well how difficult all three parts were for the harpists in Saint Petersburg in In I reduced the three parts to two for a new edition of the orchestral mate- 41 Conversations with Igor Stravinsky This bee-ology reminds me of Rachmaninov, of all people, for the last time I saw that awesome man he had come to my house in Hollywood bearing me the gift of a pail of honey.
I was not especially friendly with Rachmaninov at the time, nor, I think, was any- one else: social relations with a man of Rachmaninov's temperament require more perseverance than I can afford: he was merely bringing me honey. It is curi- ous, however, that I should meet him, not in Russia, though I often heard him perform there in my youth, nor later when we were neighbors in Switzerland, but in Hollywood. Some people achieve a kind of immortality just by the totality with which they do or do not possess some quality or characteristic.
Rachmaninov's immortaliz- ing totality was his scowl. He was a six-and-a-half- foot-tall scowl. I suppose my conversations with him, or rather with his wife, for he was always silent, were typical: Mme. Rachmaninov: What is the first thing you do when you rise in the morning? This could have been in- discreet, but not if you had seen how it was asked. Myself: For fifteen minutes I do exercises taught me by a Hungarian gymnast and Kneipp Kur maniac, or rather I did them until I learned that the Hungarian had died very young and very suddenly, then I stand on my head, then I take a shower.
Rachmaninov: You see, Serge, Stravinsky takes showers. How extraordinary. Do you still say you are afraid of them? And you heard Stravinsky say that he rial. Now I see that with a few adjustments the same music can be performed by one player, so much quicker are harpists at their pedals. What do you think of that? Shame on you who will hardly take a walk. Rachmaninov : silence I remember Rachmaninov's earliest compositions. They were "watercolors," songs and piano pieces freshly influenced by Tchaikovsky. Then at twenty- five he turned to "oils" and became a very old com- poser indeed.
Do not expect me to spit on him for that, however. He was, as I have said, an awesome man, and besides, there are too many others to be spat upon before him. As I think about him, his si- lence looms as a noble contrast to the self-approba- tions which are the only conversations of all perform- ing and most other musicians. And he was the only pianist I have ever seen who did not grimace. That is a great deal.
When you were a pupil of Rimsky-Korsakov, did you esteem Tchaikovsky as much as you did later, in the twenties and thirties? Then, as later in my life, I was annoyed by the too frequent vulgarity of his music— annoyed in the same measure as I enjoyed the real freshness of Tchaikov- sky's talent and his instrumental inventiveness , es- pecially when I compared it with the stale naturalism and amateurism of the "Five" Borodin, Rimsky- Korsakov, Cui, Balakirev, and Moussorgsky.
What was Rimsky-Korsakov's attitude to Brahms, and when did you yourself first encounter Brahms's mu- sic? I remember reading the notice of Brahms's death in New Time the Saint Petersburg conservative news- paper; I subscribed to it for Rozanov's articles and 43 Conversations with Igor Stravinsky the impression it made on me. I know that at least three years prior to it I had played quartets and symphonies by the Hamburg master. Brahms was the discovery of my "uncle" Alexander Ielatchich, husband of my mother's sister Sophie.
This gentleman, who had an important role in my early development, was a civil service general and a wealthy man. He was a passionate musical amateur who would spend days at a time playing the piano. Two of his five sons were musical, too, and one of them or myself was always playing four-hand music with him.
I remember going through a Brahms quartet with him this way in my twelfth year. Uncle Alex- ander was an admirer of Moussorgsky and as such he had little use for Rimsky-Korsakov. His house was just around the corner from Rimsky's, however, and I would often go from one to the other, finding it difficult to keep a balance between them. Rimsky did not like Brahms. He was no Wagnerite either, but his admiration for Liszt kept him on the Wagner-Liszt side of the partisanship. What opinion did you have of Moussorgsky when you were Rimsky-Korsakov's student? Do you remember anything your father may have said about him?
How do you consider him today? I have very little to say about Moussorgsky in con- nection with my student years under Rimsky-Kor- sakov. At that time, being influenced by the master who recomposed almost the whole work of Moussorg- sky, I repeated what was usually said about his "big talent" and "poor musicianship," and about the "im- portant services" rendered by Rimsky to his "em- barrassing" and "unpresentable" scores. Very soon I 44 About Musicians and Others realized the partiality of this kind of mind, however, and changed my attitude toward Moussorgsky.
As to my own feeling although I have little con- tact with Moussorgsky's music today , I think that in spite of his limited technical means and "awkward writing" his original scores always show infinitely more true musical interest and genuine intuition than the "perfection" of Rimsky's arrangements.
My par- ents often told me that Moussorgsky was a connoisseur of Italian operatic music and that he accompanied concert singers in it extremely well. They also said that Moussorgsky's manners were always ceremonious and that he was the most fastidious of men in his personal relations. He was a frequent guest in our house at Saint Petersburg. You often conduct Glinka's overtures. Have you al- ways been fond of his music? Glinka was the Russian musical hero of my childhood. He was always sans reproche, and this is the way I still think of him. His music is minor, of course, but he is not; all music in Russia stems from him.
In , shortly after my marriage, I went with my wife and Nikolsky, my civics professor at the University of Saint Petersburg, to pay a visit of respect to Glinka's sister, Ludmilla Shestakova. An old lady of ninety- two or ninety-three, she was surrounded by servants almost as old as herself and she did not attempt to 45 Conversations with Igor Stravinsky get up from her chair.
She had been the wife of an admiral and one addressed her as "Your Excellency. She talked to me about Glinka, about my late father whom she had known very well, about the Cui-Dargomizhsky circle and its rabid anti-Wag- nerism. Afterwards, as a memento of my visit, she sent me a silver leaf of edelweiss. Did you ever meet Balakirev? I saw him once, standing with his pupil Liapunov, at a concert in the Saint Petersburg Conservatory. He was a large man, bald, with a Kalmuck head and the shrewd, sharp-eyed look of Lenin.
He was not greatly admired musically at this time. It was or , and politically, because of his orthodoxy, the liberals considered him a hypocrite. His reputa- tion as a pianist was firmly established by numerous pupils— however, all of them, like Balakirev himself, ardent Lisztians; whereas Rimsky-Korsakov kept a portrait of Wagner over his desk, Balakirev had one of Liszt. I pitied Balakirev because he suffered from cruel fits of depression. You do not mention in your Autobiography whether you attended Rimsky-Korsakov's funeral?
I did not mention it because it was one of the un- happiest days of my life. But I was there and I will remember Rimsky in his coffin as long as memory is. He looked so very beautiful I could not help crying. His widow, seeing me, came up to me and said, "Why so unhappy? We still have Glazunov. Columbia Records Photo At Wiesbaden. A family portrait. Lausanne, With Diaghilev in Seville, Stravinsky and Rimsky-Korsakov at the teacher's home. What were Diaghilev's powers of musical judgment?
What, for example, was his response to Le Sacre du Printemps when he first heard it? Diaghilev did not have so much a good musical judgment as an immense flair for recognizing the potentiality of success in a piece of music or work of art in general. In spite of his surprise when I played him the beginning of the Sacre Les Augur es Printanieres at the piano, in spite of his at first ironic attitude to the long line of repeated chords, he quickly realized that the reason was something other than my inability to compose more diversified music; he realized at once the seriousness of my new musical speech, its importance, and the advantage of capi- talizing on it.
That, it seems to me, is what he thought on first hearing the Sacre. Was the musical performance of the first Sacre du Printemps reasonably correct? Do you recall any- thing more about that night of May 29, , beyond what you have already written? I was sitting in the fourth or fifth row on the right and the image of Monteux's back is more vivid in my mind today than the picture of the stage. He stood there apparently impervious and as nerveless as a crocodile.
It is still almost incredible to me that he actually brought the orchestra through to the end. I left my seat when the heavy noises began— light noise had started from the very beginning— and went back- stage behind Nijinsky in the right wing.
Nijinsky stood on a chair, just out of view of the audience, 47 Conversations with Igor Stravinsky shouting numbers to the dancers. I wondered what on earth these numbers had to do with the music, for there are no "thirteens" and "seventeens" in the metri- cal scheme of the score. From what I heard of the musical performance it was not bad.
Sixteen full rehearsals had given the orchestra at least some security. After the "perform- ance" we were excited, angry, disgusted, and. I went with Diaghilev and Nijinsky to a res- taurant. So far from weeping and reciting Pushkin in the Bois de Boulogne as the legend is, Diaghilev's only comment was "Exactly what I wanted.
No one could have been quicker to understand the publicity value, and he immediately understood the good thing that had hap- pened in that respect. Quite probably he had already thought about the possibility of such a scandal when I first played him the score, months before, in the east corner ground room of the Grand Hotel in Venice. Had you ever planned a Russian "liturgical ballet? No, that "liturgical ballet" was entirely Diaghilev's idea. He knew that a Russian church spectacle in a Paris theater would be enormously successful.
He had wonderful ikons and costumes he wished to show and he kept pestering me to give him music. Diaghilev was not really religious, not really a believer, I suspect, but only a deeply superstitious man. He wasn't at all shocked by the idea of the church in the theater. I began to conceive Les Noces, and its form was already clear in my mind from about the beginning of At the time of Sarajevo I was in Clarens. I needed Kireievsky's book of Russian folk poetry, from which 48 About Musicians and Others I had made my libretto, and I determined to go to Kiev, which was the only place where I knew I could get it.
I took the train to Oustiloug, our summer home in Volhynia, in July After a few days there I went on to Warsaw and Kiev where I found the book. I regret that on this last trip, my last view of Russia, I did not see the Vydubitsky monastery which I knew and loved. On the return trip the border police were already very tense. I arrived in Switzerland only a few days before the war— thanking my stars. Incidentally, Kireievsky had asked Pushkin to send him his collection of folk verse, and Pushkin sent him some verses with a note reading, "some of these are my own verses; can you tell the difference?
Of your early contemporaries, to whom do you owe the most? Do you think Debussy changed from his contact with you? I was handicapped in my earliest years by influences that restrained the growth of my composer's tech- nique. I refer to the Saint Petersburg Conservatory's formalism, from which, however— and fortunately— I was soon free. But the musicians of my generation and I myself owe the most to Debussy. I don't think there was a change in Debussy as a result of our contact. After reading his friendly and commendatory letters to me he liked Petroushka very much I was puzzled to find quite a different feeling concerning my music in some of his letters to his musical friends of the same period.
Was it duplicity, or was he annoyed at his incapacity to digest the mu- sic of the Sacre when the younger generation enthusi- astically voted for it? This is difficult to judge now, at a distance of more than forty years. I can imagine that you spent incomparable moments with the three puppets. There is in it a kind of sonorous magic, a mysterious transformation of mechani- cal souls which become human by a spell of which, until now, you seem to be the unique inventor. Finally, there is an orchestral infallibility that I have found only in Parsifal.
You will understand what I mean of course. You will go much further than Petroushka, it is certain, but you can be proud already of the achieve- ment of this work. I am sorry, please accept my belated thanks in acknowl- edging your kind gift. But the dedication gives me much too high a place in the mastery of that music which we both serve with the same disinterested zeal.
Unhap- pily, at this time, I was surrounded with sick people! Especially my wife who has been suffering for many long days I even had to be the "man about the house" and I will admit to you at once that I have no talent for it. Since the good idea of performing you again is talked about, I look forward with pleasure to see you soon here. Of course, if we begin, you wishing to understand and I to explain why I haven't written yet, our hair will fall out. And then, something marvellous is happening here: at least once a day everyone talks about you.
I have threatened her with torture, but she goes on, insisting that you will "find it very beautiful. It haunts me like a beautiful nightmare and I try, in vain, to reinvoke the terrific impression. What most impressed me at the time and what is still most memorable from the occasion of the sight reading of he Sacre was Debussy's brilliant piano playing. Recently, while listening to his En blanc et noir one of which pieces is dedicated to me , I was struck by the way in which the extraordinary quality of this pianism had directed the thought of Debussy the composer.
As soon as I have a good proof copy of Jeux I will send it to you I would love to have your opinion on this "badinage in three parts": while speaking of Jeux, you were surprised that I chose this title to which you pre- ferred The Park. I beg you to believe that Jeux is better, first because it is more appropriate, and then because it more nearly invokes the "horrors" that occur among these three characters.
Very affectionately from us three to you and your wife. Your very old friend Claude Debussy 3 15th May Dear Friend, My telephone doesn't work and I fear you have tried to call without success. If you have seen Nijinsky and if he signed the papers please give them to the chauffeur. It is urgent that they are at the Societe des Auteurs before five o'clock. Thank you, your old Debussy. This note, brought by Debussy's chauffeur, refers to forms from the Societe des Auteurs Debussy had given me to give Nijinsky, the co-stage author of Jeux. I was seeing Nijinsky every day at this time, and Debussy was only sure of reaching him through me.
I still consider Jeux as an orchestral masterpiece, though I think some of the music is "trop Lalique. Then, of course, they could be strung into a necklace. Perhaps this is not much consola- tion? The music from the Roi des Etoiles is still extraordinary.
It is probably Plato's "harmony of the eternal spheres" but don't ask me which page of his. And, except on Sirius or Aldebaran, I do not foresee performances of this cantata for planets'. As for our more modest Earth, a performance would be lost in the abyss. I hope that you have recovered. Take care, music needs you. Kindly convey my respects to your charming mother and best wishes to your wife.
He was obviously puzzled by the music and nearly right in predicting it to be unperformable— it has had only a few perform- ances in very recent years and remains in one sense my most "radical" and difficult composition. Naturally, people who are a little bit embarrassed by your growing mastery have not neglected to spread very discordant ru- mours—and if you are not already dead it is not their fault. I have never believed in a rumour— is it necessary to tell you this? Also, it is not necessary to tell you of the joy I had to see my name associated with a very beautiful thing that with the passage of time will be more beautiful still.
For me, who descend the other slope of the hill but keep, however, an intense passion for music, for me it is a special satisfaction to tell you how much you have en- larged the boundaries of the permissible in the empire of sound. Forgive me for using these pompous words, but they exactly express my thought. You have probably heard about the melancholy end of the Theatre des Champs Elysees? It is really a pity that the only place in Paris where one had started to play music honestly could not be successful. May I ask you, dear friend, what you propose to do about it?
I saw Diaghilev at Boris Godunov, the only performance it had, and he said nothing In any case are you com- ing to Paris? If you are annoyed to answer. This very moment I received your postcard— and I see by it, dear friend, that you never received my letter. It is very regrettable for me— you are probably very angry with me. Perhaps I wrote the address incorrectly. And also, Oustiloug is so far away. I will not go to Lausanne— for some complicated reasons which are of no interest to you. This is one more reason for you to come to Paris— to have the joy of seeing each other. Know that I am going to Moscow the first of December.
I gather you will not be there? Believe me that for this reason my journey will be a little more painful. I wrote to Koussevitzky asking him for some necessary information- he does not answer. As for the "Societe de la Musique Actuelle" I want to do my best to be agreeable and to thank them for the honour they want to bestow on me. Only I don't know if I will have enough time to stay for the concert. My wife and Chouchou send you their affectionate thoughts and ask not to forget to give the same to your wife.
Dear Stravinsky. You have acquired the habit since child- hood to play with the calendar and I confess that your 56 About Musicians and Others last card confused me. At the same time I received a tele- gram from Koussevitzky telling me that I am expected in Moscow December 3 new style.
As the concert in St. Petersburg is the 10th you can see that I will not have time to do anything. Are you recovered from your cold? I heartily hope so. If you have nothing better to do I ad- vise you to go to Moscow. It is a marvellous city and you probably don't know it very well. You will meet there Claude Debussy, French musician, who loves you very much.
I had some news from your friends, who, I don't know why, kept the state of your health and your residence a mystery. We are all doing somewhat better, or in other words we are like the majority of the French people. We have our share of sorrows, of spiritual and domestic difficulties. But this is natural now that Europe and the rest of the world think it necessary to participate in this tragic "con- cert. As you wrote to me "they will be unable to make us join their madness. But one must open one's eyes and ears to other sounds when the noise of the cannon has subsided!
The world 57 Conversations with Igor Stravinsky must be rid of this bad seed. We have all to kill the mi- crobes of false grandeur, of organized ugliness, which we did not always realize was simply weakness.