Stravinsky - Symphonies of Wind Instruments (Symphonies d'instruments à vent),
Grove article on Stravinsky (APU Campus only).
BBC Radio 3 Discovering Music Programmes on Stravinsky
- Why should we investigate Stravinsky?
- Why investigate the Symphonies of Wind Instruments?
- It was written in early 1920s and revised in the 1940s. Stravinsky dedicated it to Debussy.
- Folk music
- Look at Firebird, Petroushka, The Rite of Spring
- Look at Gabrieli Symphonies - article [APU campus only]. See also Stravinsky's Canticum Sacrum with regard to this.
There is evidently an element of folk music in the opening, with its 'wrong notes' and the flute and clarinet duos. The use of these types of dissonances: the contradiction between a major key and the key a minor third above this - in this case, G major and B flat major:
play it (midi file)
Stravinsky is not usually thought of as an especially nationalistic composers, and yet he was taught by Rimsky-Korsakov, he retained an enormous affection for Tchaikosky throughout his life, and one of the keys to his early success was the attraction of the concert-going public in Paris to the 'new' foreigners that were present at that time. See also, Diaghelev, Dada, Surrealism...
There is also an increased interest in structure.
Concerning The Rite of Spring, Stravinsky said that 'all he had was his ear', and that ballet is not really structured in any conscious way. However, in the complex tempo relations of the Symphonies we can perhaps see the results of a growing interest in the conscious use of structures.
There is also, perhaps, an element of eclecticism - in juxtaposition - that is symptomatic of what will happen in the future.
The beginnings of neo-classicism?
- How do you respond to the piece?
- Why do you think you respond in the way that you do?
- Why would anyone write material like this?
- How does style reach such levels of sophistication?
- Is it sophistication?
- Juxtaposition of varied material. Instead of attempting to move smoothly from one idea to another, maybe only using dramatic breaks in texture as a way of establishing formal outlines, Stravinsky used dramatic breaks, sudden silences and radical changes in texture a fundamental part of his writing. One effect of this is to create an atmosphere of objectivity, detachment and ritual.
- The use of bitonality, especially harmonically. Stravinsky would often use deliberately obscure 'voicings' in his chords. A favourite trick was to use the flattened third of a major chord in the bass.