Thursday, September 10, 2015

Stravinsky lost and found

A long-lost early work by Igor Stravinsky, “Pogrebal’naya Pesnya” (“Funeral Song”), has been found among uncatalogued manuscripts of scores at the St. Petersburg Conservatoire.

The 12-minute orchestral piece was written by the 26-year-old Stravinsky in memory of his principal teacher, Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov, and was given a single performance in January 1909, six months after Rimsky’s death. The score was thought to have been destroyed during the 1917 Bolshevik revolution or the subsequent Russian civil war.

“Funeral Song” is described as “a slow, unvarying processional with contrasting instrumental timbres: a dialogue of sonorities, very much as Stravinsky himself vaguely remembered it in his autobiography 25 years later. There are echoes of Rimsky-Korsakov [and] of Wagner, whose music Stravinsky admired more than he was later prepared to admit,” Stephen Walsh writes in an article for The Observer (UK):