Contemporary Music in Evolution; 10; 1918
This is Gunther Schuller continuing with the second and final program of the year one thousand nine hundred eighteen. The composer is represented tonight will be dahlias mean little and he goes drive and ski Stravinsky's productivity in those years. That is the final years of World War 1 was quite astounding. Within the span of three years and despite the physical and artistic deprivations caused by the war stuff composed of lane US ragtime and a number of other less important pieces. The most famous of these works is probably the story of a soldier or some people call a Soldier's Tale based on a Russian folk text. I just mentioned the deprivations and limitations imposed by war conditions. It is one of the most consistent phenomena in the history of the arts that limitations of one kind or another imposed from without. Very frequently provide the stimulus and challenge for artistic achievements which without these limitations would never have come to
pass. At least one of these is a case in point. It is specifically inspired and determined by certain conditions and practical considerations attendant to the war. As I am it is starvin ski's Swiss collaborator for us at least one puts it in his book souvenir of Igor Stravinsky and I'm quoting now the front hears. We're closing in on us more and more. A circumstance that made Stravinsky situation increasingly difficult. The adolescent ballet groups had suspended their activities. The theaters were virtually at a standstill. I recall that one day start in ski and I said to each other why not do something simple. Why not write a piece together which would dispense with a large hall and a vast public a peace guard for a few instruments and employing only two or three actors. We could just resume the tradition of the small itinerant theatres. The soul that was born of these practical
considerations the subject. From an enormous collection of Russian folklore we selected among a multitude of subjects so-called folk tales in which the devil invariably plays the principal role. The one about a soldier and his violin out adds an interesting comment to that. We selected it. That is the Soldier's Tale for a number of reasons. Among them the very incoherence of the story. In keeping with the extreme economy of approach Stravinsky scored the work for a septet of instruments and the staging was limited to four roles including an narrator. One of the seven instrumentalists was to be a percussionist who like the drummers in jazz music Stravinsky had just become acquainted with played a whole collection of instruments a trap set as the jazz drummers called it. The other six instruments were logically and ingeniously divided into three timers two instruments one high
and one low per tambour. The result was for the woodwinds for the woodwind tambour clarinet and bassoon for the brass color trumpet and trombone and for the string category a violin and double bass. The use of the bass was especially daring as most composers would have automatically use the cello the bass being extremely rare in chamber music and used only when a cello was also present. This instrumental ensemble also corresponded precisely to the sonorities which starvin ear has always preferred the clear relatively dry and impersonal sonority and the curious avoidance of the rich or even lush middle register instruments like the cello or the French horn. Story is he of course uses middle register pitches but invariably prefers them on instruments for whom those pitches will lie in their high or low range. This is one of the most remarkable aspects of
Stravinsky's music and one of its most innovation all characteristics characteristic to be found in all his music from the opening Hi bassoon in the sack at the plant down to the Contra bass trombone parts in the country cum cycle. Although conceived as incidental music for a play the music in fact became the play and in its final form and certainly as performed in concert versions is a kind of a suite. Here again Stravinsky achieved something quite remarkable. Both he and I mean the start of the Soldier's Tale as a universal tale. And indeed similar stories about the devil and the soldier who sells his violin which is really his soul runs through all the national folklore to ensure the universality of this theme not only avoided the use of Russian folk song material except for one little instance the soldier's fiddle to him. But he went further by implying a whole array of
international dance forms a Spanish Paso Doble or a Viennese Waltz an Argentine Tango and the American ragtime rhythms. The miracle is of course that the music is not a mere pot pourri of dances but is wondrously integrated within the common denominator of Stravinsky's own style. I have mentioned before on these programs that it was the works of this period in Stravinsky's that alienated many of his erstwhile supporters after the cataclysmic outburst of the Soka the sensuous beauty of the Firebird. These later work seemed like mechanical cold and impersonal deviations to some of these people. This feeling still persists among many musicians as well as the general public. A word about the aesthetic involved in list might not be amiss then at this time. People who accuse the Stravinsky of least of writing cold
music simply have not listened carefully and sensitively. There are undoubtedly people who associate feeling in music or emotional music with obvious dramatic outbursts loud climaxes lush and sensuous romantic ideas and the rest. Not that these elements are in themselves bad in the hands of many great composers they have generated unquestioned masterpieces. But such an approach is not necessarily everyone's approach. This difference has been characterized by many artists including star in ski in terms of the ancient Greek concepts of the Apollonian and ironies Ian. On these philosophical terms writers like Thomas Mann have juxtaposed Schiller and Mozart and Beethoven Brahms and Wagner starvin skin Sharon Baird Kandinsky and Picasso and so on ad libitum allowing for a certain amount of oversimplification of course the first thing to recognize then is
that certain creative spirits do not wish to wear their emotions on their sleeve. The second thing is to realize that that fact does not therefore automatically mean that the word in question is without feeling. The problem I think is strictly with the beholder not with the Creator. There is in the struggle a subtle undercurrent of poignancy a touching combination of sadness and wryness moods which we already know from Patricia the emotional content is not paraded as a thing in itself but is embodied in a desire for clarity and purity in itself and aesthetically an emotionally satisfying experience. Another element is sensitivity a feeling so often misunderstood or ignored. The uniqueness is to a large extent the result of Stravinsky's musical sensitivity and sensitivity which at all times seeks out the purest the most
unfettered and most precise musical relationships whether between two pitches between tampers between rhythms or an interrelationship. All three of these elements are all that is musical emotion too with many illustrious ancestors such as Bach and Mozart and their PC and its own generation. And on they went to offer as examples. This sensitivity emotion is the element that most uniquely informs our work likely down through it. The objectivity with which starvin ski approaches the materials of musical sounds is revealed this sensitivity emotion never seeks to express directly certain emotional states. It does not wish to represent something but it shapes mostly subconsciously. The precise arrangement of the musical materials which is infused with the spirit of Stravinsky's feelings in relation to those notes. They are thus the one time unique reflection of his thoughts and feelings at that
particular moment. And as such a valid and self-sufficient emotional expression. To fail to consider this in listening to Liszt and later Stravinsky is to prevent a full appreciation of his art.. The recording I shall play is a superb one made by an ensemble of New York musicians under Stravinsky's own direction. It's only disappointment to me is that it does not present all the music from at least one. We shall hear first the soldiers march in the opening number which accumulates from various scraps of marching tunes stated in constant alternation by the different instruments. All of these set about a marching band type bass played by the double bass. The music for Scene 1 follows here a four note bass puts you kind of figure acts as a kind of stay not at all. Notice how excellently this bass part is played by Julius Levine and superbly
recorded too. Apropos of the bass part in recordings of least I think I know every recording ever made of this work. This is the only recording where the bass part is both well played and well recorded in most recordings. The bass part lacks in presence and thereby robs the music of its only harmonic foundation. In this recording both the playing and recording of the bass part is practically perfect. There is no scratchiness in the playing. It is rich and sumptuous and it's sonority and the intonation is well nigh perfect. Well to get back to Scene 1 again it is a cumulative and additive form not a developmental form and various melodies of this piece really occur elsewhere in the work in different contexts. Which again indicates with musical objectivity starvin ski treats his things the soldiers march and the music for Scene 1 0.
Right. Well no.
Scene 2 follows. This is a pastoral in which the sensitive poignancy I spoke of earlier is most apparent. The soldier is in despair with extraordinarily simple means Stravinsky evokes this atmosphere which is so closely related to the solitude of Patricia's room. Woof.
Next the royal March pompous lively piece rhythmically
founded on the Spanish Paso Doble. The ritualistic carnage part is played with perfection and style by Robert Nagle. Deacon say the little concert follows using previously stated thematic materials. It is a marvelously exuberant piece using its small instrumental ensemble with a maximum of Orion. There is one especially fine touch in this movement. There are only two places where all seven instruments play the second of these is one single measure which sounds like the ending being a rather brash and obvious cadence. But Stravinsky avoids the obvious by using this one measure simultaneously as the beginning of a coda for clarinet cornet in Milan. And this coda is simply a recapitulation of the opening of the pity concept. It's a remarkable touch see if you can catch it. Now the royal March and liberty concept.
HTH. I think. Thanks.
Thanks. Thanks. Thanks. Thanks thang.
Thang. And I say. Thank you I thank you I thank you I thank you I thank you. Thank you thank you. Thank. ME THANK YOU THANK YOU. Three dances follow. They are the tango the waltz and the rack time played without interruption incidentally. Once again notice the beautiful bass playing in the waltz. Another ingenious touch is the way Stravinsky
transforms the waltz into ragtime towards the end of the waltz. Stravinsky adds the dotted rhythms of ragtime still over the waltzing bass after a long held note in the cornet. The percussion enters suddenly and the music changes into full fledged ragtime. But even here in the ragtime Stravinsky cannot resist playing with ragtime figures by subjecting them to all kinds of metric changes mostly in the direction of symmetry. Thank.
You. What is.
Three dances a tango the waltz and the ragtime. Next the very fast devil's dance as you will see a marvel of simplicity and virtuosity. After that comes one of the Koran. It's a majestic piece of four part writing where Stravinsky manages to integrate the four wind instruments or originally chosen for their diversity into an amazingly homogeneous sound spectrum. The violin and bass a company at first was tremolos and later sustained the cadences beyond wins like a faint echo.
He had the two instruments the violin and the bass both playing double stops sound like a quartet of vials in a personnel piece or something. And the whole corral evokes the sonority of some marvelous church organ. The triumphal march of the devil closes the work again snatches
from the Royal March return. The last time like a faint echo just before the final reassertion of the drums it is somehow significant that the final word in this piece is had by the most abstract of the seven instruments and the most rhythmic the percussion. You just heard an excellent recording.
He goes to the first trumpet. On percussion. The other work on this program is by dahlias Malone. I am playing a lot of these days because it was one of his best and most productive periods of productivity which as I've said before was to drop drastically within a decade and come to a complete artistic standstill in more recent years. The work in question from 118 is one of Milos best and one of his least performed it is HIS easier work. Miller wrote when he was working in the French embassy and Rio de Janeiro during the war it reveals a strong influence of Brazilian dance rhythms and the general heady
tropical atmosphere of that country. The work was composed for four solo voices 12 instruments and an hour a 15 percussion instruments. Many of them of South American origin in this work create a piece which the Brazilian composer Villalobos was to use as a model for several dozen works I believe. A few of which I will program at the proper time. Some of you may question my programming of so much M.O. I can only reiterate that at this period whatever the ultimate value of the works might be was an important innovator in various instrumental and specifically musical respects. Already pointed out that Miller was the first to use the idea of rhythm aside spoken choruses and they call it four. And in that same work his use of percussion instruments was decades ahead of other composers in London in Sunday's IA. This emancipation of percussion to play an independent autonomous role in music is reaffirmed.
The work also introduces percussion sounds. Never before heard in European concert music. This and other Miller works using percussion in this way spawn the whole movement and composers like untile valve as Lu harus and cage and I they're all Dan etc. etc. or a great deal to these early works. This is just to keep the record straight. Daisy are created in collaboration with Paul Claudel was inspired by Nijinsky s visit to Rio de Janeiro 917. In it the author's attempt to evoke the atmosphere of the Brazilian jungle with its marvelous concert of nocturnal jungle noises. In this respect it can be seen as part of a larger movement based on the discoveries by Western artists at that time. Of a number of exotic and graphic cultures such as the influence of African and Polynesian art on men like Picasso. The discovery of the negro and his art in Parisian art circles the influence of Chinese
poetry and painting on other European artists and so on. In this respect it's on the zeal is to some extent a period piece. But because of the freshness of its discoveries I maintain it is not just a period piece. It has a quality which still speaks to us today. London is on days here recorded under the composer's own direction. Go. To Las. Vegas. Oh. Ye. Ye ye at. The end. Oh absolutely.
Wow wow. LOL of. It was. The end. Who.
Can. Do me. In. If a few
of you have an infant. An. Infant. From. An infant often. Have an. Urge. To find. Sure you. Knew. Her. You knew you. Knew her. To.
Me. Oh. Oh. Oh.
Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh h h h h h. H h. He came in. And.
In the end I am a game changer in a change to the end game. The air. The air. The air. The air temperature change. The elearning. Yeah.
If I. Were. The only.
One. The. And. Yes.
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. We'll. Thanks.
That was a love song Daisy of the day. Now the recording despite some rhythmic inaccuracy is quite a remarkable recording and it's very hard to obtain these days. It was famous at one time when the gong played to disc in 1919 and 1949 and was put out by a label called Shan posing. And that's the program for tonight. Next week on went to nineteen hundred nineteen and won't you join me then for another in the series contemporary music in evolution. This has been Gunther Schiller.
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- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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- Series Description
- Contemporary Music in Evolution is a radio program hosted by Gunther Schuller, which traces the evolution of Western classical music from 1899 to 1961. Each episode focuses on a specific year and chronicles some of the significant works, schools, and composers of the time. Schuller introduces several performance recordings in each episode, and gives commentary and analysis that also touch on previous episodes.
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Host: Schuller, Gunther
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 64-36-10 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- Chicago: “Contemporary Music in Evolution; 10; 1918,” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed March 2, 2024, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-610vv30n.
- MLA: “Contemporary Music in Evolution; 10; 1918.” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. March 2, 2024. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-610vv30n>.
- APA: Contemporary Music in Evolution; 10; 1918. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-610vv30n