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Stravinsky Inside Out

Stravinsky Inside Out

Charles M. Joseph
Copyright Date: 2001
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    Stravinsky Inside Out
    Book Description:

    Popularly known during his lifetime as "The World's Greatest Living Composer," Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) not only wrote some of the twentieth century's most influential music, he also assumed the role of cultural icon. This book reveals Stravinsky's two sides-the public persona, preoccupied with his own image and place in history, and the private composer, whose views and beliefs were often purposely suppressed. Charles M. Joseph draws a richer and more human portrait of Stravinsky than anyone has done before, using an array of unpublished materials and unreleased film trims from the composer's huge archive at the Paul Sacher Institute in Switzerland.Focusing on Stravinsky's place in the culture of the twentieth century, Joseph situates the composer among the giants of his age. He discusses Stravinsky's first American commission, his complicated relationship with his son, his professional relationships with celebrities ranging from T. S. Eliot to Orson Welles, his flirtations with Hollywood and television, and his love-hate attitude toward the critics and the media. In a close look at Stravinsky's efforts to mold a public image, Joseph explores the complex dance between the composer and his artistic collaborator, Robert Craft, who orchestrated controversial efforts to protect Stravinsky and edit materials about him, both during the composer's lifetime and after his death.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-12936-6
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  5. A Note on Sources
    (pp. xix-xxii)
  6. Chapter 1 Truths and Illusions: Rethinking What We Know
    (pp. 1-34)

    It is little wonder that more has been written about Igor Stravinsky than any other composer of the twentieth century. His “psychic geography,” as Leonard Bernstein once described it, was an enormously complex landscape. He relished confounding society’s paradigm of what a classical composer ought to be. He wanted, perhaps even needed, to be seen as the “other.” And like so many cultural icons, it was his nonconformity that best captured the essence of his widely recognized, and some would even say peculiar, image. One often didn’t know where the composer stood on an issue, or when and for what...

  7. Chapter 2 Rediscovering the American Apollon Musagète: Stravinsky, Coolidge, and the Forgotten Washington Connection
    (pp. 35-63)

    Stravinsky’s impressions of America were recorded a decade after his first tour of the United States in 1925. But the composer had already become familiar with American music years earlier, while still a young man in St. Petersburg. In 1914 the rumblings of war forced him to retreat to Switzerland, and even as his nostalgia for Russia deepened during his self-imposed exile, his interest in America’s music and culture grew. In a 1916 interview with theNew York Tribune,Stravinsky spoke of his admiration for American “jazz,” although the term was loosely understood to include ragtime, blues, boogie-woogie—any form...

  8. Chapter 3 Fathers and Sons: Remembering Sviatoslav Soulima
    (pp. 64-99)

    Written twenty years before Igor Stravinsky’s birth, Ivan Turgenev’s 1862 sociopolitical novel offered more than a contemporary commentary on the wayward son Bazarov’s nihilism. As Turgenev’s friend Afanasy Fet observed, it was a sweeping statement about ourselves, our ideals, the rhythms of life, and, perhaps most poignantly, “the flowering and the fading of love.”Fathers and Sonsis about ambivalence, about families in conflict, and ultimately about resistance giving way to resignation. Along with the novels of Aleksandr Pushkin, Mikhail Lermontov, and of course Tolstoy, Turgenev’s writings were certainly known to Igor Stravinsky’s father, Fyodor, a bibliophile whose operatic career...

  9. Chapter 4 The Would-Be Hollywood Composer: Stravinsky, the Literati, and “The Dream Factory”
    (pp. 100-131)

    There are few more penetrating critiques of the film industry than Christopher Isherwood’s 1945 novellaPrater Violet.Through his sharply drawn characterizations, Isherwood autobiographically explores the nature of movie making and the dilemma creative artists face in reconciling their artistic principles with a crassly commercial world. The author’s biting social commentary of 1935 Vienna spans a spectrum of issues he also confronted in Hollywood.Prater Violetbrilliantly satirizes the often illusive distinction between image and reality—a distinction that characterizes not only the art of film but also Stravinsky’s carefully sculpted public persona. Stravinsky knew all of Isherwood’s Berlin stories,...

  10. Chapter 5 Television and The Flood: Anatomy of an “Inglorious Flop”
    (pp. 132-161)

    I remember turning on our television set on Saturday night, 14 June 1962, eager to watch the telecast of Stravinsky’s newest work. As a fifteenyear- old, I knew little of his music, but I did recall seeing him on one of Leonard Bernstein’sYoung People’s Concerts,so I suspected he must be somebody important. I was fascinated by the one-hour CBS broadcast that evening, although apparently my parents did not share my enthusiasm, for they quietly sneaked out of the room after the first five minutes or so. What captivated me was the novelty of the production: the horrific alien-looking...

  11. Chapter 6 Film Documentaries: The Composer On and Off Camera
    (pp. 162-195)

    In describing film’s capacity to visualize the critical events of our time, John Grierson coined the termdocumentary.A teacher by profession, the British filmmaker was committed to educating the general public about the social, economic, political, and other contemporary forces shaping our world. Grierson wished to engage his viewers in a novel way: his films would forgo an exact recounting of history’s pivotal moments in favor of a “creative interpretation of actuality.”¹ By the 1950s, television was flooding the airwaves with its newest brainchild, the documentary drama. It was a decade in which TV programming saw the concept of...

  12. Chapter 7 Letters, Books, Private Thoughts: Reading Between the Lines
    (pp. 196-232)

    Following Stravinsky’s death in 1971, more than a decade of protracted litigation dragged through the New York courts in deciding the final disposition of his archives. Several American universities, libraries, and private foundations tendered bids. Zubin Mehta issued a passionate call to arms: “We cannot allow the Stravinsky archives to leave these shores.” But despite a multimillion-dollar offer from New York’s Pierpont Morgan Library for the outright purchase of the archives, it was determined that the Stravinsky collection would go to the Paul Sacher Foundation. On 14 June 1983, a settlement was reached, sending the composer’s manuscripts, correspondence, and other...

  13. Chapter 8 Boswellizing an Icon: Stravinsky, Craft, and the Historian’s Dilemma
    (pp. 233-265)

    In 1791, James Boswell, “the Great Biographer,” as history knows him, published his first edition of one of the most celebrated and controversial biographies in English literature. Two centuries later, the war of the Boswellians and Johnsonians rages on. The debate finds a contemporary parallel in the musicological commotion surrounding Robert Craft’s association with Stravinsky. Boswell has become a lightning rod, not only sparking heated disputes among specialists but also posing larger questions about the constitution of historiography. Was Boswell an impartial witness, or was his narrative slanted? Should his elegant prose—which is matched by Craft’s own lucid chronicling...

  14. Epilogue
    (pp. 266-270)

    Stravinsky died in New York early on the morning of 6 April 1971. Although the news was mentioned on several morning broadcasts, I first heard of it from Walter Cronkite later in the afternoon. The CBS network, in a “we interrupt our regular programming” bulletin, reported the death of the great “Russian-American” composer with the same momentous tone that it used for any dramatic news event. Cronkite’s announcement was not only sad for musicians everywhere, more broadly, it was sobering historically. An epoch had ended.

    I never knew, met, or even saw Stravinsky. But from my first acquaintance with his...

  15. Notes
    (pp. 271-304)
  16. Index
    (pp. 305-320)