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Igor Stravinsky - Ode

Stravinsky was a close friend of the great and innovative Russian conductor and long-time music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Serge Koussevitsky. Both Koussevitsky and Stravinsky championed each other’s art and they and their wives were mutually loyal friends. When Koussevitsky’s wife Natalie died in 1943 he asked Stravinsky to write an Ode in her memory.

Ever original and unconventional, Stravinsky quickly composed an ambitious and deeply felt short orchestral work in three distinct parts, which he titled:

Eulogy - Eclogue (literally, a short poem) - Epitaph.

The Eulogy and Epitaph are often solemn and slow paced, as might be expected of the opening and conclusion of a work written in memoriam, whilst the Eclogue is more animated, possibly maybe aiming to recall some of the strong personality of the departed one. However, the Eclogue was in fact an adaptation of music that had just been written for a completely different purpose: in his ‘Expositions and Developments’ Stravinsky relates how the Eclogue had originally been composed for a hunting scene in the Orson Welles film ‘Jane Eyre’. Stravinsky said he was "charmed" by the novel and by the Bronte family, but the contract with Welles ultimately fell through. The composer referred to this as one of all the aborted film projects that belong to the period 1942-1944.

Jon Tolansky

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