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 others art and they
and their wives were mutually loyal friends. When Koussevitskys 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
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.