Composers Datebook®

with host John Zech

Monday, October 8

Stravinsky's "Ode"

Synopsis

The Russian Revolution of 1917 wiped out many family fortunes, and many penniless, Russian émigrés who fled the Bolsheviks had to start from scratch in exile.

Natalie Koussevitzky, however, was not one of them. Her family fortune was fairly diversified, which meant that even the loss of her large Russian holdings left her with considerable wealth elsewhere in Europe. And since Natalie was married to the Russian émigré music publisher, conductor, and new music impresario Serge Koussevitzky, that meant a number of famous 20th century composers benefited as well. It’s not an exaggeration to say that, culturally speaking, without Natalie’s fortune, the history of 20th century music would have been noticeably poorer.

When Natalie died, Serge Koussevitzky established a Music Foundation in her honor. One of the Foundation’s memorial commissions was premiered on today’s date in 1943 by the Boston Symphony, led by Serge Koussevitzky. This was a three-part symphonic “Ode” written by the Russian composer Igor Stravinsky, and dedicated to Natalie’s memory.

The second movement of Stravinsky’s “Ode”, sandwiched in between its two somber outer movements, was actually a bit of recycled film music. Stravinsky originally intended it for a hunting scene in the Joan Fontaine/Orson Welles cinematic version of the English novel “Jane Eyre.” As plans for that film progressed, however, the more experienced film composer Bernard Herrmann, who had worked by Orson Welles on a number or previous films and radio plays, replaced Stravinsky.

Music Played in Today's Program

Igor Stravinsky (1882 – 1971) Ode London Symphony; Michael Tilson Thomas, cond. BMG 68865

Additional Information

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