Composers Datebook®

Stravinsky and Schoenberg chamber premieres

Igor Stravinsky (1882 – 1971): L'histoire du Soldat Suite (Harmonie Ensemble; Steven Richman, cond.) Koch 7438 Igor Stravinsky (1882 – 1971): Pulcinella Suite (Columbia Chamber Ensemble) Sony 64136 Arnold Schoenberg (1874 – 1951): Serenade, Op. 24 (Ensemble InterContemporain) Sony 48463


Composer's Datebook - July 20, 2021

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July 20, 2021

Synopsis

Today’s date marks the premiere of two chamber works from the 1920s, both landmark and transitional works from two of the 20th century’s most influential composers.

On this date in 1920, at London’s Wigmore Hall, the Swiss conductor Ernest Ansermet led the first performance of a “Grand Suite” from Igor Stravinsky’s biting anti-war stage fable entitled “The Soldier’s Tale.” During and immediately following the First World War, Stravinsky had developed a spiky, jagged, and occasionally jazzy style, and music from “The Soldier’s Tale” is typical of this period. But Stravinsky did a compositional about-face that same year with one of his earliest “neo-classical” scores: the ballet “Pulcinella,” based on themes borrowed from 18th century composers.

Stravinsky’s “neo-classical” period would last for another three decades until the 1950s, when he became fascinated with the 12-tone method of composition developed by the Austrian composer, Arnold Schoenberg.

And speaking of Schoenberg, on today’s date in 1924, his “Serenade” received its premiere at the Fourth Donaueschingen Festival in Germany. “Serenade” was the first work in which Schoenberg employed his strict “12-tone” method of composition, avoiding traditional 18th century rules of melody and harmony – and only its Mozartean sounding title could be considered “neo-classical.”

Music Played in Today's Program

Igor Stravinsky (1882 – 1971): L'histoire du Soldat Suite (Harmonie Ensemble; Steven Richman, cond.) Koch 7438

Igor Stravinsky (1882 – 1971): Pulcinella Suite (Columbia Chamber Ensemble) Sony 64136

Arnold Schoenberg (1874 – 1951): Serenade, Op. 24 (Ensemble InterContemporain) Sony 48463

On This Day

Births

  • 1872 - French composer Déodat de Severac, in Saint-Félix-de-Caraman, Lauraguais

  • 1908 - Swedish composer Gunnar de Frumerie, in Nacka (near Stockholm

Deaths

  • 1752 - German-born English composer and conductor John Christopher (Johann Christoph) Pepusch, age 85, in London; In 1710 was one of the founding members of the "Academy of Ancient Music," which revived 16th century vocal music; He orchestrated some of the numbers in John Gay's famous "The Beggar's Opera" in 1728

Premieres

  • 1920 - Stravinsky: "Grande Suite" from the staged work "The Soldier's Tale," in London at Wigmore Hall, with Ernest Ansermet conducting

  • 1924 - Schoenberg: "Serenade" for chamber ensemble, in Donaueschingen, Germany

  • 1942 - Miaskovsky: Symphony No. 23, in Moscow

  • 1958 - Xenakis: "Achorripsis" for 21 instruments, in Brussels

  • 1970 - Morton Feldman: "Mme. Press Died Last Week at Ninety," an orchestral work commemorating his Russian piano teacher, in St. Paul de Venice, France