I took Igor Stravinsky and his wife there. We got a table in the middle of the room, speaking French, and a man came in, and said in rather good French, “will the maestro please give me an autograph?” Stravinsky said “Certainly not.”

His wife did a great deal of talking in Russian and finally he agreed, but took forever to write out his name. The man waited and waited and by this point the whole room was watching.

Finally Stravinsky was done and the man thanked him and walked away. We asked Stravinsky if he knew who he was and he said, “Certainly, I see him on television all the time.” The man was Frank Sinatra.


Fascinating to hear how many different interpretations a few famous chords can receive from major performers. The thirty-six examples here range from a 1921 piano roll by the composer to a 2010 recording from Caracas:

Tip of the hat to Robert Fink

“No good opera plot can be sensible, for people do not sing when they are feeling sensible.” — W.H. Auden

Everybody else talks about The Rite of Spring. Why shouldn’t the composer?

Over at Avery Fisher Hall, they’re wallowing in Stravinsky — under the title “The Russian Stravinsky.” Is there any other Stravinsky, you might ask? Well, yes, it seems so. Richard Taruskin, as usual contrarian but right, tells us all about it.

I was able to hear Les Noces, The Symphony of Psalms, and Firebird after the Icelandic volcano let St. Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theater Chorus get through, and I’m certainly glad that I did — and that it did.

Coming up is one of my favorite Stravinsky works, which happens to have been commissioned by the Philharmonic. The main point of this post is to point out that they have taken the extraordinary step of posting online a free recording of the composer conducting the Symphony in Three Movements at the time of the premiere. Though I’ve certainly heard more fetching performances of it, it’s always a privilege to hear what the composer was able to get out of the orchestra when the piece was spanking new.

(And, by the way, I here register a rare disagreement with my colleague La Cieca, who spoke on Facebook of the work’s title as the “least palatable opus name.” I always found “Symphony in Three Movements” particularly elegant in a neo-classical sort of way.)

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