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Stravinsky's Piano


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Stravinsky’s Piano
Cambridge University Press
9780521191784 - Stravinsky’s Piano - Genesis of a Musical Language - By Graham Griffiths

Stravinsky’s Piano: Genesis of a Musical Language

Stravinsky’s re-invention in the early 1920s, as both neoclassical composer and concert pianist, is here placed at the centre of a fundamental re-consideration of his whole output – viewed from the unprecedented perspective of his relationship with the piano. Graham Griffiths assesses Stravinsky’s musical upbringing in St Petersburg with emphasis on his education at the hands of two extraordinary teachers whom he later either ignored or denounced: Leokadiya Kashperova for piano, and Rimsky-Korsakov for instrumentation. Their message, Griffiths argues, enabled Stravinsky to formulate from that intensely Russian experience an internationalist brand of neoclassicism founded upon the premises of objectivity and craft. Drawing directly on the composer’s manuscripts, Griffiths addresses Stravinsky’s life-long fascination with counterpoint and with pianism’s constructive processes. Stravinsky’s Piano presents both of these as recurring features of the compositional attitudes that Stravinsky consistently applied to his works, whether Russian, neoclassical or serial, and regardless of idiom and genre.

Graham Griffiths studied musicology at Edinburgh University, and music education at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, obtaining his D.Phil. (musicology) in 2008 at Christ Church, Oxford. Between 1989 and 1999 he directed Grupo Novo Horizonte de São Paulo, and guest-lectured at Brazilian and Danish universities. In 2005 his article ‘Fingering as Compositional Process: Stravinsky’s Sonata Sketchbook Revisited’ was published by British Postgraduate Musicology Online. Recently Griffiths has delivered courses at the universities of Bath (‘Stravinsky’s Spain’), Bristol (‘Performance’), Canterbury Christ Church (‘Music since 1900’) and Oxford (‘Stravinsky and the Twentieth Century’). He has been a Visiting Lecturer at City University, London since 2010.

Music Since 1900

General Editor

Arnold Whittall

This series – formerly Music in the Twentieth Century – offers a wide perspective on music and musical life since the end of the nineteenth century. Books included range from historical and biographical studies concentrating particularly on the context and circumstances in which composers were writing, to analytical and critical studies concerned with the nature of musical language and questions of compositional process. The importance given to context will also be reflected in studies dealing with, for example, the patronage, publishing and promotion of new music, and in accounts of the musical life of particular countries.

Titles in the series

Jonathan Cross The Stravinsky Legacy

Michael Nyman Experimental Music: Cage and Beyond

Jennifer Doctor The BBC and Ultra-Modern Music, 1922–1936

Robert Adlington The Music of Harrison Birtwistle

Keith Potter Four Musical Minimalists: La Monte Young, Terry Riley, Steve Reich, Philip Glass

Carlo Caballero Fauré and French Musical Aesthetics

Peter Burt The Music of Tōru Takemitsu

David Clarke The Music and Thought of Michael Tippett: Modern Times and Metaphysics

M. J. Grant Serial Music, Serial Aesthetics: Compositional Theory in Post-War Europe

Philip Rupprecht Britten’s Musical Language

Mark Carroll Music and Ideology in Cold War Europe

Adrian Thomas Polish Music since Szymanowski

J. P. E. Harper-Scott Edward Elgar, Modernist

Yayoi Uno Everett The Music of Louis Andriessen

Ethan Haimo Schoenberg’s Transformation of Musical Language

Rachel Beckles Willson Ligeti, Kurtág, and Hungarian Music during the Cold War

Michael Cherlin Schoenberg’s Musical Imagination

Joseph N. Straus Twelve-Tone Music in America

David Metzer Musical Modernism at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century

Edward Campbell Boulez, Music and Philosophy

Jonathan Goldman The Musical Language of Pierre Boulez: Writings and Compositions

Pieter C. van den Toorn and John McGinness Stravinsky and the Russian Period: Sound and Legacy of a Musical Idiom

Heather Wiebe Britten’s Unquiet Pasts: Sound and Memory in Postwar Reconstruction

David Beard Harrison Birtwistle’s Operas and Music Theatre

Beate Kutschke and Barley Norton Music and Protest in 1968

Graham Griffiths Stravinsky’s Piano: Genesis of a Musical Language

Stravinsky’s Piano

Genesis of a Musical Language

Graham Griffiths

Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore, São Paulo, Delhi, Mexico City

Cambridge University Press
The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge CB2 8RU, UK

Published in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press, New York
Information on this title:
© Graham Griffiths 2013

This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press.

First published 2013
Printed and bound in the United Kingdom by the MPG Books Group

A catalogue record for this publication is available from the British Library

Library of Congress Cataloguing in Publication data

Griffiths, Graham, 1954–Stravinsky’s piano : genesis of a musical language / Graham Griffiths.
p. cm. – (Music since 1900)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-0-521-19178-4 (hardback)
1. Stravinsky, Igor, 1882–1971–Criticism and interpretation. 2. Stravinsky, Igor, 1882–1971. Piano music. I. Title.
ML410.S932G73 2013

ISBN 978-0-521-19178-4 Hardback

Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this publication, and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.

For Ana, John and all my family

In Memoriam

Miriam Margaret Griffiths (née Heughan) MBChB (Edinburgh) (1920–2008)

Lena Amy Baker LRAM, Teacher of Pianoforte and Rudiments (1905–2004)


List of figures
List of music examples
1     Becoming a Russian musician
2     Becoming a neoclassicist
3     Stravinsky’s piano workshop
4     Departures and homecomings


1.1         The first page of Stravinsky’s sketches for The Rite of Spring, 1911/13 (F-Pmeyer). © Mr John Stravinsky. Reproduced by permission of the Bibliothèque nationale de France and Boosey & Hawkes Music Publishers Ltd.
3.1         Stravinsky, sketch for Sonate pour piano (Biarritz, 13 April 1924), PSS 123–0516/17 (Paul Sacher Stiftung, microfilm 123, pp. 516–17). © The Paul Sacher Stiftung, Basel.
3.2         Stravinsky, sketches for Concert pour piano et instruments à vent (1923/1924): the first page of sketches, PSS 220–0634 (Paul Sacher Stiftung: microfilm 220, p. 634). © The Paul Sacher Stiftung, Basel.
3.3         Stravinsky, sketch for Sonate pour piano (dated 4 August [1924]). © The Paul Sacher Stiftung, Basel.
3.4         Stravinsky, sketch for Symphony of Psalms (1930): the first page of sketches, PSS 114–0262 (Paul Sacher Stiftung: microfilm 114, p. 262). © The Paul Sacher Stiftung, Basel.
3.5         Malwine Brée, The Groundwork of the Leschetizky Method (1902): excerpt from Chapter 16, ‘Chords’. © 1902 G. Schirmer, Inc.
3.6         Stravinsky’s annotation of the peals of St Paul’s Cathedral, London (June 1914). © The Paul Sacher Stiftung, Basel.
4.1         Stravinsky, Lied ohne Name für Zwei Fagotten (1918), complete, PSS 123–0336/7 (Paul Sacher Stiftung: microfilm 123, pp. 336–7). © The Paul Sacher Stiftung, Basel.
4.2         Stravinsky, sketch for Movements for Piano and Orchestra (1958/9), PSS 222–0603 (Paul Sacher Stiftung: microfilm 222, p. 603). © The Paul Sacher Stiftung, Basel.

© Cambridge University Press
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