Igor Stravinsky’s 1918 masterpiece “Histoire du soldat”
The inaugural performance of Brown Symposium XXXIII “Think - Converse - Act: The Salon and Its Histories” February 23-25, 2011, featuring Igor Stravinsky’s 1918 masterpiece Histoire du soldat (The Soldier’s Tale) narrated and directed by Paul Gaffney and conducted by Lois Ferrari
SU president Jake B. Schrum and symposium director John Michael Cooper (Margarett Root Brown Chair in Fine Arts) will offer welcome remarks, followed by an introductory presentation titled “War and Rumors of War” by T. Walter Herbert, emeritus Professor of English.
We chose this piece because it’s a wonderful example – only one of thousands – of a well-known masterpiece that’s a product of conversation in the context of a salon. Based on a Russian tale first published after the Russo-Turkish war (1827-29), The Soldier’s Tale is a parable about a war veteran and his struggles in re-entering society. The idea to create this particular piece was arrived at in the context of a salon – i.e., through wide-ranging interdisciplinary conversation about ideas in the contemporary world.
In 1918, at the end of World War I, Russian composer Igor Stravinsky and Swiss poet C.F. Ramuz took that old story, adapted it slightly because of its relevance to the contemporary issue of the struggles that millions of war veterans faced as they returned from the savage global conflict that had just ended, and created out of it a new and thoroughly modern collaborative work.
It’s almost unthinkable that Histoire would have come into existence if not for the salons in which the idea was born – and for our Symposium it’s quite convenient that it did happen that way. It not only gives audiences a chance to hear and see a very relevant masterpiece of early twentieth-century music in new light, but also offers Southwestern a chance to show off the remarkable talents of the show’s director, musical director, and our community of faculty performers.