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Stravinsky's Piano
Genesis of a Musical Language


Part of Music since 1900

  • Date Published: February 2013
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521191784

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About the Authors
  • Stravinsky's reinvention in the early 1920s, as both neoclassical composer and concert-pianist, is here placed at the centre of a fundamental reconsideration 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 lifelong 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.

    • Proposes a new understanding of Stravinsky as a composer who consistently used the piano to mould and to unify his contrasting musical idioms - Russian, neoclassical and serial
    • Traces Stravinsky's entire creative path across seven decades, from the fragment Tarantella of 1898 to the (unpublished) Bach arrangements of 1969, written when the composer was eighty-seven
    • Presents an unprecedented selection of sketch materials in a fresh evaluation of several of Stravinsky's major works, including The Rite of Spring, Sonate pour piano, Symphony of Psalms, Concerto for Two Solo Pianos, Symphony in Three Movements and Movements for Piano and Orchestra - as well as several rarely-considered miniatures such as the early song 'Pastorale' (and its later instrumentation), 'The Owl and the Pussycat', and the posthumously published 'Lied ohne Name für Zwei Fagotten.'
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '… an eloquently written monograph that traces the influence of Stravinsky's pianism on his compositional process … Stravinsky's Piano is a resounding success that will be celebrated by the Stravinsky community for years to come.' Music and Letters

    'This is a well-written, engaging book that delves into technical discussion of compositional processes while remaining eminently readable … Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, and professionals.' K. Boyd, Choice

    'With this extremely readable book, Griffiths has made a significant contribution to Stravinsky research. His focus on the concept of 'pal'tserazvitiye' is particularly fascinating. His next research project is eagerly awaited.' Mai Ikehara, Ongakugaku: Journal of the Musicological Society of Japan

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    Product details

    • Date Published: February 2013
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521191784
    • length: 354 pages
    • dimensions: 244 x 170 x 21 mm
    • weight: 0.76kg
    • contains: 10 b/w illus. 59 music examples
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Becoming a Russian musician
    2. Becoming a neoclassicist
    3. Stravinsky's piano workshop
    4. Departures and homecomings

  • Author

    Graham Griffiths, City University London
    Graham Griffiths is Honorary Research Fellow in Musicology at City, University of London. He studied at Edinburgh University and at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, obtaining his doctorate at Christ Church, Oxford. In 1989 he founded Grupo Novo Horizonte de São Paulo which, under his direction, premiered forty-one new works by twenty-three Brazilian and Danish composers. Since his return to the UK Griffiths has guest-lectured at the universities of Bath, Bristol, Canterbury Christ Church, Middlesex and Oxford - and at the St Petersburg Conservatoire - on a wide variety of topics including music of the twentieth century, Stravinsky, neoclassicism, Brazilian contemporary music and Russia's earliest women composers. His affiliation with City, University of London dates from 2010. He was appointed Honorary Research Fellow in 2015.

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