Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Igor Stravinsky - The Owl and the Pussycat (1966)


I was very privileged to meet Stravinsky back in '66, and spend about 10 minutes chatting with him at the Art Gallery where I worked in London's West End.

I had become quite a fan of his whilst at school, where I'd been introduced to both his and Arnold Shoenberg's very distinctive music.

I believe the below was written not long after our meeting, and was possibly one of the last things he wrote.  I only came across it recently. His use of dodecaphony, the Twelve Tone Technique, seems to divide voice and piano rather than harmonise, and makes it difficult to listen to. I suppose I'm too used to instruments complimenting a voice.

To my dismelodiac ear, he was also doing a disservice to Lear's wonderful poem.

I actually feel sorry for the singer. Am I alone?



p.s. I have written previously about my meeting with Stravinsky, but I have recently made new discoveries, about which I will write soon. Watch this space!


26 comments:

  1. There doesn't seem much connection between the music and what is being sung.

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    Replies
    1. The two elements are fighting against each other. I'm much more used to harmony.

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  2. Bloody awful !!! Rachel, don’t listen to it .... it will make your ears bad again ! .... but, each to their own. XXXX

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    1. I have difficulty listening to more than about 20 secs. Your analysis is correct.

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    2. It is one of my favourite poems and I have been known to give renditions of it in a past life and I am always interested to hear other interpretations, how ever odd they may be! xxxx

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    3. I got to 45 seconds. Not my cup of tea.

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  3. Endured the 20secs to give it a chance. Not for me, either.

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    Replies
    1. It's hard work. I imagine it was hard work writing it too.

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  4. Sometimes being deaf can be a blessing 😏

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    Replies
    1. Rachel would say otherwise, but she's a lone voice.

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  5. Not an altogethet lone voice Cro - I find it interesting and feel that if I listened to it many times I would find it much more enjoyable than just first time listening. My son read Music at University and now teaches it. He was a huge fan of Stockhausen and in the seventies Stockhausen came to London and conducted a concert of his music at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. My son and I went to that concert and it was magical. One piece, which Stockhausen did not conduct meant that the composer could come and sit in the auditorium and he chose to sit directly in front of us; You can imagine, my son in his early teens was enthralled. 'Modern' music (as with modern any art form) takes some getting used to. May I remind you that when Stravinsky's 'Rite of Spring' was first performed in 1913
    it was received with boos. Now most people love it.

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    1. It was through The Rite of Spring that I was introduced to Stravinsky (as you might imagine). They are all interesting composers; S, S, and S. I love most of their work, but occasionally something crops-up that makes me shudder.

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  6. "What a beautiful pussy you are!" - one of the finest lines in the entire panoply of English Literature. The singer had a wonderful voice in spite of Stravinsky's weird composition. You must have inspired him.

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    1. It's such a good poem, it deserves better.

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  7. I always used to sing this poem when I was cycling up the long hills in France. I think I sang it better (which is saying something if you've ever heard me sing!).

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    Replies
    1. What tune did you sing it to?

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    2. It was my own made-up tune (at least I think it was), I used to sing it to the girls when they were babies.

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  8. I was intrigued to listen to this after such an array of comments. A favourite piece of Lear presented in an unusual manner. I quite enjoyed it.
    Just another style of music.

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