K40 Свадебка [Swadebka]
Русскiя хореографическiя сцены сь пђнiемь и музыкой соч. Игоря Стравинскаго – Les Noces. Scènes chorégraphiques russes avec chant et musique. Version française de C.-F. Ramuz – Die Hochzeit (Russische Bauernhochzeit). Russische choreographische Szenen in vier Bildern mit Gesang und Begleitung, nach russischen Volksliedern bearbeitet von Igor Strawinsky. In das Französische übersetzt von Charles-Ferdinand Ramuz – The Wedding. Russian dance scenes with song and music. French version by C. F. Ramuz – Le Nozze. Scene coreografiche russe in quattro quadri con canto ed accompagnamento su melodie russe popolari nelaborate. Versione francese di C. F. Ramuz
Title: Everyday Russian has two words for ‘wedding’, свадьба and свадебка . ‘Svadebka’ is the diminutive form of ‘Svadba’, and literally translated, means ‘little wedding’. The proclivity of the Russians for all kinds of diminutive forms in this case goes hand in hand with a historically connected change in meaning. A solemn, large wedding was always свадьба in both pre- and post-Revolutionary Russia. On the other hand, the diminutive form свадебка , which is less common nowadays, describes not only a less expensive, smaller-scale wedding but in particular a wedding in a country village with an ethnic feel, which is usually happy as well as vulgar, and above all ritualistic. This term clearly died out with the Revolution in Russia, though it was retained by Russian emigrants, as well as they did not follow the Russian orthographical reform. With its title, Strawinsky therefore specified the type of marriage as being a rural marriage with its wealth of handed-down country rituals, for which there was no longer a place in an urban marriage.
Scored for: a) First edition (Rols): Невђста / La Mariée [The Bride (Nastasia*)], Женихъ / Le Marié [The Bridegroom (Fetis)], Мать невђсты / La mère de la mariée [The Bride’s Mother], Отецъ жениха / Le Père du marié [The Bridegroom’s Father], Первый дружко / Le premier ami de noces [The first wedding guest (soprano)], Подружки / Les amies de noces [wedding guests], Les amies de la mariée [Friends of the bride], Bridesmaids, Friends of the Bridegroom, Marriage-broker (male and female); / Les amies de noces [wedding guests], Le premier ami de noces (Sopran) [Erster Hochzeitsgast (Soprano)]; ~ (Soloists): Soprano, Mezzo soprano, Tenor, Bass; ~ (Chorus): Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass; ~ (Orchestra): Piano I-IV, Piatti, Caisse claire sans timbre, Tambour sans timbre, Caisse claire à timbre, Tambour à timbre, Xylophone, Timpani, Grosse Caisse, Tambour de Basque, Triangolo (Triangle), deux crotales, une cloche [4 Pianos, Cymbals, Sidedrum without snares, Drum without snares, Sidedrum with snares, Drum with snares, Xylophone, Timpani (Kettle drums), Big Drum, Tambourin (Timbrel), Triangle, two Crotales, one Bell]; b) Performance requirements: Soprano, Mezzo soprano, Tenor, Bass, four-part mixed chorus (Sopranos**, Altos**, Tenors**, Basses***), Instruments = a)
* Nastassja; German translation (original): Nastasia and Nastjinka.
** Also divided.
*** Also divided and with Basso profundo.
Voice types (Fach): Soprano: range = d flat1 to b2; Mezzo-soprano: range = a to f sharp2; tenor: range = c to b1; bass: range = G sharp to g1, with the highest notes in falsetto. These are the usual registers, the extreme notes of which appear only relatively rarely.
Performance practice: The crotales used by Strawinsky only at the end, for which the score gives no exact instructions, are coin-sized, round bell dishes which, as Scherchen describes* (p.171), appeared in Paris for the first time in 1918, according to Strawinsky’s remarks. They sound on C sharp 3 and B flat 3. They became accepted themselves and in the meantime were produced in sets. The highest notes are in falsetto. Since there is no distribution of the roles according to voice-type, and traditional characteristics of the people are predominantly avoided, the four solo parts can also be sung by concert singers.
* Hermann Scherchen: Lehrbuch des Dirigieresn, Leipzig 1929, Reprint Schott Mainz 2006, p. 171.
Summary: The mother and bridesmaids braid the hair of the bride Nastasia (First scene). At the same time (Second scene), the hair of the bridegroom, Fetis, is anointed by his friends. They congratulate and call to the Mother of God, the Apostles and the Angels. Fetis asks his parents for their blessing. The bride (Third Scene) bids farewell, and also asks for her parents’ blessing. The mothers of the engaged couple bemoan the loss of their children. After the rear curtain at the beginning of the second movement is raised, a large room, almost entirely filled by a table, is seen, leading out of which there is a bed chamber, represented by an open door, in which there is a double bed. Around the table are gathered the feasting wedding guests. After many ceremonies and crowd scenes, the work, which has almost no plot, concludes with a scene showing the two sets of parents of the children, who have been led into the bedroom, sitting on a bench in front of the now closed door of the bedroom with their faces towards the remaining people celebrating further there, while the husband can be heard from inside the bedroom singing of his love.
Source: There is no textual original in the sense of a printed literary story, but there are numerous separate originals in the form of folk songs and folk stories, from which Strawinsky freely compiled his libretto. His main source was Piotr Kireyevsky’s collection of songs, which was republished in 1911 at the University of Moscow by V.F. Miller and M. B. Speransky under the title Пђсни, собранныя П. В. Кирђевскимъ. Новая серія and was first published between 1868 and 1874 in ten volumes. This collection of Kireyevsky, who died in 1856 at the age of 48 and whose achievement, alongside the collection itself, was to state the geographical origin of the song next to the song itself, became as famous as Afanassyev’s collection of fairy tales and became a source for all sorts of ethnographical research that can scarcely be measured. It can be assumed that Strawinsky came across this edition, published in Moscow, by July 1914 at the latest in Kiev, while he was staying there for commercial discussions, and he used the opportunity to transcribe Russian folksongs and fairy tales which he then evaluated for an entire series of separate compositions. With a few exceptions, in which Strawinsky used other collections (Sacharov, Tereshtshenko), all of Strawinsky’s textual originals can be traced back to Kireyevsky’s edition of 1911. Richard Taruskin has compiled them into an eighteen-page appendix with extensive and exemplary commentary following the scenes. The text for ‘Svadebka’ can therefore be read alongside the compilation of songs by Kireyevsky, which also involves back references and repetition. Strawinsky not only owned Kireyevsky’s and Afanssyev’s editions, but he was also on the lookout at the time for written records of folk poetry, the result of which filtered into Les Noces, Renard, A Soldier’s Tale as well as into certain songs. Strawinsky’s efforts in this direction were limited to a few years. He had already moved on by 1923, and never returned to it later. In any case, the influences are difficult to define because one must differentiate between the texts of the handed-down folk poetry and their musical models. Strawinsky never denied having taken the libretti of some early stage works from Russian text traditions or, as in the case of Renard, from several of them, but he named the melodies, in the course of time, that he had taken note-for-note from Russian folksong collections and incorporated into his pieces. In Les Noces there are three: first, the music for the husband’s request at figure 50. This melody is based on a chant that Strawinsky took from a collection of liturgical chants to the Octave *. After this came a popular mill song which his friend Stepan Mitussov had collected. Strawinsky used it at several points during the scene of the marriage feast, at figures 110, 120, 124, 125 and 130. The third point is that of the song of two drunken revellers from Vaud, with whom Strawinsky travelled on the funicular railway from Château d’Oex to Clarens one day at the end of January 1915. Strawinsky had to adapt the actual melody, which was replete with hiccup syncopations and which swung back and forth between the 4/4 and 3/4 time signatures of its original version. Its theme became the main theme of the final scene and appears at figures 93, 115, 116 and 126. It characterises the gradually physical condition of the celebrating wedding guests, becomes the final theme in the double bass solo at figure 133, and contests the final orchestral coda from figure 135 6. Strawinsky later explained that if moments in his music occasionally sounded like Russian folksong, then it was not because he had used one such folksong, rather because he wrote in the style of a Russian folksong. Strawinsky only took from Kireyevsky’s collection texts on the theme of Russian peasant weddings, which he divided into four depersonalized episodes and through-numbered them across Acts and Scenes. His language uses turns of phrase and single words one after another in sequence in the manner of tropes containing linguistic and poetical subtexts; they appear like flourishes through which culturally dependent meanings for the Russian marriage congregation are revealed. The linguistic formula therefore stands for a specific action, a behaviour, an act or failure;,an invitation which can become a game and which accordingly can also become very drastic. The situation itself appears out of the decoding of the ambiguity of the linguistic formula, dressed up in tropes. This creates problems of translation that are known for example to every scientific exegete of the Bible. The fourth tableau was translated by Ramuz as ‘Le Repas de noces’. Millar Craig translates it as The Wedding Feast, while Gutheim and Kruger follow the French text and turn it into Der Hochzeitsschmaus. In the Russian original, Красный столъ is given, which means ‘The red table’. Colours always have a political subtext for the Russians. Green, for example, can be represented very young or pallid as well as, in slang, eerie, so that green has become a colour of spirits. The Russian word for ‘mould’ and for ‘to go mouldy’ is depicted by green. For this reason, the immortal Kaschtschei, the Lord of the sinister realm of ghosts, Kikimor, always appears with green hands. The colour blue is linked to the beloved, and the word for ‘dove’ also comes from the Russian word for blue**. Red on the other hand is a poetical synonym for ‘beautiful. ‘The red table’ therefore actually means ‘the beautiful table’***, and the table is beautiful because the marriage feast is celebrated at it, which naturally consists for the most part of eating and drinking, but also reminds us of the reason for which the wedding is being celebrated at all. The wedding feast is accordingly a compression of the events in the scene which are in fact understood to a much greater extent by Strawinsky, to which the escort of the newly-weds in their bed chamber belongs to the same extent as the watch of the parents in front of the door, ensuring that the young couple remain undisturbed. Strawinsky himself explained such literary formulae in his memoirs and again and again suggested that the work was a solemn ritual adorned with formulaic language and interspersed with religious moments. Strawinsky cites the example of the adjective ‘bitter’ which, when spoken at the marriage feast, is an invitation to the husband to kiss his wife. It should certainly not be understood as having a deep and cryptic meaning, but comes from the usage of the language as it was known to the simplest Russian peasants. The adjective ‘bitter’ is горький in Russian. As a noun, not as an adjective, it is a slang word for alcoholic liquor, as it is also in the German, in which one can drink a ‘Bitter’. By simply replacing the Russian construction of final letters ий with an o , so горько , one forms the imperative ‘Kiss each other!’, which actually has nothing to do with the Russian verb for ‘to kiss’, but is understood very well. The procedure for peasant weddings is thus not a concealed secret ritual for the initiate in a sectarian manner, but a living language. Strawinsky therefore also used the rural, and not the urban, title, because the ritual, with its fixed spoken formulae can only be performed in the place where all around understand it and know what they must say and respond with. That was however the village with its community culture of small groups, not the city with its increasing anonymity, which could no longer guarantee such intimacy even in Russia.
* I.e. the week between Easter Sunday and the Sewcond Sunday of Eastern – more specifically – the Second Sunday of Easter itself. In the Roman Catholic Church there used to be “Octaves” after every major feast, in the middle of the 20th century their number was reduced, today there is one after Christmas and one after Easter. In the Orthodox Church exists from the beginning only the Octave of Easter (Christmas lasting two weeks).
** From which comes the symbolic connection in the first of the two Gorodetzky songs: ‘Dove’ = ‘dearest’.
*** Just like the Red Square in Moscow should actually mean ‘Beautiful Square’.
Construction: Les Noces is a ritual piece in scenes to be performed without interruption which has almost no plot; it is in demonstrated cantata form consisting of four scenes which are through-figured and divided into two acts.
Erstes Bild: Im Hause der Braut
Scene 1: At the Bride's House
Quaver = 80
(figure 101 up to figure 11)
Quaver = 160
(figure 1 1up to figure 1 13with repeat of figure 1 1-11)
dotted Crotchet = 80
(figure 2 1up to figure 3 7)
[Figure 1 1Занавђсъ – Rideau ]
Tempo Io Quaver = 80
(figure 4 1up to the end of figure 4 13)
Quaver = 160
(figure 5 1up to figure 8 2)
Quaver = 80 Tempo I
(figure 8 3-7)
Crotchet = 120
(figure 9 1up to the end of figure 26 7[ attaca subita weiter nach figure 27])
CHEZ LE MARIÉ
[Zweites Bild: Im Hause des Bräutigams
Scene 2: At the Bridegroom's House]
Crotchet = 120
([ attaca subita from figure 26 7] figure 27 1up to the end of figure 34 2)
Meno mosso Crotchet = 104
(figure 35 1up to the end of figure 39 10)
Poco più mosso Crotchet = 112
(figure 40 1-11)
Tempo Io Crotchet = 120
(figure 41 1up to the end of figure 50 7)
Crotchet = dotted Crotchet Più mosso
(figure 51 1-3)
dotted Crotchet = crotchet Tempo I o
(figure 51 4-5)
(figure 52 1-3)
Tempo I o
(figure 52 4-6)
(figure 52 7-9)
Quaver = quaver
(Figure 53 1up to the end of figure 64 6[attaca subita forward to figure 65])
LE DÉPART DE LA MARIÉE
[Drittes Bild: Aufbruch der Braut
Scene 3: The Bride's Departure]
Quaver = quaver L'istesso tempo
([ attaca subita from figure 64 6] figure 65 1up to the end of figure 71 6)
Quaver = quaver
(figure 72 1up to the end of figure 74 7)
Quaver = quaver
(figure 75 1up to the end of figure 76 4)
Quaver = quaver
(figure 77 1up to the end of figure 86 8[ attaca subita forward to figure 87])
[figure 80 1Проводы невђсты - всђ удаляются. – Le départ de la
mariée – tout le monde quitte la scène en l'accompagnant. [Ankunft der Braut. Alle verlassen gemeinsam die Szene – ]
[figure 81 1 Cцена пуста – La scéne reste vide [Die Bühne bleibt leer – ]
fFigure 82 1Входятъ матери жениха и невђсты съ каждой сцены. –
Entrent les mères du marié et de la mariée de chaque coté de la scène [– ]
[figure 82 1 lamentando ]
[figure 86 2Матери уходятъ. Cцена пуста – Les mères sortent. La
scène reste vide [Die Mütter gehen ab. Die Bühne bleibt leer. – ]
LE REPAS DE NOCES
Viertes Bild: Das Hochzeitsfest
Der rote Tisch
Scene 4: The Wedding Feast
The Red Table]
Allegro Crotchet = 180
([ attaca subita from figure 86 8] figure 87 1up to the end of figure 102 5)
[figure 98 1Мать невђсты подводитъ её къ своeму зятю – La mère
de la mariée l'amène à son gendre –
[figure 98 3Дрeжка, мать жениха, сватъ, сваха, всђ по очереди –
L'ami de noces, la mère du marié, le svat, la marieuse tour à tour –
Poco meno mosso
(figure 102 6up to the end of figure 103 6)
(figure 104 1up to the end of figure 135 16)
[Figure 114 1Жениховъ дружка выбираетъ изъ пођажанъ одного
мужа и жену и ведетъ ихъ обоспать для молодыхъ постель.– Un
ami des noces choisit parmi les invités un homme de sa femme et les
envois chauffer le lit pour les mariés –
[Figure 124 5 Poco rubato [#] tempo A
[figure 126 6Женихъ и невђста цђлуются – Le marié e la mariée
[figure 1130 Câàòú, îáðàùàÿñü êî ãðþùèìú ïîñòåëü – Le svat au
couple qui chauffe le lit –
[figure 130 1 Обогрђвающіе постель вылђзаютъ изъ нея. Фетиса и
Настасью ведутъ rъ постели, уклздываютъ ихъ, запираютъ дверь и оставляютъ.
Родители жен. и нев. уоаживзются на скамьђ передъ дверью. Всђ обращены
къ нимъ лицомъ.– Ceux qui chauffent le lit
sortent. On conduit Fètis et Nastasie jusqu'au lit et on les couche après quoi
on les laisse seuls et on ferme la porte. Les deux pères et les deux
mères s'installent devant la porte sur un banc, tout le monde leur
faisant face –
[figure 134 7Занавђсъ опускается медленно впродоженіе всей
послђдуюoщй музыки– Le rideau se baisse lentement durant toute
la musique suivante. –
Style: As with Renard and some other works, Les Noces cannot be classified using traditional formal terms. Les Noces is not an opera, nor is it a ballet. It is a work which people sought to subsume poorly years later under the all-too-general term ‘New Music Theatre’, and thus, like the Soldier’s Tale, it is a prototype of a sort of musical development in which the ‘genre’ was only of import for secundary composers; for example Strawinsky’s Symphonies are not symphonies, his Sonatas are not sonatas, not even a derivation. In his long letter to Ernest Ansermet of 23rd July 1919 from Morges, he basically rejected the term ‘ballet’ and for the first time, but not the last time, referred to Les Noces as a ‘Divertissement’, a term which would go into the printed edition at the beginning of March 1923. In writing to Struve, he referred to a ‘Russian song’ as a ‘cantata or rhapsody’. This stage work is however not an opera; it has neither a plot nor does it require a set or any direction. The instrumentation, conceived in 1919 for Pianola, Harmonium and percussion, does not fit into any conventional instrumental group. This series of stage works was Strawinsky’s own original idea to which no-one else had contributed. One can understand the annoyance that he felt and the otherwise disproportionately strong reaction that he gave when ‘contemporary witnesses’ piped up, questioning his originality by writing to other artists what had grown out of his mind, for example, Nabokov, when he ascribed the idea for Les Noces to the ballet impressario Diaghilev of all people (who truly had nothing to do with the creation of Les Noces, even though this piece would later become especially close to his heart), or Mrs. Yvonne Racz, when she put down the decision for the instrumentation for piano as being the result of consultation with Ansermet. Nabokov’s statement, published in his biography of Diaghilev and which should be understood as reverence for the king of ballet, that Les Noces (and Petrushka) were Diaghilev’s ideas, completely destroyed the relationship between Strawinsky and Nabokov for a long time. Nabokov was a man with a very sharp tongue who would make fun easily and gladly at the expense of others. He sometimes valued a ‘good’ joke more than a good friend, and Strawinsky heard everything second-hand. If it had not been for Nabokov’s exceptional administrative position later with his great influence on concert planning, through which Strawinsky, despite provision for Nabokov, was earning a great deal of money, as well as Nabokov’s unswerving efforts to re-establish his old relationship with Strawinsky, Strawinsky would have continued to leave Nabokov’s letters unanswered and done everything in his power to avoid him. The widow of the cymbalist Aladar Racz had also been in contact regarding the pre-history as a ‘contemporary witness’, insisting that Strawinsky had originally intended for there to be four cymbalons for the instrumentation. According to her, it was Ansermet’s powers of persuasion that convinced Strawinsky to use four pianos instead, because there was no city in which four cymbalon players could be found. Strawinsky stated that this was completely incorrect and that he had consulted no-one for his instrumentation of his pieces (‘This is absolutely wrong – I never consulted anybody for my instrumentation of Les Noces’). Strawinsky was so incensed that he reverted to his typical behaviour in such cases. He did not have the widow’s address and wanted to write to her through Peter Bartók to ask her to correct this statement. Strawinsky had originally sent back a letter from Bartók with a comment on another matter and had thrown away the envelope, and so did not have his address either. He therefore wrote on 22nd March 1965 to Stewart Pope of Boosey & Hawkes publishers and asked him to find the widow’s address and to help him in this ‘stupid affair’. – While the libretto is a combination of texts from the Kireyevsky collection with a specific content, the music to it is not a collage, but an constant reworking of a single small intervallic combination of a minor third and a major second, which form a fourth. Viktor Belayev demonstrated this process in his much vaunted study of Les Noces from 1928* with the same care with which Taruskin traced the textual collage from Kireyevsky. Through this varying motific technique, the score becomes an organism of such unity that Strawinsky would probably never reach in any other work again. The germ motif, which is Dorian or Mixolydian in all its permutations, depending on how one divides the scale in fourths, also dominates the thematic material as soon as it appears; new themes are always first introduced as counterpoints to a theme that is already being played, before they appear as self-standing themes. The germ motif also allows bitonality. The construction of Les Noces thus becomes a technical, bar-for-bar analysis because the manner of expression is not through images but formulae which stand in place of the images. Static wailing or syncopated, rhythmic burlesques: the basic motif is used in permutations, varied, used in counterpoint, and its elements are mixed, manipulated into one another and inverted; no bar is like another, but all are constructed using the same process, and practically every bar is related to all the others and can be reinserted, swapped round or removed. A ritual formulaic text with religious and worldly themes stands against the ritualistic, almost static events on stage, which are accompanied by music that is constructed on a basic framework of variations which is just as formalized. That which is not remarkable becomes an image of life, which is constantly repeated in this form and forces every single person into his own cycle and normalizes his individuality. Man is born as a man or a women, grows up as a man or a woman, is protected by his parents as a man or a woman, leaves this protecting house as a man or a woman and finds a new stage of life in a new cycle of life as a man or a woman, so that one day they can go home where even it is once again as a man or awoman. There is nothing missing in this work, neither mourning nor laughing. Strawinsky depersonalised the music and left out contrasts, and even set the aesthetic categories differently from usual. Mourning and laughing are not opposites but constituent parts of eternal normality. Worldly and religious matters are coupled together. Life itself is, like the musical formula, a variety of the same thing again and again. From this comes the idea, as already attempted in Fox/Renard and pre-empted in Sacre, of the individual event bound into the collective and no longer has anything to do with the self-standing aesthetic category in the world of genres. Les Noces finally left the world of genres behind it, and is not an opera, a ballet, a cantata, a rhapsody, but is all of them at the same time. The tempo proceeds, with two short exceptions, at 80 or 120 beats per minute. Cocteau used the catchy image of a racing car, which is problematic (no: it is wrong) because the flow of time of the work is not the Allegro, but the continuity. The voice parts enter immediately and do not rest until 21 bars before the end. This end is, to anticipate a word later used by Strawinsky, monometric, with rests/pauses and general pauses gradually growing larger. The work flows out in the same way as it enters, without a prelude; it is only part of an unending repeating story.
Dedication: A Serge de Diaghilew [To Serge de Diaghilew].
Duration: 5' 12" (I.1), 6' 06" (I.2), 3' 11" (I.3), 10' 23" (II.4).
Date of origin: Salvan / Morges July 1914 up to December 1917; Biarritz / Monaco by the end of Winter 1922/23 up to 6. April 1923 - or four developmental versions, depending on the instrumentation: 1914-1915, 1915-1916, 1914-1916, 1921-1923.
First performance: The staged première took place on 13th June 1923 in the Théâtre de la Gaîtè-Lyrique in Paris in Russian with Hélène Smirnowa (Soprano), Maria Dawidowa (Mezzo Soprano), Michel d'Arial (Tenor) and Georges Landskoy (Bass) from the opera houses of St. Petersburg and Moscow, with the Solo Dancers Felia Dubrowska (Bride), Nikolai Semjonow (Bridegroom), Ljubowv Tschernischewa und Léon Woidzikowski (couple of friends) and the Ensemble Les Balletts Russes de Serge de Diaghilew (Tschernischewa, Dubrowska, Chollar, Nikitina, Bewicke, Damaskina, Maikerska, Sumarokowa, Allanowa, Krassowska, Rosenstein, Coxon, Komarowa, Nemtschinowa, Zalewska, Evina, Sumarokowa II, Antonowa, Zawitzka, Trussewitsch, Grekulowa, Woidzikowsky, Swerew, Slawinsky, Kremnew, Jaswinsky, Fedorow, Semjonoff, Skibine, Michailow, Tscherkas, Lapitzky, Hoyer, Hoyer II, Lifar, Unger, Kohanowsky), with Georges Auric, Edouard Flament, Hélène Léon and Marcelle Meyer (Pianos); Choreography: Bronislawa Nijinska; Stage design and costumes: Natalja Gontscharowa; Stage direction: Serge Grigoriew, choir director: Boris Kibalschitsch, conducted by Ernest Ansermet. Before the première, there was a private pre- première on 11th June 1923 at the Parisian house of the Princess of Polignac. The first concert performance was arranged by Hermann Scherchen on 24 thNovember 1925 in Frankfurt. There were even comparable performances of different versions in the ‘60’s in the United States of America.
Remarks: There is no other composition by Strawinsky for which the history of its composition is so unsettled, long-drawn-out and problematic as that of Les Noces. One of the sources of ideas for the work must have been a Jewish wedding in Leysin, as Robert Craft observes. The first mention of the title can be found in a letter from Alexander Sanin to Strawinsky dated 17th February 1913. As soon as the new Free Theatre was founded in Moscow, Strawinsky was called upon for a stage work. Sanin recalled having heard the title of a stagework at that point in the planning stages, Marriage, from Strawinsky, which was an unimportant change of title from ‘Svadebka’ and ‘Swadba’. Sanine refers several times in his letter to свадеба , and at no point to свадебка .Sanine probably misheard. Strawinsky must have put him right straightaway, as scarcely a month later in a letter from Sanine to Strawinsky dated 14th March 1913, the title was given in the way that it was finally published. Strawinsky began composing in 1914 in Clarens and completed the short score on 4th April 1917. The work was completed at the end of 1917, but lay untouched as a result of the War. The orchestration has its own history. Strawinsky needed five years, an unbelievable amount of time, to settle upon the final instrumentation. He originally wanted to develop two separate formations of sound. The first was to consist of the choir, the woodwind and brass instruments, and the second of a body of strings only, which was to be divided up into two string orchestras, the first of which was to play pizzicato and the second with bows. The plan was given up after a few pages because the estimated massed forces of one-hundred-and-fifty instrumentalists required would rule out any further performances after the eventual première. Strawinsky’s planning now turned to the opposite of a mammoth orchestra. Electric Pianola, harmonium, expanded percussion and two cymbals of different pitch appeared to be the solution, and Strawinsky orchestrated two complete scenes using this. He then gave up on this plan after it turned out that, according to the situation of performing practice at the time, mechanical instruments and sung voices could not be made to synchronise with one another. Only now was the final version reached. Strawinsky clearly took up the setup of the bodies of sound from the first version once again and worked with two groups of instruments, this time they were percussion, to which the keyboard instruments, the pianos, were also added. The first group included percussion instruments of a fixed pitch (4 non-mechanical pianos, xylophone, timpani, 2 castanets, bells), and in the other those without a fixed pitch (2 small drums of different sizes without snares, 1 drum without snares, Bass Drum, tambourine, sleigh bells, triangle). He completed this version after five years of effort, according to the statement in the score on 6th April 1923 in Monaco. There were similar problems here as with the Soldier’s Tale as regards the exact specification of the percussion. Strawinsky had also originally specified 3 small drums (Caisses claires sans doute) of different sizes (grande, moyenne, petite) for Les Noces as well. This is what Strawinsky wrote to Ansermet in a letter, probably from 5th February 1923, regarding this query. A couple of days afterwards, he replaced the ‘caisse claire moyenne sans doute’ with a normal drum without snares and also asked Ansermet to transfer this nomenclature to the beginning of the Divertissement. The harmonium part was written in July-August 1919. In his very extensive letter to Ansermet dated 26th May 1919 from Morges, Strawinsky explained to him the situation with the commercial agreements that had been made with Diaghilev and the publishers. According to these, Diaghilev was to pay Strawinsky twenty thousand Swiss Francs for the exclusive performance rights for two years. Furthermore, he was to give back the handwritten parts to the publishers after the successful printing of the parts in exchange for the printed parts themselves, and was to pay a performance fee of 100 Francs to the publishers for every performance in the future. By printed parts, this does not refer to the material available to buy, but that available to hire. When Diaghilev heard the piece for the first time, he is said to have cried and have said that Les Noces was the most beautiful and most Russian thing that Strawinsky had written up to that point. It was immediately recognized by all as a work that defined a style and it was with a characteristic production by Diaghilev with similar critical comments. At one point, it founded a wave of a style called Neo-Primitivism, in which Carl Orff’s work for choir Carmina Burana was written, which broke down Strawinsky’s original and thus popularized it. The English première on 14th June 1926 was comparatively coolly received. From the ‘30’s onwards, the work fell into obscurity, which was also connected with the performance conditions and the political events. Thanks to Ashton’s production of 1966, it gained increasingly popularity from the ‘70’s onwards.
Production: In 1923, Bronislava Nijinska responded to the stasis of the stage plot by restricting movements which had no demonstrative or theatrical character, and did not demonstrate itself to the audience in a Classical sense. The choreographer developed circles, rows and blocks which dislocate themselves against one another, and open and close every scene with a pyramid of men, who appear opened out at the end again and this both structurally defines the choreography as well as leads itself back to its origin again. The ritualistic depersonalisation of the plot that occurs deflects the choreographical energy towards the corps de ballet. The action comes from this group, while the soloists react passively. The whole stage was used, and stylized folklore and sacrally derived formations were worked in. Nijinska’s choreography was used in 1926 in London, 1926 in Buenos Aires, in 1933 in Paris, 1936 in New York.
Historical recordings: London 10th June 1934 in English with Kate Winter (Soprano), Linda Seymour (Mezzo Soprano), Parry Jones (Tenor), Roy Hendersen (Bass) under the direction of Igor Strawinsky; Hollywood 21st December 1959 with Mildred Allen (Soprano), Regina Sarfaty (Mezzo Sopran0), Loren Driscoll (Tenor), Robert Oliver (Bass), Samuel Barber, Aaron Copland, Lukas Foss and Roger Sessions (Piano), The American Concert Choir and the Columbia Percussion Ensemble under the direction of Igor Strawinsky.
CD-Edition: I-3/1-4 (Recording Hollywood 21st December 1959).
Autograph: The manuscript of the piano reduction is stored at J. & W. Chester in London. Strawinsky gave some pages of sketches to Lord Berners as a present, while the main body of the sketches was bought by Werner Reinhart for five-thousand Swiss Francs and given into the care of the Rychenberg Stiftung in Winterthur. – It passed from Strawinsky’s estate into the Paul Sacher Foundation: score fragments 1st tableau of the 1914/15 version for large orchestra with two string orchestras; score fragments 1st tableau of the 1917 orchestral version with cymbalum, clavicembalo and harp; incomplete score of the 1st and 2nd tableaux of the 1919 version for two cymbals, harmonium, pianola and percussion, as well as sketches, drafts of the score and a neat copy of the final version.
Copyright: 1922 by Chester Music in London.
40-1 1923 VoSc; R-F; Chester London; 180 pp. 4°; J. W. C. 9718.
40-1Strawibd. [with annotations]
40-2 1924 FuSc; R-F; Chester London; 132 pp. 2°; J. W. C. 45.
40-2Strawibd. [with annotations]
40-3 1927 PoSc; R-F; Philharmonia Wien; 132 pp. 8°; W.Ph.V. 296 J. W. C. 45 B; 296.
40-4  PoSc; R-F; Chester London; 132 pp. 8°; W. Ph. V. 296 J. W. C. 45 B.
b) Characteristic features
K Catalog: Annotated Catalog of Works and Work Editions of Igor Strawinsky till 1971, revised version 2014 and ongoing, by Helmut Kirchmeyer.
© Helmut Kirchmeyer. All rights reserved.
http://www.kcatalog.org and http://www.kcatalog.net