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Thèse de doctorat/ PhD Thesis Citation APA:

Truman, P. A. (1981). Stravinsky's approach to opera (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Université libre de Bruxelles, Faculté de Philosophie et Lettres, Bruxelles.

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Philip A. Truflian


Volume Pour

Dissertation présentée à

1’Université Libre de Bruxelles pour l'obtention du grade de Docteur en Philosophie et Lettres

Section: Histoire de l'Art et Archéologie Sous-section; ulusicolûgie

1981 Directeur de these:

î/'onsleur le Professeur Robert Wangermée



Philip A. Truman


Volume Pour

Dissertation présentée à

l’Universite Libre de Bruxelles pour l’obtention du grade de Docteur en Philosophie et Lettres

Section: Histoire de l’Art et Archéologie Sous-section: Musicologie


V Directeur de these:

Monsieur le Professeur Robert V/angermée




Conceived in the spring of 1921, less than a year séparâtes the initial and final stages of the actual composition of the one- act opéra buffa Llavra. Its composition vias begun at Ânglet at the end of the summer of 1921 and was completed, except for the Cverture which was added a few weeks later (at Monts Carlo, Marseilles and Paris), at Biarritz, 9 March, 1922.

The inspiration for v/hat, in Expositions (p.71), Stravinsky calls this "skit-opera," came during Stravinsky's participation in Diaghilev's plans for the revival of Tchaikovsky's ballet The Sleeping Beauty at the Alhambra, London (2 November, 1921).”* Ghvo numbers from the full score of the ballet, hov/ever, had been eut

(with Tchaikovsky's consent) by the conductor of the Maryinsky Theatre premiers in 1890, Riccardo Drigo, to meet the requirements of the choreographer (Petipa), These numbers - the 'Variation d'Aurore' and the 'Entr'acte symphonique' (both from Act II) - være missing from Diaghilev's copy, and he asked Stravinsky to orchestrate them from the piano score. Entnused by this work on 2 Tchaikovsky, a composer underrated and out of fashion in Europe at that time, Stravinsky wrote an open letter to Diaghilev in praise of Tchaikovsky's music and, in particular, of Tchaikovsky's Russian- ness:

Tchaikovsky's music is quite as Russian as Pushkin's verse or Glinka's song. \Yhile not specifically culti- vating in his art the 'soûl of the Russian peasant', Tchaikovsky drew unconsciously from the true, popular sources of our race.3

Furthermore, Stravinsky resolved to write an opéra that v/ould be

as "Russian as Pushkin's verse or Glinka's song." ',Vith Boris Kochno,^

his librettist, therefore, Stravinsky searched among the Russian classics for a scénario that would hâve only a fev/ characters, and they finally settled on Pushkin's rhymed, satirical poera, The Little

House. at Kolomna.



Kochno's version of the story is set in a sraall Russian" town at tne time of Charles X. The action begins in the living-room of a middle-class family vvhere Parasha, the daughter, is sitting by

the window, embroidering and singing of her lover, a handsome hussar called Vasili. He later appears ax the windov/ and sings a a gipsy song. In the ensuing love-duet, Parasha at first. expresses her doubts about Vasili's déclarations of love for her; sne is eventually convinced, hov/ever, and before they part, they arrange to. meet later by a tavern.

, After he has gone Parasha's mother enters, lanienting the death of their old,cook, Phioclusha, and complaining of the difficulty of life v/ithout a. servant. She tells Parasha to go out and look for a nev/ maid (vvhich Parasha does). In her absence a neighbour visits the mother and the f-vo v/omen exchange gossip. Their chatter. is inter-

rupted by the return of Parasha v/ho has brought with.her a new cook called Mavra, and ail four characters then.proceed to sing of the faithful but deceased Phioclusha. Eventually. thè neighbour leaves and the-mother asks Parasha to' show the nev; cook . her room and to explain her duties. The mother then leaves to change her cio thés.

. :This is the moment for v;hich. Parasha'and Mavra hâve been waiting, for the new cook is none other.than Vasili (disguised), and they imraediately sing an impassioned-duet. Parasha then joins her. mother for a v/alk, leaving Mavra to the domestic chores (and thoughts of love). Mavra's thoughts also remind him that it is time.-:'to shave-, and in the middle ..of this operation mother and daughter retum. The mother; thinking that the 'stranger' is a thief, faints from shock, but she recovers just in time to see him ,leap.. out of . the v;indow. and to hear her daughter crying after him, "Vasili, -Vasili !'V

C.bmpared v/ith the'plot .of the opéra, that of Pushkin's poem;

is rudimentary and less important to.the work:


An old v/oman and her daughter Parasha live in a humble little shack in Kolomna, a quiet part of St.Petersburg, ■ Their cook dies, and Parasha eventually finds a nev/ one v/ho is not expensive and who seems to be a reasonable girl, though, it transpires, not a very good cook, One day, whilst mother and daughter are in church, it occurs to -the mother that the nev/ cook may take advantage of their absence to rob them, They rush home, therefore, only to- discover the new 'girl' shaving, and who promptly vanishes v/ithout a trace.

In the course of the poem it is hinted that Parasha enjoys the company of a number of soldiers in the neighbourhood; the 'cook', therefore, vvas probably one such soldier Parasha had srauggled into the house . to enjoy a doser friendship.

Although the essence of Pushkin's story is retained by Kochno, there is, nevertheless, considérable change in the setting and the characters of the opéra, Thus, from an honest and wor.thy, , but not very wealthy family that lives' in a humble little shack in Kolomna (a suburb of St,Petersburg in which Pushkin had actually lived for a time), the opéra is set in the -country v/here a comfortably-off, conventional, bourgeois family has-domestic servants and prétentions to rise in society by associating,with the 'upper class' - military officers. As for the. .characters: '. • ■

In- littlè House at Kolomna

Parasha: Ey no raeans the quiet, domesticated girl that the setting might suggest; and she.uses her pale beauty to good effect (stanzâ

In Mavra

Parasha is a more naïve country girl, .faithful to her Vasili, and certainly 25): no flirt.

"...before her window

VVere always passing ' guardsmen with black moustaches, And the. girl knew how to attràct them Without the aid of expensive fashions."5

Mother: A subdued old lady v/ho. has a A more crédible figure v/ho limited rôle in-the' domestic background ;has opinions and reactions and. v/ho se only f une tion, it seems, is to



décor and costume design

by Survage


catch the cook shaving; she is a rather lifeless character, in fact.

Guardsnian: He has no name and his principal rôle see.ms to be that of a man dressed as a cook, Not until stanza 36 is it revealed that the

’cook' is a man and (probably) the guardsman.

Kussar: More gallant and dashing than a mere guardsman, the hussa also has a more substantial rôle That the cook is the hussar can- not be concealed in the opéra, and had he not appeared early in the plot his significance as the cook wüuld hâve been missed.


(the dead cook)

She does not reçoive the elaborate tributes paid to her raemory in

the opéra; indeed, her loss is felt most by a cat (stanza 28).

She helps to provide much of the atmosphère and characterization of the house and the Mother.

(No mention of a cat).

Neighbour: No neighbour. The Neighbour is,a valuable addition to the list of charac- ters since she .allows the family to be, seen in a social setting and fills in the vacuum created by the isolated unit of only one family in the poem.

, In his- re-working of Pushkin's poem .Kochno retained fev; of the original Unes; those that are retained, or only slightly altered, are passages bf direct speech (of v/hich there. is very little in Pushkin's poem) and a folksong, thus:

In Little. Kouse at Kolomna . In Mavr'a

direct speech - stanza 27 corresponds to i bar after ^ig 30 to

■1 bar before fig.32., -■ stanzas 30-31 " " 4 ,bars after-fig.74 to

5 bars after fig.75, and fig.73 te T bar.before 85



and the folksong, collected by Pushkin in Boldino in 1883

corresponds to Parasha's first aria (fig.1).

Nevertbeless, the essence of Pushkin's style regains in Kochno’s libretto, an important element of that style being an imagination deeply rooted in folklore;^ hovv Kochno captured this style in his libretto may be illustrated by a comparison of the first two arias in Mavra - the first, Parasha's aria, v/as ’.vritten by Pushkin, the second,, the Kussar's aria, by Kochno:

1. My dear friend, ray little sun,

My bright falcon, my grey-v;inged eagle.

For a v/eek l've not seen you,

Pully, seven days since I came to knovv grief As I v/àndered through dark woods.

In a dark'Wood little songbirds sing,

And add -to my girlish sorrov/ at being apart.

Do not sing, little bird, in the garden.

Do not sing, my dear one, in the garden.

Do not bring melancholy into ray heart.7 2. Zing-a-ling

The bells are ringing Ra-ta-ta-

The druras roll

....(Parasha's interpolation)

Look here. ail you people (A lyudi to lyudi, Corne look at :the gipsy Ay lyushen'ki, lyudi Corne and' catch the vvhirling, A lyudi, to, lyudi swirling, lovely gipsy girl. Ha tsiganochka) Corne hear her' singing,

Corne see her dance, Her scarf go s s v/hirling Ra-ta-ta-ta-ta-



Ker skirts go swirling,.

Corne and hear her song. .

(These^are. Fuller's and Craft's;translations of, respectively, Pushkin's and Kochno's verses - see footnote'5).

Thenumerous features of folk poetry in Parasha'-s aria such a the use of stock epithets - "My dear friend, ray little sun," "my grey-v/inged eagle," "in a dark v;ood" - or the use'of répétition -


"...through dark woods. In a dark wood...,” "Do not sing...Do not sing...Do not bring" - and the nature symbolism and its association v/ith buaan feelings, hâve their parallel in the Hussar's aria v/here the jingle o.f the opening couplet, the meaningless v/ords in the next three lines ( though - ' lyudi ' actually means people , ’lyuli' vvould be tne authentic, meaningless v/ord found in many folk-dance-songs), the 8 use 01 diminutives (for example, the diminutive form - ’little gipsy girl' - in the Hussar's aria), and the rhymes, ail hâve their origin in folksong. (It may be noted at this point that Mavra v/as the last of Stravinsky's opéras to use a Russian text and as with Renard, the original idiomatic Russian remains obscure and suffers in translation - see chapter 15).

Kochno's libretto also retained the element of burlesque from the original poem v/here, basically, Pushkin was caricaturing tradition Thus, although The Little Kouse at Kolomna contains ail the features of a conventional, 19th-century sentimental taie, including the all- important social and personal relationships, instead of treating these subjects seriously, Pushkin toyed v/ith them. At the end of the poem, for example, Pushkin adhères to the conventions of drav/ing a moral from the taie, but very quickly m.akes it only a parody of a moral conclusion;

, Here's a moral for you: in my opinion

It's dangerous to employ a cook.for nothing;

For someone bom a man

Dressing up in a skirt is strange and futile:

Some tirae he'll hâve to

Shave his beard, v/hich does not accord

With a lady's nature.... ïïothing more than this ' Can you squeeze from ray story. (Stanza 40)

This element of burlesque in Pushkin's poem is of particular rele- vance to Stravinsky's complementary caricatures in the music of Mavra of certain conventions of 19th-century opéra and, along v/ith other correspondences betv/een the contents of the story/poem and the music, v/ill be exarained in ■ the later investigation of the musical language of Mavra.


Musical language

In sevenal of his publisned texts Stravinsky has indicated the reasons and stimuli vvhich prompted him to vvrite the opena Mavra. In addition to .those v.'hich, as already ’noted, emanated from his work en Tchaikovsky's ballet The Sleeoing Beauty, in Poe tics (pp.57-58), for example, he suggests that it was also because he was attracted by the qualities and traditions of the operatic formulae of the old Russo- Italian opéra as opposed to the nature of the music draina v/hich, he felt, "represented no tradition at ail from .the.hiatoricàl point of view and which fulfilled no necessity^at ail from the musical point of view, " ■ and. because, he adds a few sentences later,- "I simply wanted

...to'try my hand at the living form of 'opéra-bouffe' which was so v/ell suited to the Pushkin taie which gave me ray subject." In the later Expositions (p.72), he gives yet another reason:

I wanted to show a different Russia to my non-Russian, and especially to my Prench, colleagues, who were, I considered, saturated with the tourist-office o.rientalism of the 'raaguchia kuchka', the 'powerfül clique', as Stassov used to call the Pive. I ’was, in fact, protesting against the picturesque in Russian music and against those who failed to see that the picturesque is produced by very smali tricks.

In his earlier Autobiography (p.97) Stravinsky had described this

"ethnographical" nationalism of the Five as;

...a doctrinaire catechisra which they wanted to impose....

What is soobvious in them...is that naïve but dangerous tendency which prompts them to remake an art that has already been crea.ted instinctively by the genius of the people. It is a stérile tendency...

On the other hand, the prominent place nationalism played.in the music of such composers as Glinka and Tchaikovsky he ,saw as flowing

"spontaneously from their very nature."

Thus, although both 'schools' - the 'ethnographie' and the

’cosmopolitan' - used musical material. from the Russian melos and constructed their forms on European models, Stravinsky felt that their attitudes and concepts differed in'origin as well as in


inspiration. Betv/een the two, Stravinsky draws a fine line, but one which clearly rejects nationalism in art merely for the sake of nationalism; and Mavra. of course, was to be an expression of.the cosinopolitan aesthetic,

Stravinsky, in fact, dedicated his opéra to two of those., 'cosmo- politan' Russian composers - Glinka and Tchaikovsky - as well as to

the poet of its inspiration, Pushkin, another 'cosmopolitan, for, as Stravinsky describes him in his Autobiography (p.97), he was;

By his nature, his nentality, and his ideology...the most perfect représentative of that wonderful line which begins with Peter the Great and which, by for- tunate alloy, has united the most characteristically Russian éléments with the spiritual riches of the V/est.

These statements not only provide reasons for the form and the style that Stravinsky chose in composing Mavra. they also represent his. attitude tov/ards the Russian tradition from which he came and the Western tradition to which he was moving at the time of its composition - traditions generally referred to as his 'Russian' period and his

'neoclassic' period. With Mavra. he had, as it v/ere, a 'foot in both camps'.

This ambivalence is also shared by his three dedicatees, for they, too, created in a fused world of East and West. Ail three be- longed "not to the provincial and in many ways still médiéval world of Moscow but to the court-and-embassy dominated cosmopolitan northern capital, St.Petersburg, that strange cross between Venice and Stock- holm." Thus when Stravinsky speaks of Glinka, ne is referring, 10

primarily, to a work such as A -Life for the Tsar where, unlike Ruslan and-Ludmilla. the prevailing mélodie idiom'is 'nicely Eurôpean',

where the Italian formai, influence is strong, and where there is much less local colour - an idiom, indeed, infl-uenced by Glinka's prolonged stay in Italy. As for Tchaikovsky.; - whp, Stravinsky says, in

■Poetics (p.97), "found his true expression by tuming to occidental culture" - though he had no exclusive sympathy for Italian music, he


did admire and, in his music, capture its elegance and proportion.

It was this elegance as well as the sense of humour in Tchaikovsky’s music that, Stravinsky says in Expositions (p.73), he wanted to

indicate in Mavra.

In modelling Mavra on the formulae of.the old Russo-Italian opéra and the musical traditions exemplified by Glinka and Tchaikovsky, a curious kinship, with Pushkin may be traced, for Pushkin's literary style had also been enriched by 'foreign' éléments. Kany of his works, for instance, bear sorae affinity to Byron - romantic subjects treated 11 in a classical style, the alternation of the strictly formai v/ith a conyersational manner, a mixture of cynicism and idealism, and an underlying concern for liberty. The Little House at Kolomna, in fact, v/as modelled on Byron'S' poem Beppo - not only dO' the tv/o works hâve

sirailar plots, but they both hâve the same bantering tone and a simi- lar commentary on the plot, and both, moreover, are written in the same métré (5-foot iambic). One more link in the chain of affinities uniting the work of ail four artists,. it may be noted, is the fact

that Pushkin provided thè basis for the scénarios of Glinka's Ruslan and Ludmilla - the first opéra based on a Pushkin text - of Tchaikov- sky's Queen of Spades, and, of course, Stravinsky's Mavra. (Though - Pushkin seeras to hâve hàd no serions interest in music himself, his poetry offered a balance of richness and siraplicity - particularly of a folkloristic type - and of romantic ardour and classical shape- liness which did, however, hâve a great attraction for a number of rausicians, especially Russian ones, and which provided for them a

fund of sources - see footnote 6).

With regard to the particular relationship that exists between Pushkin's poem and Stravinsky's opéra, it was'remarked earlier in

this chapter that-Pushkin digressed from, and toyed with, certain, literary conventions of his time; similarly, Stravinsky 'borrows'- frcra certain, standard, musical formulae and then 'misapplies' them.

Drawing, for example,■from a variety of sources - from Russian, ' 19th-century opéra, Italian comic opéra, folk music, ragtime, and v/hat the 19th-century regarded as gipsy music - he Juxtaposes


them with distinctive features of his own music and does unexpected things v/ith the résultant mixture - suggesting that Mavra is more a caricature or burlesque of comic opéra than a récréation of the genre. The disparity between the resuit and what is expected is manifested in a number of ways throughout the opéra; a limpid,

flowing vocal line, for example, may be provided with harsh harmonies, a fierce or, conversely, dull ostinato, or mechanical accompaniment, and, above ail, with the brittle, dry sounds of a predominantly v;ind- band orchestra; or an implied harmonie direction may differ markedly from the direction actually taken; or the rhythmic implications of

the vocal line might conflict with the rhythms of the accompaniment;

or, like Pushkin's poem, Stravinsky's music, at the end, fails to be conclusive. This disparity, of course, aids the spirit of comic opéra by providing a, sériés of farcical and incongruous effects for the equally farcical characters on stage.

Thus the parody .within Pushkin's plot and.Kochno's libretto, together with Stravinsky,'s antagonism to the music drama of V/agner and the picturesque, nationalist element in Russian music as typified by the Pive, and the adoption of a Russo-I.talian style in which, . according to Boris ; de Schloezer, the Italien style is "profoundly deformed by the Russian ’taste' v/hich is still searching but has already made ■ some delicious discoveries," are just some,oi the 12 factors determining the musical language. Stravinsky employed in the composition of Mavra; to these must be added Stravinsky's .recent expérience in adapting Pergolesi's music for Pulcinella. Ail cf these factors not only affected each element of the musical language oi Mavra - melody, rhythm, tonality, harmony, etc., - but they were to increase.and further stimulate in Stravinsky that awareness (cf.

Pulcinella - the first of his ' love-affairs' .with .the .past) that certain idioms found in the music of earlier periods were still valid and valuable, and that they could be transmuted to..his OY/n compositional procedures. And although the musical language of Mavra is as contemporary as much as it is traditional, it is the first of his operatic compositions (excluding portions pf The Soldier's Taie) in v/hich historical av/areness is à dominant, governing factor. His


later opéras, Oedipus Rex. Persiphone, The Rake's Progress and, in a different sense, The Flood (as vvell as many non-theatrical v/orks - the Octet, 1923, S:/mohony in G, 1940,' Symphony in Three Movements.

1945, iVIass. 1948, etc., - and, of course, his ballets - Apollon or Agon. for example), continue this historical awareness of the "spiri­

tual riches of the West."

Karmony and Tonality

' Pundamental ,to the musical organization of the majority of the scores of Stravinsky are the principles of tonality:(albeit his own brand of■tonality), and, as far as hiç early opéras are concerned, those principles are, more than ever, affirmed in Mavra. As the skeletal plan of the principal tonalities (predominantly minor) em- ployedin this opéra indicates (see next page), each of the.diverse numbers has a solid tonal base which is linked or contrasted with the next and v/hich belongs to a very clear and basically simple scheme.

Important to this tonal organization is. 7/hat Stravinsky, in Poetics (p.36), termed "the polar attraction of.sound." The Overture, for. example, begins with a key signature, of G minor and a pedal-note of G. This G, however, is not so much a key as a nodal centre around which varions ’keys' revolve: thus the note G is. first heard, in the initial .three bars, as,the tonie of G minor, but immediately after- wards, as the mediant of Eb major (Ex.4tT8a), this duality continùing until the 'Ldttle Russian' tune (similar to that which occurs in Tchaikovsky's .Symphony no.2.. incidentally) . enters; at letter G, at which point the note G' appears as both the sub-mediant of Bb and

tonie of G (Ex.4.î8b ) ; and in like fashion G continues to appear as a centrifugal force throughout the Overture.

In later movements, too, G continues to function as a-unit of (continued p . 507)


Tonal scheme of Mavra

1. Overture Orchestra


Eb major (G minor)

2. Aria - Parasha (fig.1) Bb minor

3. Aria ■ - Hussar (6) 3 minor

4. Duet - Parasha/Hussar (12) E minor - G major 5. Aria


- Parasha (27) Bb minor

6. Episode - Mother/Parasha (dialogué)

(28) Bm - Em - Bm

7. Aria - Mother (34) Pm-' - Dm - Bm

8. Episode - Mother/Neighbour (dialogue)

(43) ■ A minor- 9. Duet - Mother/Neighbour . (44) Ara'- CM - Am

incorporating Neighbour's aria (60) D minor - C minor Mother's aria (64) C minor

10. Trio - Ivi 01 n e r/N e i gh b 0 u r / Parasha

(68) P minor/major - Dm

11 , Quartet - Mo ther/N eighbour/


(73) AbM - Pm.- Dm - Gm/M

12. Trio - Mother/Neighbour/

Parasha '

(91) D minor - G major

13. Episode -■ Mother/Parasha

■ (dialogue)

(94) A minor

14. Duet - Parasha/Cook (97) Bbm/M - G4- m - Bbm

— pm

(Waltz - tl tl (125) C major/minor)

15. Episode - Parasha/Cook/Mother (dialogue)

(134) E minor

16. Aria - Hussar (Cook) (140) Bb miner - Eb minor 17. Coda - Ail characters (163) Eb major

(the 'dialogues' are sung)


control, or pôle of attraction. In Parasha's first aria, for instance, the note G appears as a major 6th in the vocal line (Ex.418c), as tonie of the first modulatory section, and as the 7th of the chord in the next section in D minor (Ex.418d). Then, in the first duet betv/een Parasha and the Hussar, G minor (with both raised and natural 7th)’is particularly évident as upper strings highlight the perfect cadence-ostinato in the horns above an arpeggio-ostinato in the 'celles and basses (also in G minor - though there is the occasional and t^i^iJi- cally Stravinskyan presence of the 'ambiguous' major 3rd, B); at the end of this duet, G minor/major is even more firmly established.as the levers arrange their next rendezvous to repeated G's, marking time, as it were, until they meet again (Ex..418« - which illustrâtes ail of these features of the duet) - the G's in-this :case,. it may.be nôted, also préparé for the return of Bb minor and the, brief récapitulation of Parasha's aria. Pleeting glimpses of G are also to be found in the passages of gossip between the Mother and the Neighbour (figs.45-47,

50-52, for instance), or as altemate 5th and root of the ostinato chords accompanying the D minor 'folk tune' of the Neighbour (fig.ôl, for example); and in the quartet, G re-establishes itself, raomentarily, as a tonie (figs.90-93), becoming, at.fig.93, a 'leading-note' anchor

(in flûte and horn) to the Ab major music to which. the'Neighbour départs, as well as a- welcome moment of (brief) repose in this work of rapid and numerous modulations; then, after the Neighbour has left, G, together with the dominant of.its dominant (A), is used to process the music with renewed impetus to Bb minor (figs.94-97 -cf. the

earlier approaches' to Bb minor) and .the fiery duet for the tv!o lovers who are left'by- themselves for the first time since the beginning of

the opéra.

It is in this duet, free of the tonal 'restreint' characteristic of earlier numbers, ■that, as Collaer remarks, G,fulfils.its centri- , 1 3 fugal rôle in the raost'active way. It appears, for instance, to guide the music from-B minor to C major (Ex.4-I8f) - C major being the

expected key of the lengthy waltz section that concludes the duet.

The waltz, hov/ever, avoids that tonality, despite the- suggestive presence of the dominant'and tonie chords (implied or explicit) in


the accompaniment and vocal line, v/here the note G has a substantiel rôle (Ex.4.18g); oiily some sixty-six bars'làter.'is the expected desti­

nation attainèd'(Ex.418h - in the preparatory cadence bars, it may be noted, G is virtually absent). Ail through this passage, then, G, as a forceful, dominating (and dominant) agent has been hovering, and its omission at the.'apotheosis'.makes its significance felt ail the more keenly.

Ih the long aria for the Cook/Hussar that follows, Bb minor pre- vails, and only in the Coda (beginning at fig.l63) does Stravinsky atterapt to retrieve the polar attraction of G. Kere, as the 3-d of Eb major, the key in v;hich the opéra began (after the initial three

bars) and vmich is immovable in.these final forty-nine bars, the presence of G is more discreet, less d5maraic. Nevertheless, that G is and has been the axis around v/hich Mavra revolved is confirmed in the anguished cries of Parasha as she calls after her disappearing hussar with octave leaps on G, in the chords,that oscillate around that note, and, in the last four bars, where the orchestral chords, supported by syncopated rhythms, climb towards G in a higher register and finally corne to rest on a first inversion of an Eb.major chord with G at the top and bottom of that chord (Ex. 418i).

If G has been the pôle of attraction throughout the opéra, Eb major may be seen as an outer pillar .of the tonal framework within which the tonal organization of the-work is confined, for though it oc.curs relatively infrequently, it does so at important structural points (the Overture, the Coda, and, in the forra of its tonie minor, in the Kussar's ' Gipsy’ aria. towards the. end of the opéra). It is also strongly related to a much more fundamental key to the work, Bb minor, a key which is the^basis of Parasha's first aria, prominent in certain sections of the second love-duet (Ex.4T9a.) , and the

harmonie foundation of the earlier parts of the Cook's aria (Ex.419b) Taken as awhoie, therefore, it would appear that.the essence of Stravinsky's■tonal plan for Mavra is characteristically simple - a straightfoi"ward triadic base of Eb - G - Bb (closing in Eb) wit'n G


serving as a unit of control and articulation - the pôle of attraction - throughout.

Mavra is a. v/ork rich in modulation, however, and there are many flights from this tonal anchor of Eb-G-Bb. The Hussar’s firs't aria, for instance, immediately moves the music away from this frame of

reference into B minor, an area which, by comparison v/ith the Bb minor of the preceding (Parasha's) aria, glitters; but it also serves a

structural function, forming the tonal édifice (thè central.épisode) of the first:'dràmatic progression in the opéra:

,Aria - Aria - Duet. . - . ' Aria (reprise) (Parasha) (Hussar) (final section) (Parasha)


Bb minor - B minor via G minor axis - Bb minor

B minor also serves a transitory function to establish the Mcther's presence. Here (fig.28), as with the modified reappearance of this music for her second entrance (fig.134), it may be noted, along with

the unexpected intrusion of B minor into the tonal progression (Bb minor - the reprise of Parasha’s aria - and P minor - the biother's aria), occurs an example of Stravinsky's chromatic writing which

includes his ’trademark' of fluctuating major and minor 3rds (Sx. ♦20) In both of these B minor passages (for the Hussar and for the Mother) the actual process of modulation, from Bb minor to B minor, is very abrupt, the nev/ key merely displacing ' the old without any form of

transition (Ex.42ta), a factor which will be taken up again in the discussion of Stravinsky's treatment of the cadence in Mavra.

The characteristic heavy tread of the bass line throughout the score,- of course, provides a strong rhythmic and harmonie foundation that clearly define.s the tonal areas : in Mavra - includihg those of the majority of. modulations ; and in this, together with the fact that the fugitive tonalities are confined largely to related key areas within the Eb-G-Bb framework, yet another association with the historical awareness that govems the musical language of the work is suggested. But unlike classical modulation procedures, v/hich


involved more broadly evolved changes of key, Stravinsky, with a minimum of procedure, thrusts a new key upon the music far more • abruptly, often, after only two or three bars (or even fewer) of the earlier tonality hâve been established. The modulations to E minor mentioned above offer but two examples of a practice'.that abounds in this score: in the central section of Parasha's first aria, for instance, the change of key from G minor to D minor is effected under the guise of a ’classical’ pivotai note; the change, however, does not hâve thesmooth effect of the traditional pro­

cedure, the modulation being established by two F's - the first, the 7th of G minor, the second (made évident by strong accentuation), the 3rd of D minor, the new key (Ex,^2Tb). A more protracted instance of the same procedure occurs in the fantasy-like love-duet where, for exemple, between figs.102 and 105 the classical chain of fifths principle opérâtes at lightning speed; beginning on E (with both major and minor 3rd), the music moves through A minor to D major (fig.103), at v/hich point the pace of modulation accelerates to includa. a change of tonal area every bar: (fig.103) D major - G major - C minor - F major - (fig.104-) Bb major - then, via the domi­

nant of C to C minor - F minor - V of C - (fig.105) G^f".minor - ail within the space of ten bars, Thus, though this seemingly effortless flow of. modulations follov/s classical principles, once the goal of a new tonal area has been attained, Stravinsky cuts into.it sharply • (no transitions, sequences, etc,,) with another, and to'gether with the marching tread of the bass line, the suspensions and retardations, the off-beat, 'sf-p' chords in the upper instruments,, and the con- trasting flow of the vocal Unes, maximum tension or, in Collaer's words, "optimum voltage," is created. A similar effect is évident 14 at the end of this duet - the wal.tz section (fig.125): the five bars

that preceed the waltz suggest that C major or minor would be the expected tonality for that section, and.once the waltz begins, in fact, the accompaniment in horns and lower stringS'reinforce' that expectation ('Ex.^lSg); in effect, hov/ever, the profusion of appog- giaturas, anticipations, retardations, and the changes in har.monic function of the chords only hint at the chord of resolution and StravinsKy plunges his v/altz -through a variety. of tonal areas.


ayoiding the antielpa-ted destination with blunt modulations until, after teo reprises and over sixty bars of "optimum voltage»" G major is finally reached (Ex.418h), but then, only for three bars,

Closely associated with this practice is the rôle of the cadence in Mavr.a. nnd once again» in both final and interior cadences, Stra- vlnsky modifies conventional treatment, that is to say, the highly regulated, stereotyped formulae of pi^dictable, evèn Inévitable resolution. Thus in Mavra, final, definitively conclusive cadences are rare - even the Overture and the Coda, for instance, both con- elude with first inversions - ïrtiilst other final cadences are weakened through élision orr by combination with a modulation into

the next section, and some, indeed, are omitted entirely.

It is, however, to the interior cadences of a nimber that the most Creative attention is glven, The lack ef cadencé or transition betwcen FaxBSha’s aria and the Hussar*s 'Gipsy' song has already been neted - there, the accompaniment patterns are merely eut short at the beginning of the next number (Ex.42.ta>, That next number (the Hussar's song), in faot, is an interesting example not only of Stravinsky’s cadénee procedure but also ofhis approach to phrase structure (Ex.




): the ethnie prototypes of thie gipsy song charaeteristioally rely on a balanced, symmetrioal phrase structure, but in this example, though both segments are of four bars, Stravinsky disturbs that outer synanétry by his characteristic riaythmic (and metrlcal) procedures of stretching and foireshortening interior mélodie and oadential éléments (the varied antécédents and conséquents of the two phrases in the example are indicated by the bracketed letters a and b).

Of a more dramatic character are the cadences that disintegrate harmonically, as, for instance, vhen Parasha is troubled by the soimd of her lover’s voice (figs.7-8), and in the cadential bars to this épisode, while her vocal line moves directly to a half-close in B minor the accompaniment takes on accidentais and proceeds along a more circuitous route, only to be 'rudely* eut off, when the voice

ends its phrase, on a seemingly incongruous tonie/subdorainant chord


- this chord, as indeed the whole passage illustrated .in;,Ex.;:.423,, exemplifies typically Stravinskyan simultaneity, here, the super­

imposition of 'traditional' harmonie and cadential formulas.

On other occasions both voice and instruments shift to a new tonal level and accompaniment patterns before the phrase ends. In.

the duet between Neighbour and ivlother, for example, as the Neighbour describes the excellent qualities of a prospective^ new aervant.for the household (figs.60-62), an interior, cadence occurs which opposes G major and D major chords and then, as she expresses her one objec­

tion - "but she would be too expensive" - both voice and- accompani­

ment (without any break in the music) immediately plunge into Cf minor (particularly évident in the 'vamp' accompaniment). and close with a cadence that superimposes I and. V harmonies in B minor - the Neighbour's objection obviously being reflected in the music's

'objection' and abrupt change of tonal area (Ex.424a- where the tv/o cadences are asterisked).

Stravinsky leads into the first trio (fig.68) in a similar way.

The preceding duet concludes with a cadence in G minor in the vocal line whilst the instruments, without finishing their previous material, hâve abruptly transferred to C major and a more metrically stable

vamp, pattern - the characteristics of the approaching trie section.

A change of mode and tempo (fig.68) complétés the' transition (Ex.4241)).

Instrumental sections of any length being rare in this work, cadences in these circumstances are usually confined to two- or

three-bar fragments which comment on the previous musical or dramatic event. One such fragment sweeps av;ay in a mere three beats a complété phrase sung by the Hussar in the first love-duet (Ex,4&5) - though

the final, resolvent unisoh of this passage is not particularly strong' in cadential terms, it does, at least, présent' more stability than the previous bars v/here, precarious and. indecisive, voice and instruments seem to side-step ■ each other ( rhythmically,. harmioni- cally and cadentially), the entire vocal line being easily swept up, forgotten aimost, by the short instrumental fragments in ascending


semiquaver motion.

This same passage (Ex.425) illustrâtes two other aspects of the harmonie/tonal lânguage of Mavra. The first, still related to the function of the cadence, concerns the introduction of a change of métré to point-up, or highlight a cadential position or, Just as frequently, a dominant pedal - in this case, the interpolated bar of O does both; the ènsuing dominant pedal here, incidentally, evokes1 O -

another instance of Stravinsky's ’historical awareness' in this score, for, rather like the traditional dominant préparation culminating on a ^ tonie chord which then leads to a cadenza or, at least, a musical flourish, this dominant pedal similarly leads, via two, rather unex- pected bars of B minor, to a * cadenza' for the tv/o vocal soloists - a cadenza, moreover, in which the, unaccompânied vocal Unes, progress from G major to the G minor of the next section of the lové-duet in

'classical' 3rds and 6ths,. (figs.21-22). The final stage of the Quartet (beginning at fig.87), it may be noted, is approached in a

similar way - by a heightening of the rhythmic tension, including the interpolation of a ^ bar amidst the prevailing duple métré, and 3 by a sustained dominant pedal of Bb (in the tv/o bars preceding fig.


■ The .second, additionai aspect illustrated in Ex.425 is one v/hich characterizes ail éléments of the musical language of Mavra - the

défiance of expectation, or digression from the norm v/hich, as already observed, is closely linked to the spirit of burlesque■and parody (of musical and literary conventions) that pervades this work. Thus, at fig.18 the mélodie line clearly süggests and, three bars later, real- izes D major; but the effect of that tonality is immediately defied when, in the next bars, flûte and trumpet capriciously interpose a cadence in G - the sparseness and the contrasting timbres of the instrumentation enhance this 'digression'. Sarlier in the- same aria

■is' the equally unexpected harmonie treatment of a conventional cadence melody (Ex. 426): here, considering the active harmonie approach to

this passage, a full' harraonization would be more 'normal'; instead, the' accompaniment suddenly stops and leaves the voice unsupported but


for a brief chromatic figure follov/ed by a sustained in bass trombone. And v/hen it cornes to the more passionate melody of the Hussar's last aria (fig.140), Stravinsky not only. employs unexpect-

edly subdued scoring for low trumpet, but tiie accompanying harmonies are uninspired répétitions of low, dry ('secco') Bb minor chords which, when the Hussar begins to' sing, change one note and become low, dry and répétitive chords of Gb minor (fig.142). It is not'.ohly the music of the Hussar, of course, which receives such 'unexpected' harmonic/tonal treatment, and as a final example of this practice Parasha's first aria may be cited (Ex.427): here, the harmonie

implications of the bass line and the actual harmonies are quite irreconcilable, the I and V harmonies suggested in the four-beat bass ostinato being out of step v/ith the I-V-V and I-'V-I chords of the three-beat ostinato in the upper parts., . ,

Mavra, with its rich content of melody,, displays considérable, if somewhat (typically Stravinskyan) elementary, contrapuntal inter­

est. Most frequently it 'is the voice which has primacy in such

passages, the orchestra tending to follow with lines of contrapuntal . imitation, as, for.instance, where the Mother, lamenting the dead cook Phioclusha, leads the woodwind in a brief fugato (Ex.428), or where, in the Neighbour's aria, the vocal line leads oboe, clarinet and bass trombone in a two-part canon (fig.60 on).

The most extended passages of counterpoint occur in the Quartet and ensuing Trio, and here, too, the factor of digression from the expected has a rôle to play. After the extended polyphonie interplay that characterize'd both the vocal and instrumental parts of the quartet, for instance, the, accompaniment to the Bach-like polyphony of the vocal lines and the long ascent and descent of the bassoon line of the trio is éntrusted to a ’cello and bass ostinatO' of ma.jor and minor 3rd dyads (G-3 and A-C), announced squarely on first and third beats of the bar, which has no organic relationship v/ith either the vocal, counterpoint or the linear conception of the bassoon line.

Equally incongruous is the sudden, and quite unexpected cessation of ail of this activity as Parasha, Neighbour and Ivîother turn to look at


Mavra, and, totally unaccompanied, ail three voices exclaim: "She's a lovely girl!"; dramatically, of course, this 'naked' moment allov/s

■the irony of the comment - for "she" refers to the hussar - to be absorbed, an irony v/hich is enhanced still further by the sparsity of notes for this perfect cadence - only two notes to each chord - which is then completed by a resounding, and 'surprising', full chord of G, 'sf, in the orchestra, (Sx.

As many of the foregoing examples hâve illustrated, the ostinato (a constant feature of Stravinsky's musical vocabulary in ail of his Creative periods) has played a significant harmonie and tonal struc­

tural rôle in Mavra; it has also made a significant contribution to the rôle of the ’unexpected’ in this opéra. In the Coda-, however, the ostinato' itself is subject to unconventional treatment, for here, amidst ail the dramatic excitement - at finding the Cook shaving, the îïiother faints, the Neighbour does not know whether to help revive the Mother or attempt to catch the 'thief' (fig.170), neither, but for different reasons, does Parasha, whilst the Cook/Vasili himself décidés to escape the conséquences and leap out of the window - the usual expectation is that the music vvould complément the agitation and build to a compelling climax; instead, ail that is heard in the orchestra is a heavy, unchanging alternation of tv/o chords (I and

■in Eb), ' sem.pre rap e staccato', in trombones and tuba, and an equally unvaried and insistent, syncopated ’ragtime' figure in the horns

('mf et staccato jusqu'à la - fin); there is, then, no expected, com­

pelling climax, indeed, in thè penultimate bar, Stravinsky simply stops ail motion for one beat and then closes the opéra v/ith an 'inconclusive' chord in. the v/oodwind - a first inversion of Eb major - an effect that has been compared to Pushkin's ■ ' sv/itching-off ' his poem: 15

If Parasha blushed or not, I cannot tell you...

Who :took Mavra's place? I confess,

I' don't know and l'm in a hurry to finish.

An anecdote recounted by Wellesz in his Essays orr Opéra provides


he was standing in front of the theatre with a small group of musi- cians vvhen one of thera "as liberated from a great burden," said, "3o now we can write common chords again." îo this, v/e raay add that 1 6

though the chords used were "common", they (along v/ith ail the other musical éléments) were also used unconventionally.


Por the first time in a v/ork belonging to the genre of opéra, Stravinsky expands his mélodie horizons beyond the shapes and forms characteristic of the Russian folk raelos that prevailed in-The Night­

ingale, Renard and The Soldier’s Taie,. Thus fundamental to the lyrical content of Mavra, in which the mélodie material is predominantly

vocal, are four different sources or.types; i. Russian, ii. Italian, iii. Bohemian gipsy-like, and iv. a Chromatic type -which, V/hite

remarks, is reminiscent of the 1918 Ragtime, and which Collaer, more loosely, refersto as American in influence, 17

i. The Russian element

As with the maiority of ’Russian' mélodies found in Stravinsky's post-Rite compositions, the Russian mélodie element in Mavra is not

to be found in a deliberate use of actual folk material but in a mélodie line that results from his innate, unconscious. sense of

Russian folk song. The motive from the Overture illustrated in Ex.

4'36âi for instance, is typical of the Russian melos - brief, of limited compass, and v/hose outline is prone to several ■ répétitions.

Though this melody was composed by Stravinsky, it does, nevertheless, seem to hâve an 'unconscious' relationship -to- the' Russia'n pop'ular song 'Kalinka' (Ex.430b); indeed, it also has aff inities, v/ith the


'Westemized* Russian works of the two composers to whom Mavra is dedicated, Glinka and Tchaikovsky (Ex.4-30c).

Similarly, Parasha's aria (Ex.431s) has many of the features of a Russian folk song - tonie and dominant pôles of attraction (Bb and P), a minor. mode that uses both the natural and raised 6th of the scale, a flexible métré, and varied répétition of phrases, or frag­

ments of phrases, v/ith their consistent sinking to a cadence -

features v/hich give the impression of iraprovised variations so typical of . such songs; indeed, a real-life, . 19th-century Parasha, whilst . . sitting at the'window, embroidering, may v/ell hâve improvised such a .song. Once again, Stravinsky's melody would seem to hâve a prototype,

for although plagiarism is not suggested, it does bear.a certain resemblance to the folk song illustrated in Ex.431b (from Rimsky- Korsakov's collection), and even Ludmilla's aria from Glinka’s opéra Ruslan and Ludmilla (Ex •431c) or Antonida's Cavatina in his A Life for

the Tsar (sx.431d ).. The accompaniment to this melody is particularly interesting from the point of view of the concept of parody in this opéra: as Ex.427'illustrâtes, beneath the metrical' irreguiarities of the ’folk song' is a basically simple accompaniment consisting of a four-beat ostinato pattern in the bass that raoves in a regular ^ métré4

■and implies tonie and dominant harmonies; the off-beat chords,above, hov/ever, though still tonie and dominant (or V ), are grouped in two patterns belcnging to a ^ métré; tnus the tonie and dominant harmonies 3 of the upper voices do not coincide v/ith their tonie and dominant roots in'the bass. This harmonie lack of alignment compléments the overall feeling that the flexible rhythm of the folk melody is being forced into a metrically regular accompaniment of the European,

'conventicnal' type. Stravinsky,.then, is.providing a burlesque of the conventicnal 19th-eentury treatment of folk music v/here the flexi- bilitjr of folksong, in order tO' be appreciated by the miusic-loving society of' that period, would be subjected to the regularities of its musical conventions.


ii. The Italian element

The spirit of 'bel canto' and the. Keapolitan mélodie idioms v/hich Stravinsky had first assimilated in his earlien ballet Pulei- nella are here transierred to opéra buffa. A particularly fine

example occurs after the Î.Iother, wishing to change her cio thés, leaves Parasha and the nevv ’cook' Havra to discuss doraestic chores.

Parasha and liavra, of- course, are lovers, and for their duet (fig.97), Stravinsky re-creates an Italian-style love duet - with long phrases measured by breathing, gushing and ornate vocal Unes v/ith sensuous chromatic movement, 'classical' parallel 3i‘ds and 6ths (for example, figs.iOS and 131), sudden 'rallentandos' and 'ritardandos', etc., and, as the lovers rejoice in the union of their bvo hearts, an appropri- ately blissful v/altz (fig.125). Both the lovers' contentment and the conventions of the v/altz are burlesqued, however, vvhen the regular waltz accompaniment in horns and strings is pitted against the duplets in the vocal Unes as ?/ell as the harmonies in that accompaniment, for whereas, classically, they '.vould usually hâve a clear tonal foun- dation, here, the chords formed on the weak beats are improbably

dissonant, (Èx.432a), a stridency not restricted to this section alone, of course (Ex. 432b); a possible musico-dramatic interprétation of such dissonance is that the orchestra (along v/ith the audience) does not give- to.o much credibility to îïiavra's avov;al of fidelity and, accordingly, mocks his v/ords.

The final section of the lovers' first duet (figs.22-25) exhibits similar Italian traits, v/hilst the Cook's aria, towards the end of the opéra (fig.140), présents another form of Italianism. Here, Stravinsky followed the popular convention of early Italian opéra

(Bellini, Donizetti, Verdi) when he introduced the scene with a short trumpet 'cavatina' which préparés for the ensuing vocal line.

iii. The Gipsy element

This is the property, of the Hussar's arias v/hich involve the abrmipt contrasts, short or long note values, v/ell-scanned phrases


strongly accented and with brief, final falls on the dominant so characteristic of Bo’nemian folk songs (Ex. 433)* The most substantial contribution of the Kussar/Cook to this mélodie type is his final aria, v/here the melody, although intredueed in the form of an

’ltalian' cavatina, brings to mind, in fact, Liszt's sixth Hungarian Rhaosody (cf. Exs.434a and b). At first, however, Stravinsky mocks the 'gipsy passion' of its prototype in a subdued, 'tranquille' intro­

duction in v/hich the melody is scored for trumpet in its low register whilst bassoons, timpani, 'celles and basses hâve an equally sombre and dry répétition of the tonie and dominant notes of Bb minor. But

the fire and energy of the 'gipsy' element is rekindled as Mavra warms to his song and the orchestra, .echoing the mood of the singer, accom- panies with jaunty dotted rhythms (Ex.434c), gushing arpeggi (Ex.434d) and sentimental phrases in parallel 3rds and 6ths (Ex.434e) or octaves

(Ex.455d ) that complément .the phrases and thoughts of Mavra.

iv. The Chromatic element

The chromaticism in Mavra is principally of harmonie dérivation - the sudden change of tonality that occurs when the Mother enters (fig.28),- for instance, is accompanied by 'ambiguous' minor and major 3rds in both the vocal line and the orchestral parts (Ex. 420). Triere are, hov/ever, occasions v/hen the chromaticism is melodically motivated In the Coda, for instance, the homs hâve a short, ascending chromatic fragment of melody which, in various transpositions, and occasionally in rétrogradé form (and in typically Russian/Stravinskyan fashion), is repeated overand over again. This same motive also contains a prominent use of the 'American', 'ragtime' influence - in effect, syncopation - in the mélodie idiom of this score. Ex.418t illustrâtes both the chromatic and syncopated éléments of this motive as it occurs at the end of the opéra v/here, for the first time, the motive is also heard in the v/oodwind, that is, in an instrumental setting other than horns.

■ Though the foregoing exemples may indicate that each number in Mavra has its ovvn particular source of melody, this, in fact, is not


always the case, for the various style-elenents. are frequently amalgamated, A blend of tue Russian, and the Italien, for instance, is especially noticeable in the Mother's'aria of lament for the dead cook Phioclusha; here, the three divisions of the aria's ternary fom correspond to the .sources used: (fig.34) Italien - flowing, expansive lines. in a regular g métré; (fig.37) Russian - varied répétition of mélodie patterns of a relatively limited pitch range in a flexible metrical scheme; (fig.40) - a récapitulation of the first, 'Italian'

section. And in the Cook's aria (fig.142), ail four, styles are mixed and resuit in an aria that, in the words of Collaer, is "bordering on mélodie fantasy." Indeed, "fantasy" would appear to be an aot 18 Word for the mélodie content of several of the numbers in havra -

in the earlier love-duet, for instance, there is even an évocation of Schubert's Fantasia in F minor (D.940) for.piano duet (cf. Exs.

435a and b). A.s before, no plagiarism is suggested by this observa­

tion, indeed, in the context of the 'historical av/areness' of this score, especially that awareness of the mélodie tendencies of old Russo-Italian opéra, the characteristic feature of Schubert's melody - an appoggiatura that rises before falling - is one that v/as a characteristic of early 19th-century practices in general and of the Russian 'romance-sentimentale' in particular, and it is more likely that it was sucha practice that Stravinsky was evoking or remembering when he composed this passage. (In a musico-dramatic context, it may be noted, if one perçoives Vasili as a libertine rather than as a sincere lover, this 'Schubertian évocation' représenta an interesting example of- the humour in Stravinsky's music, for the melody is set to the words,' "And I repeated the name I dreamed in restless sleep," and one wonders if Vasili was not, perhaps, hearing the name of someone other than Parasha).

The mélodie idiom of.Mavra .being primarily vocal in inspiration does not necessarily imply thet in his treatment of the text of this work Stravinsky adopted a different approach from' that manifested in, for example. Renard. Indeed, commenting on■the relationship of the original lahguage of the Russian text to the mélodies, Boris de Schloezer observes that in "chopping the words, making the singers


repeat certain words, drawing them out, indifferent to the sense of the verbal phrase, and even I might say to the draniatic situation,"

Stravinsky created a vocal style which "is not trying to make the verbal text intelligible, but merely to develop the mélodie phrase,

to construct a well-balanced period, well-balanced, that is, as musical, not as poetic lyricism." The English translation of the 19

text, it may be added, raanifests the same 'alienation’ of word and music in favour of the primacy of the latter. In the last aria of

the Work, for instance, the very first wôrd of the Cook - "alone" - is subject to this "chopping," "répétition," drav/ing out," and

"indifférence" (Ex.434-'a), as, shortly aftenvards, is the phrase (Ex.436')

"Slumbering, careless sleeps the house," especially évident in the unconventional accentuation, of. tne last two syllables of "slumbering,"

the unnatural stress on "the", and the incongruity.of the musical cadence with the sense of the words; an even more 'instrumentally' inspired vocal line (even .though•it is the vocal line that is imi- tated in the instrumental accompaniment) is illustrated in Ex.434f where, it may be noted, the 'ss* of "kiss" (cf. the 'ing' of "slumber­

ing") is given a verbally unnatural treatment with its stress on a weak, and very brief, semiquaver beat - a typically instrumental

articulation. •

Such 'objectivity' (which is comraon to the treatment of the text throughout Mavra) is but one aspect of that goveming factor of

Stravinsky'.s aesthetic and musical language - a musical, as opposed to extra-musical, control; the strictly notatsd rubatos and.the pré­

cisé indications■of the dynamics and articulation in this number are yet other testaments to this. Moreover, despite ail the ’fantasy’

.éléments in this number, there is no impression of.disparity, on the contrary, their richness and their flexibility are moulded into a reassuring musical unity, a factor as true of this aria as it is of ail the mélodie material in Mavra,



Modelled as it is on the traditions of old Russo-Italian opéra, iviavra. to a great extent, relies upon the regular métrés of that

style - of which the clearly marked strong beats and .accents of the 'vamp-like' accompaniment that prevails in this v/ork ;(see the exam­

ination of Mavra ' s orchestration) is but one fe.ature. But if the restless changes of time -signature that so strongly characterized The Rite or The Soldier’s Taie are mostly absent in Mavra. the. . rhythmic subtleties found in those earlier compositions are not.

Indeed, rhythmically, Mavra has much in common v/ith those earlier Works, especially The Soldier's Taie. In the Overture, for.example, is a passage which has a close analogy, both rhythmically and instru- mentally, with the. opening 'Soldier's March' of The Soldier's Taie,

for accompanying the second theme of the Overture is a similarly dis- Jointed relationship between rhythm and métré •- the regular marching rhythm in 'celles and basses sometimes agréés with the binary rhythm of the theme and sometimes opposes it (Ex.4'18b). That a compromise with the more traditional, set métrés and rhythms of the Russo-Italian style exists in this work becoraes quickl;/ évident when, immediately after this 'vicarious' section, occurs a rhythmically regular (though harmonically irregular) passage (Ex.437). The Overture, then, gives an early indication of the dual rhythmic nature,- the 'perverse' and the 'traditional' - that vyill operate throughout ■ Mavra.

The first aria of Mavra is of the 'perverse' rhythmical type.

Here, the mélodie line has a different time signature in almost every bar and moves over two ostinato patterns of conflicting metrical

design: the first (in the bass instruments - 4th hom, tuba, 'celles and basses) is in ^ and the first beats of .v/hich, in any of its seven appearances, never coinoide with the first beats of the melody; the second (in homs I, II and III) is in ^, the harmonies of which, as remarked earlier, are always out of step with their 'roots' in the bass ostinato pattern (Ex. 427); and in the ensuing G minor and D minor sections of this aria (figs.3-4. and 4-5, respectively), though


the harmonies of the ostinati and the pitch content of the mélodie line are modifie! in accord with the key changes,, the same process opérâtes (as it does also in the modifie! reprise of the first section in Bb minor which begins at fig,5).' Collaer makes the interesting comment that whilst working, young, Russian country girls v/ould impro­

vise songs whose mélodie invention would follow their brea.thing which, as a resuit of the mbvements of their wprk, >r/ould ;be irre^làr, This 20 ingenuous quality of improvisation is cleverly rendered in the character ofParasha’s song where, apart from the last nine bars (an exact reprise of the first section), there:,are fev/ bars thax possess the sarne rhÿthm.

The temary aria of the Mother (beginning fig.34) represents another type of, subtle rhythmic construction. The first section (figs.

34-37) is in ^ (Andante, J*s88) and displays a small, . secondary temary O

construction of its own in which the melody of the first part is accompanied by brass chords on the third and sixth quavers of each bar; the second part (beginning at fig.35), on the other hand, has a more fluid, contrapuntal accompaniment for woodv/ind - already, a dual contrast - in which syncopation in the clarinets and bassoons produces an intricate rhythmic complex (Ex.438a) and an effect not unlike the steady march of the crotchets against conflicting rhythmic patterns in the Overture (letters C-D), though the constant changes of métré are absent.hsre; a short,■ sequential bridge passage,, in which the accompaniment patterns of the first sub-section recur. (and in v/hich Stravinsky's 'indifférence' to the text is clearly évident in the sequential, répétitions), leads to a very much abbreviated reprise

(merely a 'reminder', in effect) of the first part (Ex.438a). Through- out the v/hole of this first Section (of the larger temary construc­

tion) the melody has been rhythmically and metricaily regular; the second main section (Allegretto,


s 132 - figs.37-40), reverses the procedure: a melody of supple rhythmic structure is double! in tne upper strings v/hilst the remainder of the orchestral accompani­

ment raaintains a steady crotchet puise provided by vamped 'oompah' harmonies of superimpos.ed. chords (Ex.438b); as in Parasha's aria, however, frequent métré changes mean that there is no consistent strong or weak beat in the structure of this accompaniment. Instru-


mentally, too, this second section contrasts with the two outer ones, for ail familles of the orchestra are represented here, and the

décorative flourishes from oboes, piccolo clarinet and first flûte provide yet another form of contrast v/ith the pockets of brass or woodwind sound of the first and third sections, V/ith the récapitula­

tion of the first main section (fig.40), although the harmonies and.

the contrapuntal writing remain unaltered (one slight variation occurs in the clarinet line - cf. 2 bars before fig.41 and 1 bar before fig.

35), there is considérable change otherwise, the change resulting

from rhythmic and mélodie variations: the opening phrase 'of the melody, às, indeed, the whole of this first part of the' subsidiary ternary form, is, condensed, thus varying.the former accentuation of the vocal line, and the chordal accompaniment now appears on the second and, fifth quavers of the bar, that is, one quaver earlier than previously

(though the off-beat effect is still the same); the second sub-section and bridge passage receive only minor (mélodie) adjustments; but the former abbreviated reprise of the first part is cmitted entirely and the number ends, rather abruptly, and moves directly into a one-bar introduction to the appearance of the Neighbour.on the scene,

The accompaniment patterns in this aria illustrate, more clearly than anyv/here else in the opéra perhaps, a feature that is common to the whole work, namely, that once the pattern is established at the beginning of a,number, or section of a. number, It continues, rigiàly, straddling bar Unes, accentuating weak mélodie beats, and quite indépendant of any harmonie relationship (in this, of course, these patterns, though too varied, or'insufficiently répétitive, to be labelled ostinati, function, nevertheless, much in the same way as ostinati - a constant feature in ail of Stravinsky's compositions).

Of the numerous other occasions when this principle opérâtes in Mavra.

the duet between Mother and Neighbour offers several instances of v/hich Ex. 439 is but one - here, it may be noted, the pattern fiunctions as a pedal, but in what harmonie or tonal relationship to the melody is difficult to assess since the 'pedal' présents altemate tonie and dominant chords in v/hat 'feels like' Eb major whilst the melody pro- ceeds more according .to the dictâtes of G minor.


Two variants of the subtle rhythmic development examined in

earlier examples may be seen in Exs.432a.and UQ a. In Éhe.first, from the waltz section of the second love-duet, a traditional ^ wâltz

accorapaniraent is enlivened by a mélodie line that introduces supple duplets into its standard one-note-to-a-bar rhythm - the dissonant harmonies adding an extra degree of spice.In the second example, from the Quartet, the very regular vocal Unes (doubled in the upper strings) are set against heavily accented strong and weak beats in the other instruments; yet another variant of this example occurs a few bars earlier where pockets of syncopation provide additional interest (Ex.440b).

Of the. more Vtraditional' rhythmic type, the Kussar's first aria provides: an appropriate illustration. Here, the abrupt contrasts of

short and long notes, typical of the ’gipsy' genre, are contained ■ within a strong vamp accompaniment in duple métré (Ex. 441,). As the

song progresses, however, Stravinsky plays with the four-square rhythmic quality of the phrases by stretching the melody into occa-’

sional bars of „ or other métrés while retaining the steady, duple5 O

accompaniment, compounding the imbalance with cross relations and modulation (Ex. 422). nut the most traditional rhythmic,.and certainly metric, construction in Mavra is the duet betv/een Mother and Neighbour v/here, for the most part, both melody and accompaniment move in a steady the principal form of rnyth_mic variety being provided by syncopation.

Syncopation, the 'American', 'Ragtime', or 'Jazz' element in this score, is a particularly significant feature of the musical material of the Coda (where it is made. ail the more effective byan unvaried ostinato pattern in the lower brass instruments); it is a constant feature not only of the ascending and descending accompani­

ment patterns in the horns (most noticeable in the first horn), but it is also to be found in the occasional mélodie fragments of the vocal line (between figs.T64 and .168, for euample) and in the. brief figures played by instruments other than the (prevailing) horns (by

the bassoons at fig.l66, or by clarinets at fig.170, for example).





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