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Slavic masterpieces: Stravinsky & Dvorak

  • St Peters Church Kensington Park Road London, W11 2PN UK (map)
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Conductor Harry Ogg

Stravinsky The Firebird Suite
Dvorak Symphony No. 7


Come and join us for a wonderfully eclectic evening of Slavic folk dances! In this programme we have two major works from the symphonic canon which appear to contrast hugely yet have some striking similarities in their conception and situation.

Both were by Slavic composers writing for Western European institutions and might be considered "breakthrough" works for the two composers who subsequently went onto to be very international celebrities and furthermore, both composers took folk melodies from their home countries and expanded and elaborated on them to create their respective masterpieces. Premiered in London, the 7th Symphony's pastoral idealism and masculine candour can be heard in the later symphonies of Vaughan Williams and Elgar whilst the dazzling orchestral colour and dynamism of the Firebird (premiered in Paris) surely influenced the later works of Debussy and Ravel.

The Firebird Suite

The Firebird is a ballet by the Russian composer Igor Stravinsky, written for the 1910 Paris season of Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. The scenario is based on Russian fairy tales of the magical glowing bird that can be both a blessing and a curse to its owner. At the premiere on 25 June 1910 in Paris, the work was an instant success with both audience and critics.

The ballet has historic significance not only as Stravinsky's breakthrough piece, but also as the beginning of the collaboration between Diaghilev and Stravinsky that would also produce Petrushka, The Rite of Spring, Pulcinella and others.

Stravinsky is widely considered one of the most important and influential composers of the 20th century, and his compositional career was notable for its stylistic diversity. He first achieved international fame with three ballets commissioned by the impresario Sergei Diaghilev and first performed in Paris by Diaghilev's Ballets Russes: The Firebird (1910), Petrushka (1911) and The Rite of Spring (1913). The last of these transformed the way in which subsequent composers thought about rhythmic structure and was largely responsible for Stravinsky's enduring reputation as a musical revolutionary who pushed the boundaries of musical design. His "Russian phase" which continued with works such as Renard, The Soldier's Tale and Les Noces, was followed in the 1920s by a period in which he turned to neoclassical music. The works from this period tended to make use of traditional musical forms (concerto grosso, fugue and symphony), drawing on earlier styles, especially from the 18th century. In the 1950s, Stravinsky adopted serial procedures. His compositions of this period shared traits with examples of his earlier output: rhythmic energy, the construction of extended melodic ideas out of a few two- or three-note cells and clarity of form, and of instrumentation.

Harry Ogg

Harry Ogg

Our conductor for the evening is Harry Ogg, conductor, pianist, repetiteur and vocal coach based in London.

Find out more about Harry here

Earlier Event: February 6
Brahms Double, Sibelius 2
Later Event: June 18
C20 British Masterpieces