The surroundings of Igor Stravinsky during 1917-1918 and their influence on his composition, L'histoire du soldat
There are many reasons for performing a certain piece of music today. A piece might be chosen because there are the right number of people in the performing organization. For example, a chamber orchestra would not be able to perform a Mahler symphony with a great deal of credibility. A composition could be placed on a program because it is well suited to the taste of the community. While some communities may enjoy one thing, others will enjoy another. Another reason for choosing a piece would be due to the availability of outstanding musicians that could well perform the piece; there is little sense in performing "Scheherezade" without an excellent solo violinist.There were several reasons for choosing 'L'Histoire' as a piece to be played here at Ball State. Not only is it a piece that the community enjoys (May 12, 1982 marked the third performance in recent years) but there exist talented virtuosic musicians capable of performing this piece. For the first time this area has had a batterie of students of high enough calibre to perform. This assembling of musicians for the intent purpose of performing 'L'Histoire' was a great challenge to undertake. Like Stravinsky himself (whose first performance consisted of students), this endeavor was not without its problems ... and rewards.Performing this piece taught the ensemble (including the conductor) subtleties of chamber performance in a way that could have not been taught without the actual experience itself. With Stravinsky's "experimental" composing for a small group (7 to be exact), he must have encountered some of the same problems; balance, intonation, seating arrangements, and so forth. It is important when preparing and performing a piece to know as much as possible. Not only is an analysis of the score necessary (harmonic, melodic, rhythmic) but the reasons for composing in a certain manner provide great insight into a composition. This is why the author chose to study this aspect of the composition; there is a need to know more than the what, where and how, but also the why of a composition.The main reason for this paper to take an historical approach is for the listener. The greatest contribution the following study can make on any performance of 'L'Histoire' is, when condensed, it provides an excellent foundation for program notes. An audience has little hope of realizing the many hours of rehearsals, the stopping and starting, the fine tuning, the progress of ensemble and compatibility when listening to a performance. Most listeners have little knowledge of the time and thought that went into score preparation and individual practice; but the aspect a listener can appreciate and admire is the tangible assemblance of facts and influences that gave birth to a composition. This study is a possible foundation for advanced appreciation by the listener. Thus the historical approach: "The Surroundings of Igor Stravinsky During 1917-1918 and Their Influence on His Composition: 'L'Histoire du Soldat'."