Rethinking Igor Stravinsky Historically and Theoretically — II




creativity of composers Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Modest Mussorgsky, Alexandr Borodin, Igor Stravinsky, “Sadko”, “Dawn on the Moscow River”, “In the Steppes of Central Asia”, “Petrushka”, polymorphism


The article is a continuation of the author’s reflections on the phenomenon of musical polymorphism (the beginning is in Vol. 124, 2019). Stravinsky’s use of the environment, space, motion, dissonance, and Janus morphemes is considered as his inheritance from a tradition dating back to the work of his great predecessors. The musical tableau Sadko by Rimsky-Korsakov, the prelude Dawn on the Moscow River to Mussorgsky’s Khovanshchina, and Borodin’s symphonic poem In the Steppes of Central Asia are a clear confirmation of this. In Sadko Rimsky-Korsakov reveals himself as the founder of musical polymorphism, which is a historical alternative to the AustroGerman classical symphonism, Liszt’s monothematicism, and Wagner’s leitmotivism. RimskyKorsakov’s adherence to polymorphic methods of developing his musical material has clear roots in folklore. Those roots can also be traced just as clearly in Mussorgsky’s Dawn on the Moscow River. Mussorgsky’s masterpiece is stripped of all remplissage, all transitions, and contains only what is most essential and significant. And at the same time it has consistent polymorphism, penetrating into all levels of the musical fabric, and across-the-board variation in the melody, harmony and texture. The multi-element polymorphism of Dawn on the Moscow River forms the basis of the first tableau in Stravinsky’s Petrushka. The growing chaos of Shrovetide Fair is brought to life by means of textural condensation, a gradual transformation of the musical fabric from multi-elemental and polymorphic into sonorous and coloristic.

Author Biography

Valery Glivinsky

Senior Doctor of Art, musicologist, independent researcher


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Personal dimension of music history