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Stravinsky's Self-Concealment

  • Robin Holloway

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‘Subjugation’ in Stravinsky's works on religious texts is conventionally taken to mean such things as the refusal to attempt ‘expression’ of the ‘Et resurrexit’ in the Credo of the Mass, or the awesome denial of depiction of or comfort from Stephen's vision of ‘the heavens opened’ in A Sermon, a Narrative and a Prayer. Nevertheless even in this ostensibly most impersonal branch of all his impersonal output, a pattern can be discerned by which self-expression is pursued and achieved. Stravinsky said ‘“In the beginning was the word” is, for me, a literal, localized truth.’ I take him at his word, and examine his florilegia of religious texts in six major works, with just such a literal and localized intention.

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1 ‘I consider that music is, by its very nature, essentially powerless to express anything at all, whether a feeling, an attitude of mind, a psychological mood, or a phenomenon of nature …’ (Chronicles of my Life)

Stravinsky's Self-Concealment

  • Robin Holloway

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