Stravinsky - the Firebird Suite: an Analysis Essay

1380 Words Jun 1st, 2007 6 Pages
IGOR STRAVINSKY (1882-1871)

The Firebird Suite (1910; version from 1919)

Introduction - The Firebird and its Dance
Round of the Princesses (Khorovod)
Infernal Dance of King Kaschei
Berceuse
Finale

The first of Igor Stravinsky's three famous early ballets, The Firebird is the most traditional and derivative. While The Firebird, similar to Petrushka and The Rite Of Spring, is unquestionably one of Stravinsky's masterpieces, if considered strictly historically it can be, with some justice, viewed as warmed-over Rimsky-Korsakov (the device of contrasting a folkloristic, diatonic style representing human characters, with a highly chromatic style reserved for depicting the supernatural had its most conspicuous use in Rimsky's
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Although it was The Firebird ballet, first performed in Paris in 1910, that began his international career, and although the orchestral suite has remained his most popular work, he was still a little embarrassed by it years afterwards. The original "wastefully large" instrumentation he revised in 1919, when he wrote a second suite, and again in 1945, when he put together a third and longer orchestral suite. Such critical actions, he said, "are stronger than words."

The scenario for Firebird, as adapted by Fokine, follows an old Russian folk tale. The Tsarevitch, Prince Ivan, is hunting the elusive Firebird, and during the night he wanders into a magical garden (Introduction). As he walks through the garden he sees the Firebird, a beautiful bird with dazzling plumage (The Firebird and her Dance and Firebird Variation). Ivan captures the Firebird, but agrees to let her go free, after taking one of her feathers as a trophy. At sunrise, Ivan meets thirteen princesses, who have come into the garden to dance and play with golden apples from the garden's orchard (Round-Dance of the Princesses). Ivan learns that the garden belongs to the evil magician-king Kaschei, who has enchanted the princesses, and who has the ability to turn his enemies into stone. The prince, now in love with one of the princesses, vows to enter Kaschei's castle and free his beloved. As soon as he