Winter 1988 • Vol. X No. 1 NonfictionJanuary 1, 1988 |

Toy Nightingales and Dancing Dolls: The Origins of Stravinsky’s Drama

What is Stravinsky's music about? There are several ways of answering that question. The critic can say that a piece by Stravinsky is about how rhythm governs the tension between certain melodic intervals. Stravinsky had no objection to this approach. But the critic always wants to say more, and then he gets into trouble. Music criticism, like the criticism of painting and of literature, consists of the struggle to remove an object from the world in which it takes place (the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, the Louvre, the shelf of my library) and to deposit it somewhere else. I might deposit a musical composition on a mathematical grid to study pitches and meters, or I might deposit it amid similar musical compositions to note its deviations from some theoretical norm. But if I feel tempted to deposit it outside, in the world of experience, and to relate its intelligible sounds to the birdcalls, whistles, thunders, automobile traffic, shouts, I have, according to Stravinsky, committed

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