Igor Stravinsky’s Jazz Sides

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Stravinsky felt that the jazz musicians would have a hard time with his various time signatures(Photo: Drawing by Pablo Picasso)
Stravinsky felt that the jazz musicians would have a hard time with his various time signatures(Photo: Drawing by Pablo Picasso)

Boyce Lancaster talks with Maestro Albert-George Schram, former staff conductor of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, about Igor Stravinsky‘s foray into jazz, the Ebony Concerto (1945) and Concerto in E-flat, a.k.a. Dumbarton Oaks (1937–38).

Stravinsky felt that the jazz musicians would have a hard time with the various time signatures.

[audio src="http://wosu.org/audio/classical/2006/EbonyConcerto.mp3"]

Highlights From This Interview:

Albert-George: “Stravinsky tried to write music that in many instances that was completely free of the bar line. Bar lines designate certain units, and it is usually quite regular, and on some level imparts a certain form. Composers, like Stravinsky, often wrote music that would strive to get away from those bar lines. The bar lines would still be there, but the feeling he that wanted his music to impart would be free of a certain regular pulse or meter.”

Albert-George: “So when the Ebony Concerto or Dumbarton Oaks, which is even more complex, is put in front of musicians, there are bar lines, but the number of meters and pulses and indications of tempo changes are so numerous and so complex, it’s very difficult to pull off, unless you are really a fine, fine musician.”

Albert-George: “But you would hear the piece, and say, ‘My gosh. This really grooves and this really feels good.’ Because both pieces do. They really have a groove. They dance. They jive. It’s just at the base of the jive, there’s this incredibly complex way of writing it.”

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