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Title: An Autobiography
Author: Stravinsky, Igor
Language: English
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  [ Transcriber's Notes:

    Every effort has been made to replicate this text as faithfully
    as possible, including inconsistencies in spelling and hyphenation.
    Some corrections of spelling and punctuation have been made. They
    are listed at the end of the text.

    Italic text has been marked with _underscores_.

  Published by M. & J. Steuer, New York, 1958


  An Autobiography

  Copyright 1936 by Simon and Schuster, Inc.


The aim of this volume is to set down a few recollections connected with
various periods of my life. It is equally intended for those interested
in my music and in myself. Rather, therefore, than a biography it will
be a simple account of important events side by side with facts of minor
consequence: both, however, have a certain significance for me, and I
wish to relate them according to the dictates of my memory.

Naturally I shall not be able to keep within the bounds of bare
statement. As I call my recollections to mind, I shall necessarily be
obliged to speak of my opinions, my tastes, my preferences, and my

I am but too well aware of how much these feelings vary in the course of
time. This is why I shall take great care not to confuse my present
reactions with those experienced at other stages in my life.

There are still further reasons which induce me to write this book. In
numerous interviews I have given, my thoughts, my words, and even facts
have often been disfigured to the extent of becoming absolutely

I therefore undertake this task today in order to present to the reader
a true picture of myself, and to dissipate the accumulation of
misunderstandings that has gathered about both my work and my person.

ONE: Development of the Composer


As memory reaches back along the vista of the years, the increasing
distance adds to the difficulty of seeing clearly and choosing between
those incidents which make a deep impression and those which, though
perhaps more important in themselves, leave no trace, and in no way
influence one's development.

Thus, one of my earliest memories of sound will seem somewhat odd.

It was in the country, where my parents, like most people of their
class, spent the summer with their children. I can see it now. An
enormous peasant seated on the stump of a tree. The sharp resinous tang
of fresh-cut wood in my nostrils. The peasant simply clad in a short red
shirt. His bare legs covered with reddish hair, on his feet birch
sandals, on his head a mop of hair as thick and as red as his beard--not
a white hair, yet an old man.

He was dumb, but he had a way of clicking his tongue very noisily, and
the children were afraid of him. So was I. But curiosity used to triumph
over fear. The children would gather round him. Then, to amuse them, he
would begin to sing. This song was composed of two syllables, the only
ones he could pronounce. They were devoid of any meaning, but he made
them alternate with incredible dexterity in a very rapid tempo. He used
to accompany this clucking in the following way: pressing the palm of
his right hand under his left armpit, he would work his left arm with a
rapid movement, making it press on the right hand. From beneath the red
shirt he extracted a succession of sounds which were somewhat dubious
but very rhythmic, and which might be euphemistically described as
resounding kisses. This amused me beyond words, and at home I set myself
with zeal to imitate this music--so often and so successfully that I was
forbidden to indulge in such an indecent accompaniment. The two dull
syllables which alone remained thus lost all their attraction for me.

Another memory which often comes back is the singing of the women of the
neighboring village. There were a great many of them, and regularly
every evening they sang in unison on their way home after the day's
work. To this day I clearly remember the tune, and the way they sang it,
and how, when I used to sing it at home, imitating their manner, I was
complimented on the trueness of my ear. This praise made me very happy.

And it is an odd thing that this occurrence, trifling though it seems,
has a special significance for me, because it marks the dawn of my
consciousness of myself in the role of musician.

I will confine myself to those two impressions of summer, which was
always associated with a picture of the country, and of all the things
to be seen and heard there.

Winter was quite another story--town. My memories of that do not go so
far back as those of summer, and I date them from the time when I was
about three years old. Winter, with its curtailing of liberty and
amusements, with its rigorous discipline and interminable length, was
not likely to make enduring impressions.

My parents were not specially concerned with my musical development
until I was nine. It is true that there was music in the house, my
father being the leading bass singer of the Imperial Opera in St.
Petersburg, but I heard all this music only at a distance--from the
nursery to which my brothers and I were relegated.

When I was nine my parents gave me a piano mistress. I very quickly
learned to read music, and, as the result of reading, soon had a longing
to improvise, a pursuit to which I devoted myself, and which for a long
time was my favorite occupation. There cannot have been anything very
interesting in these improvisations, because I was frequently reproached
for wasting my time in that way instead of practicing properly, but I
was definitely of a different opinion, and the reproaches vexed me
considerably. Although today I understand and admit the need of this
discipline for a child of nine or ten, I must say that my constant work
at improvisation was not absolutely fruitless; for, on the one hand, it
contributed to my better knowledge of the piano, and, on the other, it
sowed the seed of musical ideas. Apropos of this, I should like to quote
a remark of Rimsky-Korsakov's that he made later on when I became his
pupil. I asked him whether I was right in always composing at the piano.
"Some compose at the piano," he replied, "and some without a piano. As
for you, you will compose at the piano." As a matter of fact, I do
compose at the piano and I do not regret it. I go further; I think it is
a thousand times better to compose in direct contact with the physical
medium of sound than to work in the abstract medium produced by one's

Apart from my improvisation and piano-practice, I found immense pleasure
in reading the opera scores of which my father's library consisted--all
the more so because I was able to read with great facility. My mother
also had that gift, and I must have inherited it from her. Imagine my
joy, therefore, when for the first time I was taken to the theatre where
they were giving an opera with which as a pianist I was already
familiar. It was _A Life for the Tsar_, and it was then I heard an
orchestra for the first time. And what an orchestra--Glinka's! The
impression was indelible, but it must not be supposed that this was due
solely to the fact that it was the first orchestra I ever heard. To this
day, not only Glinka's music in itself, but his orchestration as well,
remains a perfect monument of musical art--so intelligent is his balance
of tone, so distinguished and delicate his instrumentation; and by the
latter I mean his choice of instruments and his way of combining them. I
was indeed fortunate in happening on a _chef d'oeuvre_ for my first
contact with great music. That is why my attitude towards Glinka has
always been one of unbounded gratitude.

I remember having heard another lyrical work that same winter, but it
was by a composer of the second rank--Alexander Serov--and on that
occasion I was impressed only by the dramatic action. My father had the
leading part, a role in which he was particularly admired by the
Petersburg public. He was a very well-known artist in his day. He had a
beautiful voice and an amazing technique, acquired in studying by the
Italian method at the St. Petersburg Conservatoire, in addition to great
dramatic talent--a rare attribute among opera singers at that time.

About the same time I heard Glinka's second opera, _Ruslan and
Ludmilla_, at a gala performance given to celebrate its fiftieth
anniversary. My father took the part of Farlaf, which was one of the
best in his repertoire. It was a memorable evening for me. Besides the
excitement I felt at hearing this music that I already loved to
distraction, it was my good fortune to catch a glimpse in the foyer of
Peter Tchaikovsky, the idol of the Russian public, whom I had never seen
before and was never to see again. He had just conducted the first
audition of his new symphony--the _Pathetic_--in St. Petersburg. A
fortnight later my mother took me to a concert where the same symphony
was played in memory of its composer, who had been suddenly carried off
by cholera. Deeply though I was impressed by the unexpected death of the
great musician, I was far from realizing at the moment that this glimpse
of the living Tchaikovsky--fleeting though it was--would become one of
my most treasured memories. I shall have occasion later to tell my
readers more of Tchaikovsky, of his music, and of my struggles on its
behalf with some of my confreres, who obstinately persist in a heresy
which will not permit them to recognize as "authentic" Russian music
anything outside the work of the Five (_name given to a group composed
of Balakirev, Moussorgsky, Borodin, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Cui_).

At this point I am simply recording a personal memory of the celebrated
composer, for whom my admiration has continued to grow with the
development of my musical consciousness.

I think that the beginning of my conscious life as artist and musician
dates from this time.


I picture the first years of my adolescence as a series of irksome
duties and the perpetual frustration of all my desires and aspirations.
The constraint of the school to which I had just gone filled me with
aversion. I hated the classes and tasks, and I was but a very poor
pupil, my lack of industry giving rise to reproaches which only
increased my dislike for the school and its lessons. Nor did I find any
compensation for all this unpleasantness in those school friendships
which might have made things easier. During all my school life, I never
came across anyone who had any real attraction for me, something
essential being always absent. Was it my fault, or was it simply bad
luck? I cannot say; but the result was that I felt very lonely. Although
I was brought up with my younger brother, of whom I was very fond, I was
never able to open my heart to him, because, in the first place, my
aspirations were too vague to be formulated, and secondly, in my
innermost being I feared, notwithstanding our mutual affection, that
there would be misunderstandings which would have deeply wounded my

The only place where my budding ambition had any encouragement was in
the house of my uncle Ielatchitch, my mother's brother-in-law. Both he
and his children were fervent music lovers, with a general tendency to
champion very advanced work, or what was then considered to be such. My
uncle belonged to the class of society then predominating in St.
Petersburg, which was composed of well-to-do land-owners, officials of
the higher ranks, magistrates, barristers, and the like. They all prided
themselves on their liberalism, extolled progress, and considered it the
thing to profess so-called "advanced" opinions in politics, art, and all
branches of social life. The reader can easily see from this what their
mentality was like: a compulsory atheism, a somewhat bold affirmation of
"the Rights of Man," an attitude of opposition to "tyrannical"
government, the cult of materialistic science, and, at the same time,
admiration for Tolstoy and his amateur Christianizing. Special artistic
tastes went with this mentality, and it is easy to see what they looked
for and appreciated in music. Obviously naturalism was the order of the
day, pushed to the point of realistic expression and accompanied, as was
to be expected, by popular and nationalistic tendencies and admiration
for folklore. And it was on such grounds that these sincere music lovers
believed that they must justify their enthusiasm--quick and spontaneous
though it was--for works of a Moussorgsky!

It would, however, be unfair to imply that this set had no appreciation
of symphonic music; Brahms was admired, and a little later Bruckner was
discovered, and a special transcription of Wagner's tetralogy was played
as a pianoforte duet. Was it Glazounov, adopted son of the Five, with
his heavy German academic symphonies, or the lyrical symphonies of
Tchaikovsky, or the epic symphonies of Borodin, or the symphonic poems
of Rimsky-Korsakov, that imbued this group with its taste for
symphonism? Who can say? But, however that may be, all these ardently
devoted themselves to that type of music.

It was thanks to this environment that I got to know the great German
composers. As for the French moderns, they had not yet penetrated into
this circle, and it was only later that I had a chance to hear them.

In so far as school life permitted, I used to go to symphony concerts
and to recitals by famous Russian or foreign pianists, and in this way I
heard Josef Hofmann, whose serious, precise, and finished playing filled
me with such enthusiasm that I redoubled my zeal in studying the piano.
Among other celebrities who appeared in St. Petersburg at the time, I
remember Sophie Menter, Eugen d'Albert, Reisenauer, and such of our own
famous virtuosi as the pianist Annette Essipova, the wife of
Leschetitzky, and the violinist, Leopold Auer.

There were also great symphonic concerts given by two important
societies--the Imperial Musical Society and the Russian Symphony
Concerts--founded by Mitrophan Belaieff, that great patron and publisher
of music.

The concerts of the Imperial Society were often conducted by Napravnik,
whom I already knew through the Imperial Opera, of which he was for many
years the distinguished conductor. It seems to me that in spite of his
austere conservatism he was the type of conductor which even today I
prefer to all others. Certainty and unbending rigor in the exercise of
his art; complete contempt for all affectation and showy effects alike
in the presentation of the work and in gesticulation; not the slightest
concession to the public; and added to that, iron discipline, mastery of
the first order, an infallible ear and memory, and, as a result, perfect
clarity and objectivity in the rendering.... What better can one
imagine? Hans Richter, a much better-known and more celebrated
conductor, whom I heard a little later when he came to St. Petersburg to
conduct the Wagner operas, had the same qualities. He also belonged to
that rare type of conductor whose sole ambition is to penetrate the
spirit and the aim of the composer, and to submerge himself in the

I used to go also to the Belaieff Symphony Concerts. Belaieff had formed
a group of musicians whom he helped in every way: giving them material
assistance, publishing their works and having them performed at his
concerts. The leading figures in this group were Rimsky-Korsakov and
Glazounov, who were joined by Liadov and, later on, Tcherepnin, the
brothers Blumenfeld, Sokolov, and other pupils of Rimsky-Korsakov. This
group, though the offspring of the Five, rapidly changed, and, perhaps
without realizing it, developed a new school, little by little taking
possession of the Conservatoire in place of the old academicians who had
directed it since its foundation by Anton Rubinstein.

When I got into touch with some of the members of this group, its
transformation into a new school had already been accomplished, so that
I found myself confronted by an academy whose aesthetics and dogmas were
well established, and had to be accepted or rejected as a whole.

I was then of an age--the age of early apprenticeship--when the critical
faculty is generally lacking, and one blindly accepts truths propounded
by those whose prestige is unanimously recognized, especially when this
prestige is concerned with the mastery of technique and the art of
_savoir faire_. Thus I accepted their dogmas quite spontaneously, and
all the more readily because at that time I was a fervent admirer of
Rimsky-Korsakov and Glazounov. I was specially drawn to the former by
his melodic and harmonic inspiration, which then seemed to me full of
freshness; to the latter by his feeling for symphonic form; and to both
by their scholarly workmanship. I need hardly stress how much I longed
to attain this ideal of perfection in which I really saw the highest
degree of art; and with all the feeble means at my disposal I
assiduously strove to imitate them in my attempts at composition.

It was during these years that I made the acquaintance of Ivan
Pokrovsky, a young man, older than myself, highly cultured, with
advanced tastes, a lover of art in general and of music in particular.
My association with him was very pleasant, because it relieved the
monotony of school life and at the same time extended the field of my
artistic ideas. He introduced me to authors of whom, till then, I had
known nothing--above all to French composers such as Gounod, Bizet,
Delibes, and Chabrier. Even then I noticed a certain affinity between
the music of these composers and that of Tchaikovsky, an affinity which
I saw much more clearly when, later, I was able to examine and compare
their works with a more practiced eye. It is true that I was familiar
with those pages of _Faust_ and _Carmen_ which one heard everywhere, but
it was chiefly the fact that I was always hearing them that had
prevented me from consciously forming an opinion of these musicians. It
was only on looking into their works with Pokrovsky that I discovered in
them a musical language which was unfamiliar to me, and which differed
noticeably from that of the Belaieff group and its kind. I found in them
a different type of musical writing, different harmonic methods, a
different melodic conception, a freer and fresher feeling for form. This
gave rise to doubts, as yet barely perceptible, with regard to what had
up till then seemed unassailable dogma. That is why I am eternally
grateful to Pokrovsky; for from my discussions with him dates my gradual
emancipation from the influence that, all unknown to myself, the
academicism of the time was exercising over me. I must say, however,
that for many years to come, in spite of everything, the domination of
this group was still noticeable in me.

Indeed, I often undertook to defend the principles of the group, and in
a most peremptory manner, when I came up against the antiquated opinions
of those who did not realize that they themselves had long since been
left behind. Thus I had to battle with my second piano mistress, a pupil
and admirer of Anton Rubinstein. She was an excellent pianist and a good
musician, but completely obsessed by her adoration for her illustrious
master, whose views she blindly accepted, and I had great difficulty in
making her accept the scores of Rimsky-Korsakov or of Wagner--which at
that period I was fervently studying. But here I must say that,
notwithstanding our differences of opinion, this excellent musician
managed to give a new impetus to my piano playing and to the development
of my technique. At that moment the question of my vocation had not been
raised in any definite form either by my parents or by myself. And how
could one in fact foretell the hazardous course of a composer's career?
My parents, like the majority of their class, therefore, thought above
all of giving me the education necessary to enable me to obtain a post,
administrative or otherwise, which would assure me a livelihood. That is
why, as soon as I had matriculated, they considered it advisable that I
should study law at the University of St. Petersburg. As for my
inclinations and my predilections for music, they regarded them as mere
amateurism, to be encouraged up to a point, without in the least taking
into consideration the degree to which my aptitudes might be developed.
This now seems to me quite natural.

The next few years, in which I had to matriculate and then to work at
the University, were, as may well be imagined, by no means attractive
from my point of view, because my interests all lay elsewhere. However,
at my urgent request, my parents agreed to give me a teacher of harmony.
I therefore began the study of harmony, but, contrary to all
expectation, I found no satisfaction in it, perhaps owing to the
pedagogical incompetence of my teacher, perhaps to the method used, and
perhaps--and this is most likely--to my inherent aversion to any dry
study. Let me make myself clear. I always did, and still do, prefer to
achieve my aims and to solve any problems which confront me in the
course of my work solely by my own efforts, without having recourse to
established processes which do, it is true, facilitate the task, but
which must first be learned and then remembered. To learn and remember
such things, however useful they might be, always seemed to me dull and
boring; I was too lazy for that sort of work, especially as I had little
faith in my memory. If that had been better, I should certainly have
found more interest, and possibly even pleasure, in it. I insist on the
word "pleasure," though some people might find it too light a word for
the scope and significance of the feeling I am trying to indicate.

But I can experience this feeling of pleasure in the very process of
work, and in looking forward to the joy that any find or discovery may
bring. And I admit that I am not sorry that this should have been so,
because perfect facility would, of necessity, have diminished my
eagerness in striving, and the satisfaction of having "found" would not
have been complete.

On the other hand, I was much drawn to the study of counterpoint, though
that is generally considered a dry subject, useful only for pedagogical
purposes. From about the age of eighteen I began to study it alone, with
no other help than an ordinary manual. The work amused me, even thrilled
me, and I was never tired of it. This first contact with the science of
counterpoint opened up at once a far vaster and more fertile field in
the domain of musical composition than anything that harmony could offer
me. And so I set myself with heart and soul to the task of solving the
many problems it contains. This amused me tremendously, but it was only
later that I realized to what an extent those exercises had helped to
develop my judgment and my taste in music. They stimulated my
imagination and my desire to compose; they laid the foundation of all my
future technique, prepared me thoroughly for the study of form, of
orchestration, and of instrument which later I took up with

I have now reached the period at which I made the acquaintance of that
illustrious composer. When I went to the University I found his youngest
son there, and was very soon on the best of terms with him. At that time
his father hardly knew of my existence.

In 1902 Rimsky-Korsakov took his whole family to spend the summer
vacation at Heidelberg, where one of his sons was a student at the
University. At the same time my mother and I had gone to Bad Wildungen
with my father, who was already seriously ill. From there I rushed over
to Heidelberg to see my fellow student and also to consult his father
about my vocation. I told him of my ambition to become a composer, and
asked his advice. He made me play some of my first attempts. Alas! the
way in which he received them was far from what I had hoped. Seeing how
upset I was, and evidently anxious not to discourage me, he asked if I
could play anything else. I did so, of course, and it was then that he
gave his opinion.

He told me that before anything else I must continue my studies in
harmony and counterpoint with one or other of his pupils in order to
acquire complete mastery in the schooling of craftsmanship, but at the
same time he strongly advised me not to enter the Conservatoire. He
considered that the atmosphere of that institution, in which he was
himself a professor, was not suited to me, for I should be overwhelmed
with work, and he suggested I might as well go on with my University
course. Moreover, as I was twenty he feared that I might find myself
backward in comparison with my contemporaries, and that this might
discourage me. He further considered it necessary that my work should be
systematically supervised, and that this could be achieved only by
private lessons. He finished by adding that I could always go to him for
advice, and that he was quite willing to take me in hand when I had
acquired the necessary foundation.

Although in my ingenuousness I was somewhat downcast over the lack of
enthusiasm that the master had shown for my first attempts at
composition, I found some comfort in the fact that he had nevertheless
advised me to continue my studies, and so demonstrated his opinion that
I had sufficient ability to devote myself to a musical career. This
comforted me all the more because everyone knew the rigor and frankness
of his judgment when his verdict as to the musical vocation of a
beginner was required: he fully realized the personal responsibility
attaching to his great authority. The story was told of a young doctor
who came to show him his compositions and ask for advice. Having learned
that he was a doctor, Rimsky-Korsakov said: "Excellent. Continue to
practice medicine."

After my interview with the master I had firmly resolved to devote
myself seriously to my studies with my harmony teacher, but once again I
found that I was thoroughly bored, and felt that I was making scarcely
any progress.

At that moment several circumstances prevented me from working
regularly. First there was the death of my father in November, 1902.
Then there was the desire to live an independent life in the company of
my friends, who formed an ever-widening circle, largely owing to my
association with the Rimsky-Korsakov family, of whom I saw as much as
possible. In this highly cultured environment I formed new ties among
the young people whom I met there, all of whom had intellectual
interests of one sort or another. There were painters, young scientists,
scholars, enlightened amateurs of the most advanced views. One of them
was my friend Stepan Mitoussov, with whom later I composed the libretto
for my opera, _Le Rossignol_. We took a passionate interest in
everything that went on in the intellectual and artistic life of the
capital. Diaghileff had just started the publication of his vanguard
review, _Mir Iskoustva_ (_The World of Art_), and was organizing his
exhibitions of pictures. At the same time my friends Pokrovsky, Nouvel,
and Nurok founded an interesting musical society which they called
Soirees of Contemporary Music. It is needless to speak of the importance
of these two groups in my artistic and intellectual evolution, and how
much they strengthened the development of my creative faculty.

Here I must break the thread of my story in order to acquaint the reader
with the antagonism which was inevitable to arise between opinion in
academic circles and the new trend in art which these two societies
stood for. I will not expatiate on the aggressive hostility with which
the reactionary and conservative set in the Academy and the Imperial
Society for the Encouragement of Art met the activities of Diaghileff,
and particularly his review, _Mir Iskoustva_--and God knows what he
endured in that struggle! I will touch here only on the musicians and
their attitude towards the whole of this new movement. Certainly the
majority of the Conservatoire pedagogues were against it, and accused
it, of course, of corrupting the taste of the younger generation. But I
must say, in justice to Rimsky-Korsakov and Liadov, that,
notwithstanding their disapproval, they had sufficient courage and
finesse not to make a sweeping condemnation of everything serious and
appreciable that modern art had to offer.

The following is illustrative of the attitude of the old master towards
Debussy. At a concert where one of the latter's works was on the program
I asked Rimsky-Korsakov what he thought of it. He answered in these very
words: "Better not listen to him; one runs the risk of getting
accustomed to him and one would end by liking him." But such was not the
attitude of his disciples--they were more royalist than the King. The
rare exceptions discoverable among them served only to prove the rule.
My recollection of Liadov is a pleasant one. His head looked very much
like that of a Kalmuck woman, and he had a gentle, agreeable, and kindly
nature. Bent on clear and meticulous writing, he was very strict with
his pupils and with himself, composing very little and working slowly,
and, so to speak, under a microscope. He read much, and, considering the
atmosphere of the Conservatoire where he was a professor, he was fairly

It was at this period that I became acquainted with the works of César
Franck, Vincent d'Indy, Fauré, Paul Dukas, and Debussy, of whose names I
had hardly heard. Our Academy pretended to know nothing of all these
French composers of widespread fame, and never included their works in
the programs of the big symphony concerts. As the Soirees of
Contemporary Music had not the wherewithal for giving orchestral
performances, we were at that time able to hear only the chamber music
of these composers. It was not till later, at the concerts of Siloti and
those of Koussevitzky, that our public had a chance to hear their
symphonic productions.

The impressions I formed of the work of these composers, so different
from each other, were naturally varied. My feelings were already
beginning to crystallize on the subject of César Franck and his academic
thought, Vincent d'Indy and his scholastic yet Wagnerian mentality, on
the one hand, and Debussy on the other, with his extraordinary freedom
and freshness of technique that was really quite new for his period.
Next to him Chabrier appealed most to me, notwithstanding his well-known
Wagnerianism (to my mind a purely superficial and outward aspect of
him), and my taste for his music has increased with time.

It must not be imagined that my inclination towards the new tendencies,
of which I have just spoken, meant any diminution in my adoration for my
old masters, because all the appreciations expressed above were then
only subconsciously germinating, while consciously I felt an imperative
need to get a foothold in my profession. I could achieve that only by
submitting to the discipline of these masters, and, by implication, to
their aesthetics. This discipline, while of the utmost rigor, was at the
same time most productive, and it was in no way responsible for the
number of mediocrities of the Prix de Rome type to which our Academy
gave birth every year. But, as I have said, in submitting to their
discipline I was confronted by their aesthetics, from which it could not
be divorced. Indeed, every doctrine of aesthetics, when put into
practice, demands a particular mode of expression--in fact, a technique
of its own; for, in art, such a thing as technique founded on no given
basis--in short, a technique in the void--would be utterly
inconceivable; and it would be still more difficult to imagine when a
whole group, or school, is under consideration. I cannot, therefore,
reproach my teachers for having clung to their own aesthetics; they
could not have done otherwise; and, as a matter of fact, it was no
hindrance to me. On the other hand, the technical knowledge that I
acquired, thanks to them, gave me a foundation of incalculable value in
its solidity, on which I was able later to establish and develop my own
craftsmanship. No matter what the subject may be, there is only one
course for the beginner; he must at first accept a discipline imposed
from without, but only as the means of obtaining freedom for, and
strengthening himself in, his own method of expression.

About this time I composed a full-sized sonata for the piano. In this
work I was constantly confronted by many difficulties, especially in
matters of form, the mastery of which is usually acquired only after
prolonged study, and my perplexities suggested the idea of my consulting
Rimsky-Korsakov again. I went to see him in the country at the end of
the summer of 1903, and stayed with him for about a fortnight. He made
me compose the first part of a sonatina under his supervision, after
having instructed me in the principles of the allegro of a sonata. He
explained these principles with a lucidity so remarkable as to show me
at once what a great teacher he was. At the same time he taught me the
compass and the registers of the different instruments used in
contemporary symphonic orchestras, and the first elements of the art of
orchestration. He adopted the plan of teaching form and orchestration
side by side, because in his view the more highly developed musical
forms found their fullest expression in the complexity of the orchestra.

I worked with him in this way: he would give me some pages of the piano
score of a new opera he had just finished (_Pan Voïvoda_), which I was
to orchestrate. When I had orchestrated a section, he would show me his
own instrumentation of the same passage. I had to compare them, and then
he would ask me to explain why he had done it differently. Whenever I
was unable to do so, it was he who explained. Thus was established our
association as teacher and pupil, which, with the beginning of regular
lessons in the autumn, continued for about three years.

Although he was giving me lessons, he nevertheless wanted me still to
continue my studies of counterpoint with my former teacher, who was one
of his pupils. But I think that he only insisted for conscience' sake,
and that he realized that these lessons would not take me far. Shortly
afterwards I gave them up, though that did not prevent me from
continuing alone the counterpoint exercises, in which I took more and
more interest, and during that period I filled a thick volume with them.
Alas! it was left in my country house in Russia, where, together with my
whole library, it disappeared during the Revolution.

My work with Rimsky-Korsakov consisted of his giving me pieces of
classical music to orchestrate. I remember that they were chiefly parts
of Beethoven's sonatas, and of Schubert's quartets and marches. Once a
week I took my work to him and he criticized and corrected it, giving me
all the necessary explanations, and at the same time he made me analyze
the form and structure of classical works. A year and a half later I
began the composition of a symphony. As soon as I finished one part of a
movement I used to show it to him, so that my whole work, including the
instrumentation, was under his control.

I composed this symphony at the time when Alexander Glazounov reigned
supreme in the science of symphony. Each new production of his was
received as a musical event of the first order, so greatly were the
perfections of his form, the purity of his counterpoint, and the ease
and assurance of his writing appreciated. At that time I shared this
admiration whole-heartedly, fascinated by the astonishing mastery of
this scholar. It was, therefore, quite natural that side by side with
other influences (Tchaikovsky, Wagner, Rimsky-Korsakov) his
predominated, and that in my symphony I modeled myself particularly on

At this point the period of my adolescence came to an end. In the spring
of 1905 I finished my University course. In the autumn I became engaged,
and I was married in January, 1906.


After my marriage I continued my lessons with Rimsky-Korsakov, the work
consisting mainly of my showing him my compositions and discussing them
with him. During the season of 1906-1907, I finished my symphony and
dedicated it to him. I composed also a little suite for voice and
orchestra, _Faune et Bergère_, on three poems by Pushkin in the manner
of Parny. Rimsky-Korsakov, who had closely followed the composition of
these two works, wishing to give me the opportunity of hearing them,
arranged with the Court orchestra to have them performed in the spring
of 1907 at a private audition under the direction of its usual conductor
H. Wahrlich.

In the season of 1907-1908, _Faune et Bergère_ was given in public at
one of the Belaieff concerts, conducted, if I remember rightly, by Felix
Blumenfeld. I had two important works in hand at the same time: the
_Scherzo Fantastique_ and the first act of my opera, _Le Rossignol_, the
libretto of which I had written in collaboration with my friend
Mitoussov. It was based on a story by Hans Andersen. This work was
greatly encouraged by my master, and to this day I remember with
pleasure his approval of the preliminary sketches of these compositions.
It grieves me much that he was never to hear them in their finished
form, for I think that he would have liked them. Concurrently with this
important work, I was composing two vocal settings for the words of a
young Russian poet, Gorodetsky. He was one of a group of authors who, by
their talent and their freshness, were destined to put new life into our
somewhat old-fashioned poetry. These two songs were later called in
French _La Novice_ and _Sainte Rosée_. They and _Pastorale_, a song
without words, were given at the Soirees in the winter of 1908.

It was during that winter that my poor master's health began to fail.
Frequent attacks of angina gave warning that it was only too likely that
the end was near. I often went to see him, apart from my lessons, and he
seemed to like my visits. He had my deep affection, and I was genuinely
attached to him. It seems that these sentiments were reciprocated, but
it was only later that I learned so from his family. His characteristic
reserve had never allowed him to make any sort of display of his

Before starting for the country, where I generally spent vacation, my
wife and I went to say good-by to him. That was the last time I saw him.
In my talk with him I told him about a short orchestral fantasy, called
_Feu d'Artifice_, that I contemplated. He seemed interested, and told me
to send it to him as soon as it was ready. I set to work as soon as I
arrived at Oustiloug, our estate in Volhynia, with the intention of
sending the score to him for his daughter's wedding, which was shortly
to take place. I finished it in six weeks and sent it off to the country
place where he was spending the summer. A few days later a telegram
informed me of his death, and shortly afterwards my registered packet
was returned to me: "Not delivered on account of death of addressee." I
joined his family at once in order to attend the funeral, which took
place in St. Petersburg. The service was held in the chapel of the
Conservatoire. His tomb, in the Novodievitchy Cemetery, is near that of
my father.

On returning to the country, and wishing to pay some tribute to the
memory of my master, I composed a _Chant Funèbre_, which was performed
in the autumn, Felix Blumenfeld conducting, at the first Belaieff
concert, which was dedicated to the memory of the great musician. The
score of this work unfortunately disappeared in Russia during the
Revolution, along with many other things which I had left there. I can
no longer remember the music, but I can remember the idea at the root of
its conception, which was that all the solo instruments of the orchestra
filed past the tomb of the master in succession, each laying down its
own melody as its wreath against a deep background of tremolo murmurings
simulating the vibrations of bass voices singing in chorus. The
impression made on the public, as well as on myself, was marked, but how
far it was due to the atmosphere of mourning and how far to the merits
of the composition itself I am no longer able to judge.

The presentation of the _Scherzo Fantastique_ and _Feu d'Artifice_ at
the Siloti concerts in the winter marks a date of importance for the
whole future of my musical career. It was at this point that I began the
close relations with Diaghileff which lasted for twenty years, right up
to his death, and developed into a deep friendship based on a reciprocal
affection that was proof against the difference of views or tastes which
could not but arise from time to time in such a long period. Having
heard the two compositions just mentioned, he commissioned me, among
certain other Russian composers, to orchestrate two pieces by Chopin for
the ballet, _Les Sylphides_, to be given in Paris in the spring of 1909.
They were the _Nocturne_ with which the dancing begins and the _Valse
Brillante_ with which the ballet closes. I could not go abroad that
year, so that it was not until twelve months afterwards that I first
heard my music in Paris.

These compositions, together with the death of Rimsky-Korsakov, had
interrupted my work on the first act of my opera, _Le Rossignol_. In the
summer of 1909 I returned to it with the firm intention of finishing it.
There were to be three acts. But circumstances once again proved too
strong for me. By the end of the summer the orchestration of the first
act was finished, and, on returning to town, I meant to go on with the
rest. But a telegram then arrived to upset all my plans. Diaghileff, who
had just reached St. Petersburg, asked me to write the music for
_L'Oiseau de Feu_ for the Russian Ballet season at the Paris Opera House
in the spring of 1910. Although alarmed by the fact that this was a
commission for a fixed date, and afraid lest I should fail to complete
the work in time--I was still unaware of my own capabilities--I accepted
the order. It was highly flattering to be chosen from among the
musicians of my generation, and to be allowed to collaborate in so
important an enterprise side by side with personages who were generally
recognized as masters in their own spheres.

Here I must interrupt the chronological sequence of my story in order to
give the reader a short account of the place which the ballet and ballet
music occupied in intellectual circles and among so-called "serious"
musicians in the period immediately preceding the appearance of the
Diaghileff group. Although our ballet shone then, as always, by reason
of its technical perfection, and although it filled the theatre, it was
only rarely that these circles were represented among the audience. They
considered this form of art as an inferior one, especially as compared
with opera, which, though mishandled and turned into musical drama
(which is not at all the same thing), still retained its own prestige.
This was particularly the point of view in regard to the music of the
classical ballet, which contemporary opinion considered to be unworthy
of a serious composer. These poor souls had forgotten Glinka and his
splendid dances in the Italian style in _Ruslan and Ludmilla_. It is
true that Rimsky-Korsakov appreciated them--or, rather, forgave Glinka
for them--but he himself, in his numerous operas, definitely gave the
preference to character or national dances. We must not forget that it
was these very pages of Glinka which inspired the great Russian
composer, who was the first to bring about the serious recognition of
ballet music in general--I refer to Tchaikovsky. In the early eighties
he had had the audacity to compose a ballet for the Grand Theatre in
Moscow, _Le Lac des Cygnes_, and he had to pay for his audacity by
complete failure with the ignorant public, which would only admit ballet
music as subsidiary and unimportant. His lack of success, however, did
not prevent the Director of the Imperial Theatres, Ivan Vsevolojsky--a
very enlightened and cultured aristocrat--from commissioning Tchaikovsky
to compose another ballet, _The Sleeping Beauty_. It was produced with
unprecedented lavishness (the production cost eighty thousand rubles) in
the presence of the Emperor Alexander III at the Marie Theatre in St.
Petersburg in December, 1889. This music was as much discussed by the
incorrigible "balletomaniacs" as by the critics. They considered that it
was too symphonic, and did not lend itself sufficiently to dancing.
Nevertheless, it made a great impression on musicians, and completely
changed their attitude towards the ballet in general. Thus, a few years
later we see, one after the other, such composers as Glazounov, Arensky,
and Tcherepnin composing ballets for the Imperial Theatres.

At the moment when I received Diaghileff's commission, the ballet had
just undergone a great transformation owing to the advent of a young
ballet master, Fokine, and the flowering of a whole bouquet of artists
full of talent and originality: Pavlova, Karsavina, Nijinsky.
Notwithstanding all my admiration for the classical ballet and its great
master, Marius Petipa, I could not resist the intoxication produced by
such ballets as _Les Danses du Prince Igor_ or _Carnaval_, the only two
of Fokine's productions that I had so far seen. All this greatly tempted
me, and impelled me to break through the pale and eagerly seize this
opportunity of making close contact with that group of advanced and
active artists of which Diaghileff was the soul, and which had long
attracted me.

Throughout the winter I worked strenuously at my ballet, and that
brought me into constant touch with Diaghileff and his collaborators.
Fokine created the choreography of _L'Oiseau de Feu_ section by section,
as the music was handed to him. I attended every rehearsal with the
company, and after rehearsals Diaghileff, Nijinsky (who was, however,
not dancing in the ballet), and myself generally ended the day with a
fine dinner, washed down with good claret.

I then had an opportunity of observing Nijinsky at close quarters. He
spoke little, and, when he did speak, gave the impression of being a
very backward youth, whose intelligence was very undeveloped for his
age. But, whenever this occurred, Diaghileff, who was always beside him,
would intervene and correct him so tactfully that no one noticed his
embarrassing defects. I shall have further occasion to speak of Nijinsky
when describing the part he took in my other ballets, either as dancer
or choreographer.

Here I must say more of Diaghileff, because the close association I had
with him during this first collaboration revealed the very essence of
his great personality. What struck me most was the degree of endurance
and tenacity that he displayed in pursuit of his ends. His strength in
this direction was so exceptional that it was always somewhat
terrifying, though at the same time reassuring, to work with him. It was
terrifying because whenever there was a divergence of opinion it was
arduous and exhausting to struggle with him. But it was reassuring to
know that the goal was certain to be reached when once our differences
had been overcome.

The quality of his intelligence and mentality also attracted me. He had
a wonderful flair, a marvelous faculty for seizing at a glance the
novelty and freshness of an idea, surrendering himself to it without
pausing to reason it out. I do not mean to imply that he was at all
lacking in reasoning power. On the contrary, his reasoning powers were
unerring, and he had a most rational mind; and, though he frequently
made mistakes or acted foolishly, it was because he had been carried
away by passion or temperament--the two forces predominant in him.

He had at the same time a broad and generous nature, usually incapable
of calculation, and, when he did calculate, it meant only that he
himself was penniless. On the other hand, when he was in funds he spent
lavishly on himself and on others. An odd trait in his character was his
strange indifference towards the somewhat dubious honesty of some of
those who were in touch with him--even when they victimized him--so long
as their dishonesty was offset by other qualities. What he most detested
were the commonplace, incapacity, a lack of _savoir faire_: he hated and
despised a fool. Strangely enough, in this highly intelligent man,
efficiency and shrewdness were accompanied by a certain childish
ingenuousness. He never bore a grudge. When anyone swindled him, he was
not angry, but would remark simply, "Well, what of it? He's looking
after himself."

But to return to my score of _L'Oiseau de Feu_; I worked strenuously at
it, and when I finished it on time I felt the need of a rest in the
country before going to Paris, which I was to visit for the first time.

Diaghileff, with his company and collaborators, preceded me, so that
when I joined them rehearsals were in full swing. Fokine elaborated the
scenario, having worked at his choreography with burning devotion, the
more so because he had fallen in love with the Russian fairy story. The
casting was not what I had intended. Pavlova, with her slim angular
figure, had seemed to me infinitely better suited to the role of the
fairy bird than Karsavina, with her gentle feminine charm, for whom I
had intended the part of the captive princess. Though circumstances had
decided otherwise than I had planned, I had no cause for complaint,
since Karsavina's rendering of the bird's part was perfect, and that
beautiful and gracious artist had a brilliant success in it.

The performance was warmly applauded by the Paris public. I am, of
course, far from attributing this success solely to the score; it was
equally due to the spectacle on the stage in the painter Golovin's
magnificent setting, the brilliant interpretation by Diaghileff's
artists, and the talent of the choreographer. I must admit, however,
that the choreography of this ballet always seemed to me to be
complicated and overburdened with plastic detail, so that the artists
felt, and still feel even now, great difficulty in coordinating their
steps and gestures with the music, and this often led to an unpleasant
discordance between the movements of the dance and the imperative
demands that the measure of the music imposed.

Although the evolution of the classical dance and its problems now seem
much more real to me, and touch me more closely than the distant
aesthetics of Fokine, I still consider that I have a right to form and
express the opinion that in the sphere of choreography I prefer, for
example, the vigor of the _Danses du Prince Igor_, with their clear-cut
and positive lines, to the somewhat detached designs of _L'Oiseau de

Returning for a moment to the music, it gives me much pleasure to pay
grateful tribute to the mastery with which the eminent Gabriel Pierné
conducted my work.

While I was in Paris I had the opportunity of meeting several persons of
importance in the world of music, such as Debussy, Ravel, Florent
Schmitt, and Manuel de Falla, who were there at that time. I recall that
on the first night Debussy came on to the stage and complimented me on
my score. That was the beginning of friendly relations which lasted to
the end of his life.

The approbation, and even admiration, extended to me by the artistic and
musical world in general, but more particularly by representatives of
the younger generation, greatly strengthened me in regard to the plans
which I had in mind for the future--I am thinking in particular of
_Petroushka_, of which I shall have more to say later.

One day, when I was finishing the last pages of _L'Oiseau de Feu_ in St.
Petersburg, I had a fleeting vision which came to me as a complete
surprise, my mind at the moment being full of other things. I saw in
imagination a solemn pagan rite: sage elders, seated in a circle,
watched a young girl dance herself to death. They were sacrificing her
to propitiate the god of spring. Such was the theme of the _Sacre du
Printemps_. I must confess that this vision made a deep impression on
me, and I at once described it to my friend, Nicholas Roerich, he being
a painter who had specialized in pagan subjects. He welcomed my
inspiration with enthusiasm, and became my collaborator in this
creation. In Paris I told Diaghileff about it, and he was at once
carried away by the idea, though its realization was delayed by the
following events.

At the end of the Paris season I had a short rest at the sea, in which I
composed two songs to Verlaine's words, and at the end of August I went
to Switzerland with my family.

Before tackling the _Sacre du Printemps_, which would be a long and
difficult task, I wanted to refresh myself by composing an orchestral
piece in which the piano would play the most important part--a sort of
_Konzertstück_. In composing the music, I had in my mind a distinct
picture of a puppet, suddenly endowed with life, exasperating the
patience of the orchestra with diabolical cascades of arpeggios. The
orchestra in turn retaliates with menacing trumpet blasts. The outcome
is a terrific noise which reaches its climax and ends in the sorrowful
and querulous collapse of the poor puppet. Having finished this bizarre
piece, I struggled for hours, while walking beside the Lake of Geneva,
to find a title which would express in a word the character of my music
and consequently, the personality of this creature.

One day I leapt for joy. I had indeed found my title--_Petroushka_, the
immortal and unhappy hero of every fair in all countries. Soon
afterwards Diaghileff came to visit me at Clarens, where I was staying.
He was much astonished when, instead of sketches of the _Sacre_, I
played him the piece I had just composed and which later became the
second scene of _Petroushka_. He was so much pleased with it that he
would not leave it alone and began persuading me to develop the theme of
the puppet's sufferings and make it into a whole ballet. While he
remained in Switzerland we worked out together the general lines of the
subject and the plot in accordance with ideas which I suggested. We
settled the scene of action: the fair, with its crowd, its booths, the
little traditional theatre, the character of the magician, with all his
tricks; and the coming to life of the dolls--_Petroushka_, his rival,
and the dancer--and their love tragedy, which ends with Petroushka's
death. I began at once to compose the first scene of the ballet, which I
finished at Beaulieu, where I spent the winter with my family. While
there, I frequently saw Diaghileff, who was at Monte Carlo. By mutual
agreement, Diaghileff entrusted the whole _décor_ of the ballet, both
the scenery and the costumes, to Benois. Diaghileff soon went off to St.
Petersburg, whence he wrote at Christmas, asking me to join him there
for a few days, bringing my music so that Benois and his other
collaborators might see it. I went in some trepidation. The suddenness
of the transition from the sunny warmth of Beaulieu to the fog and snow
of my native city struck me with great force.

As soon as I arrived I let my friends hear what I had so far composed
for _Petroushka_--namely, the first two scenes and the beginning of the
third. Benois immediately began work, and in the spring he joined us at
Monte Carlo, whither Diaghileff and I had returned.

I little thought then that I had seen my native town for the last
time--St. Petersburg, the town of St. Peter, dedicated by Peter the
Great to his great patron saint and not to himself, as was doubtless
supposed by the ignorant inventors of the absurd name, Petrograd.

When I returned to Beaulieu, I resumed work on my score, but its
progress was interrupted. I became seriously ill with nicotine
poisoning, and was at the point of death, this illness causing a month
of enforced idleness. I was terribly anxious about the fate of
_Petroushka_, which had at all costs to be ready for Paris in the
spring. Fortunately I recovered my strength sufficiently to enable me to
finish my work in the ten weeks which remained before the beginning of
the season. Towards the end of April I set out for Rome, where
Diaghileff was giving performances at the Costanzi Theatre during the
International Exhibition. There _Petroushka_ was rehearsed, and there I
finished its last pages.

I shall always remember with particular pleasure that spring in Rome,
which I was seeing for the first time. I stayed at the Albergo d'Italia
with Benois and the Russian painter, Serov, to whom I became greatly
attached. In spite of my strenuous work, we found time to make various
expeditions which were very instructive for me, as Benois was a learned
connoisseur in matters of art and history and had a talent for making
the past live, so that these expeditions provided a veritable education
in which I delighted.

On our arrival in Paris, rehearsals started under the direction of
Pierre Monteux, who was for several years the conductor of the Russian
Ballet. From an instrumentalist in Colonne's orchestra he had attained
the rank of assistant conductor. He knew his job thoroughly, and was so
familiar with the surroundings from which he had risen that he knew how
to get on with his musicians--a great asset for a conductor. Thus he was
able to achieve a very clean and finished execution of my score. I ask
no more of a conductor, for any other attitude on his part immediately
turns into _interpretation_, a thing I have a horror of. The
_interpreter_ of necessity can think of nothing but _interpretation_,
and thus takes on the garb of a translator, _traduttore-traditore_; this
is an absurdity in music, and for the interpreter it is a source of
vanity inevitably leading to the most ridiculous megalomania. During the
rehearsals I had the great satisfaction of seeing that all my intentions
with regard to sound effects were amply confirmed.

At the dress rehearsal at the Chatelet, to which the Press and the elite
of the artistic world had been invited, I remember the _Petroushka_
produced an immediate effect on everyone in the audience with the
exception of a few hypercritics. One of them--it is true that he was a
literary critic--actually went up to Diaghileff and said: "And it was to
hear this that you invited us!" "Exactly," replied Diaghileff. It is
only fair to add that later on the celebrated critic, to judge by his
praise, seemed to have forgotten this sally.

I should like at this point to pay heartfelt homage to Vaslav Nijinsky's
unsurpassed rendering of the role of Petroushka. The perfection with
which he became the very incarnation of this character was all the more
remarkable because the purely saltatory work in which he usually
excelled was in this case definitely dominated by dramatic action,
music, and gesture. The beauty of the ballet was greatly enhanced by the
richness of the artistic setting that Benois had created for it. My
faithful interpreter, Karsavina, swore to me that she would never
relinquish her part as the dancer, which she adored. But it was a pity
that the movements of the crowd had been neglected. I mean that they
were left to the arbitrary improvisation of the performers instead of
being choreographically regulated in accordance with the clearly defined
exigencies of the music. I regret it all the more because the _danses
d'ensemble_ of the coachmen, nurses, and mummers and the solo dances
must be regarded as Fokine's finest creations.

As for my present opinion of the music of _Petroushka_, I think it will
be best to refer the reader to the pages that I shall devote later to my
own rendering of my works, which will necessarily lead me to speak of

And now for the _Sacre du Printemps_.

As I have already said, when I conceived the idea, immediately after
_L'Oiseau de Feu_, I became so much absorbed in the composition of
_Petroushka_ that I had no chance even to sketch preliminary outlines.

After the Paris season, I returned to Oustiloug, our estate in Russia,
to devote myself entirely to the _Sacre du Printemps_. I found time,
however, to compose two melodies to the words of the Russian poet
Balmont. Besides that, also to Balmont's words, I composed a cantata for
choir and orchestra, _Zvezdoliki_ (The King of the Stars), which I
dedicated to Claude Debussy. Owing, however, to inherent difficulties
involved in the execution of this very short piece, with its important
orchestral contingent and the complexity of its choral writing as
regards intonation, it has never been performed.

Although I had conceived the subject of the _Sacre du Printemps_ without
any plot, some plan had to be designed for the sacrificial action. For
this it was necessary that I should see Roerich. He was staying at the
moment at Talachkino, the estate of Princess Tenicheva, a great patron
of Russian art. I joined him, and it was there that we settled the
visual embodiment of the _Sacre_ and the definite sequence of its
different episodes. I began the score on returning to Oustiloug, and
worked at it through the winter at Clarens.

Diaghileff made up his mind that year that he would spare no effort to
make a choreographer of Nijinsky. I do not know whether he really
believed in his choreographic gifts, or whether he thought that his
talented dancing, about which he raved, indicated that he would show
equal talent as a ballet master. However that may be, his idea was to
make Nijinsky compose, under his own strict supervision, a sort of
antique tableau conjuring up the erotic gambols of a faun importuning
nymphs. At the suggestion of Bakst, who was obsessed by ancient Greece,
this tableau was to be presented as an animated bas-relief, with the
figures in profile. Bakst dominated this production. Besides creating
the decorative setting and the beautiful costumes, he inspired the
choreography even to the slightest movements. Nothing better could be
found for this ballet than the impressionist music of Debussy, who,
however, evinced little enthusiasm for the project. Diaghileff
nevertheless, by dint of his persistence, wrung a half-hearted consent
from him, and, after repeated and laborious rehearsals, the ballet was
set afoot and was produced in Paris in the spring. The scandal which it
produced is a matter of history, but that scandal was in nowise due to
the so-called novelty of the performance, but to a gesture, too
audacious and too intimate, which Nijinsky made, doubtless thinking that
anything was permissible with an erotic subject and perhaps wishing
thereby to enhance the effect of the production. I mention this only
because it was so much discussed at the time. At this date the
aesthetics and the whole spirit of this kind of scenic display seem so
stale that I have not the least desire to discuss them further.

Nijinsky had been so busily engaged in making his first attempts as
ballet master, and in studying new roles, that he obviously had had
neither time nor strength to deal with the _Sacre du Printemps_, the
choreography of which had been entrusted to him. Fokine was occupied
with other ballets--Ravel's _Daphnis et Chloé_ and Reynaldo Hahn's _Le
Dieu Bleu_. The production of the _Sacre_, the score of which I had
meanwhile finished, had therefore to be put off till the following year.
This allowed me to take a rest and to work without haste on the

When I returned to Paris for the Diaghileff season, I heard, among other
things, the brilliant score of Maurice Ravel's _Daphnis et Chloé_, Ravel
having previously given me some idea of it by playing it to me on the
piano. Not only is it one of Ravel's greatest achievements, it is one of
the finest things in French music. If I am not mistaken it was in that
year, while seated, by Debussy's invitation, in his box at the Opéra
Comique, that I heard for the first time another great French work,
_Pelléas et Mélisande_. I was seeing a good deal of Debussy, and was
deeply touched by his sympathetic attitude towards me and my music. I
was struck by the delicacy of his appreciation, and was grateful to him,
among other things, for having observed what so few had then
noticed--the musical importance of the pages which precede the juggling
tricks in _Petroushka_ immediately before the final dance of the
marionettes in the first act. Debussy often invited me to his house, and
on one occasion I met there Erik Satie, whom I already knew by name. I
liked him at once. He was a quick-witted fellow, shrewd, clever, and
mordant. Of his compositions I prefer above all his _Socrate_ and
certain pages of his _Parade_.

From Paris I went as usual to Oustiloug for the summer, and there I
quietly continued my work on the _Sacre_. I was roused from that
peaceful existence by an invitation from Diaghileff to join him at
Bayreuth to hear _Parsifal_ in its hallowed setting. I had never seen
_Parsifal_ on the stage. The proposal was tempting, and I accepted it
with pleasure. On the way I stopped at Nuremberg for twenty-four hours
and visited the museum. Next day my dear, portly friend met me at the
Bayreuth station and told me that we were in danger of having to sleep
in the open, as all the hotels were filled to overflowing. We managed,
however, with great difficulty, to find two servants' rooms. The
performance that I saw there would not tempt me today, even if I were
offered a room gratis. The very atmosphere of the theatre, its design
and its setting, seemed lugubrious. It was like a crematorium, and a
very old-fashioned one at that, and one expected to see the gentleman in
black who had been entrusted with the task of singing the praises of the
departed. The order to devote oneself to contemplation was given by a
blast of trumpets. I sat humble and motionless, but at the end of a
quarter of an hour I could bear no more. My limbs were numb and I had to
change my position. Crack! Now I had done it! My chair had made a noise
which drew down on me the furious scowls of a hundred pairs of eyes.
Once more I withdrew into myself, but I could think of only one thing,
and that was the end of the act which would put an end to my martyrdom.
At last the intermission arrived, and I was rewarded by two sausages and
a glass of beer. But hardly had I had time to light a cigarette when the
trumpet blast sounded again, demanding another period of contemplation.
Another act to be got through, when all my thoughts were concentrated on
my cigarette, of which I had had barely a whiff. I managed to bear the
second act. Then there were more sausages, more beer, another trumpet
blast, another period of contemplation, another act--finis!

I do not want to discuss the music of _Parsifal_ or the music of Wagner
in general. At this date it is too remote from me. What I find revolting
in the whole affair is the underlying conception which dictated it--the
principle of putting a work of art on the same level as the sacred and
symbolic ritual which constitutes a religious service. And, indeed, is
not all this comedy of Bayreuth, with its ridiculous formalities, simply
an unconscious aping of a religious rite?

Perhaps someone may cite the mysteries of the Middle Ages in
contravention of this view. But those performances had religion as their
basis and faith as their source. The spirit of the mystery plays did not
venture beyond the bosom of the Church which patronized them. They were
religious ceremonies bordering on the canonical rites, and such
aesthetic qualities as they might contain were merely accessory and
unintentional, and in no way affected their substance. Such ceremonies
were due to the imperious desire of the faithful to see the objects of
their faith incarnate and in palpable form--the same desire as that
which created statues and ikons in the churches.

It is high time to put an end, once and for all, to this unseemly and
sacrilegious conception of art as religion and the theatre as a temple.
The following argument will readily show the absurdity of such pitiful
aesthetics: one cannot imagine a believer adopting a critical attitude
towards a religious service. That would be a contradiction in terms; the
believer would cease to be a believer. The attitude of an audience is
exactly the opposite. It is not dependent upon faith or blind
submission. At a performance one admires or one rejects. One accepts
only after having passed judgment, however little one may be aware of
it. The critical faculty plays an essential part. To confound these two
distinct lines of thought is to give proof of a complete lack of
discernment, and certainly of bad taste. But is it at all surprising
that such confusion should arise at a time like the present, when the
openly irreligious masses in their degradation of spiritual values and
debasement of human thought necessarily lead us to utter brutalization?
People are, however, apparently fully aware of the sort of monster to
which the world is about to give birth, and perceive with annoyance that
man cannot live without some kind of cult. An effort is therefore made
to refurbish old cults dragged from some revolutionary arsenal,
wherewith to enter into competition with the Church.

But to return to the _Sacre_. To be perfectly frank, I must say here and
now that the idea of working with Nijinsky filled me with misgiving,
notwithstanding our friendliness and my great admiration for his talent
as dancer and mime. His ignorance of the most elementary notions of
music was flagrant. The poor boy knew nothing of music. He could neither
read it nor play any instrument, and his reactions to music were
expressed in banal phrases or the repetition of what he had heard others
say. As one was unable to discover any individual impressions, one began
to doubt whether he had any. These lacunae were so serious that his
plastic vision, often of great beauty, could not compensate for them. My
apprehensions can be readily understood, but I had no choice in the
matter. Fokine had dissociated himself from Diaghileff, and in any case,
considering his aesthetic tendencies, he would doubtless have refused to
work at the _Sacre_; Romanov was busy with Florent Schmitt's _Salomé_;
only Nijinsky remained, and Diaghileff, still hopeful of making a ballet
master of him, insisted that he should put on both the _Sacre_ and
Debussy's _Jeux_.

Nijinsky began by demanding such a fantastic number of rehearsals that
it was physically impossible to give them to him. It will not be
difficult to understand why he wanted so many, when I say that in trying
to explain to him the construction of my work in general outline and in
detail I discovered that I should achieve nothing until I had taught him
the very rudiments of music: values--semibreve, minim, crochet, quaver,
etc.--bars, rhythm, tempo, and so on. He had the greatest difficulty in
remembering any of this. Nor was that all. When, in listening to music,
he contemplated movements, it was always necessary to remind him that he
must make them accord with the tempo, its divisions and values. It was
exasperating and we advanced at a snail's pace. It was all the more
trying because Nijinsky complicated and encumbered his dances beyond all
reason, thus creating difficulties for the dancers that were sometimes
impossible to overcome. This was due as much to his lack of experience
as to the complexity of a task with which he was unfamiliar.

Under these conditions I did not want to leave him to his own devices,
partly because of my kindly feeling for him but partly on account of my
work and considerations as to its fate. I therefore traveled a great
deal so as to attend the rehearsals of the company, which, throughout
that winter, took place in the different towns in which Diaghileff was
giving performances. The atmosphere was always heavy and stormy. It was
evident that the poor boy had been saddled with a task beyond his

He appeared to be quite unconscious both of his inadequacy and of the
fact that he had been given a role which, to put it shortly, he was
incapable of filling in so serious an undertaking as the Russian Ballet.
Seeing that he was losing prestige with the company but was strongly
upheld by Diaghileff, he became presumptuous, capricious, and
unmanageable. The natural result was a series of painful incidents which
seriously complicated matters.

It should not be necessary for me to emphasize that in writing all this
I have not the least desire to cast any slur on the fame of this
magnificent artist. We were, as I have already said, always on the best
of terms, and I have never ceased to admire his great talent for dancing
and mime. He will always live in my memory, and I hope in the memory of
everyone who had the good fortune to see him dance, as one of the most
beautiful visions that ever appeared on the stage.

But now that this great artist is, alas! the victim of mental malady,
his name belongs to history, and I should be false to history if, in
assessing his worth as an artist, I perpetuated the confusion which has
arisen between his work as interpreter and as creator. From what I have
said above it should be obvious that Diaghileff himself is mainly
responsible for that confusion, though that does not in any way detract
from my feeling of deep admiration for my great departed friend. It is
true that I refrained at the time from telling Nijinsky what I thought
of his efforts as a ballet master. I did not like to do so. I had to
spare his self-respect, and I knew in advance that his mentality and
character would make any such conversation alike painful and useless. On
the other hand, I had no hesitation in often talking about it to
Diaghileff. He, however, persisted in pushing Nijinsky along that path,
either because he regarded the gift of plastic vision as the most
important factor in choreographic art, or because he kept on hoping that
the qualities which seemed lacking in Nijinsky would one day or another
suddenly manifest themselves.

I worked continuously at the score of the _Sacre_ at Clarens throughout
the winter of 1912-1913, my work being interrupted only by interviews
with Diaghileff, who invited me to the first performances of _L'Oiseau
de Feu_ and _Petroushka_ in the different towns of central Europe where
the Russian Ballet was on tour.

My first journey was to Berlin. I very well remember the performance
before the Kaiser, the Kaiserin, and their suite. The program consisted
of _Cléopâtre_ and _Petroushka_. The Kaiser naturally gave preference to
_Cléopâtre_, and, in complimenting Diaghileff, told him that he would
send his Egyptologists to see the ballet and take a lesson from it. He
apparently thought that Bakst's fantastic coloring was a scrupulously
historical reproduction, and that the potpourri of the score was a
revelation of ancient Egyptian music. At another performance, when
_L'Oiseau de Feu_ was given, I made the acquaintance of Richard Strauss,
who came on to the stage and expressed great interest in the music.
Among other things, he said something which much amused me: "You make a
mistake in beginning your piece _pianissimo_; the public will not
listen. You should astonish them by a sudden crash at the very start.
After that they will follow you and you can do whatever you like."

It was on that visit to Berlin that I first met Schönberg, who invited
me to an audition of his _Pierrot Lunaire_. I did not feel the slightest
enthusiasm about the aesthetics of the work, which appeared to me to be
a retrogression to the out-of-date Beardsley cult. But, on the other
hand, I consider that the merits of the instrumentation are beyond

Budapest, the next town we visited, made a very agreeable impression on
me. Its inhabitants are very open-hearted, warm and kindly. Everything
went well there, and my ballets, _L'Oiseau de Feu_ and _Petroushka_, had
an enormous success. When I visited the town many years later I was
greatly moved at being received by the public as an old friend. It was
quite the reverse in Vienna, of which I retain a somewhat bitter memory.
The hostility with which the orchestra received the music of
_Petroushka_ at rehearsal greatly astonished me. I had not come across
anything like it in any country. I admit that at that time an orchestra
as conservative as that in Vienna might have failed to grasp parts of my
music, but I was far from expecting that its hostility would be carried
to the length of open sabotage at rehearsals and the audible utterance
of such coarse remarks as "_schmutzige Musik_." The entire
administration shared this aversion, which was aimed particularly at the
Prussian comptroller of the Hofoper, for it was he who had engaged
Diaghileff and his company and thereby roused the furious jealousy of
the Imperial Ballet of Vienna. I ought to add that Russians were not
very popular in Austria just then by reason of the somewhat strained
political situation. Still, in spite of the old-fashioned tastes and
habits of the Viennese, the performance of _Petroushka_ passed without
protest, and even had a certain success. I was astonished to find a
comforter in the person of a workman whose job it was to lower and raise
the curtain. Seeing that I was upset by my trouble with the orchestra,
this friendly old man, bewhiskered in the style of Franz Joseph, patted
my shoulder kindly and said: "Don't let's be downhearted. I've been here
for fifty-five years, and it's not the first time that things of that
sort have happened. It was just the same with _Tristan_." I shall have
something more to say about Vienna later, but for the moment let us
return to Clarens.

While putting the finishing touches to the orchestration of the _Sacre_,
I was busy with another composition which was very close to my heart. In
the summer I had read a little anthology of Japanese lyrics--short poems
of a few lines each, selected from the old poets. The impression which
they had made on me was exactly like that made by Japanese paintings and
engravings. The graphic solution of problems of perspective and space
shown by their art incited me to find something analogous in music.
Nothing could have lent itself better to this than the Russian version
of the Japanese poems, owing to the well known fact that Russian verse
allows the tonic accent only. I gave myself up to the task, and
succeeded by a metrical and rhythmic process too complex to be explained

Towards the end of the winter, Diaghileff gave me another commission. He
had decided to give Moussorgsky's _Khovanstchina_ in the next Paris
season. This opera, as everybody knows, had not been quite finished by
the composer, and Diaghileff asked me to take it in hand.
Rimsky-Korsakov had already arranged it in his own manner, and it was in
his version that it had been published and performed in Russia.

Diaghileff was not satisfied with Rimsky-Korsakov's general treatment of
Moussorgsky's work, and began to study the original manuscript of
_Khovanstchina_ with a view to making a new version. He asked me to
undertake the orchestration of such parts as had not been orchestrated
by the author, and to compose a chorus for the finale, for which
Moussorgsky had indicated only the theme--an authentic Russian song.

When I saw how much there was to be done, and still having to finish the
score of the _Sacre_, I asked Diaghileff to divide the work between
myself and Ravel. He willingly consented to this, and Ravel joined me at
Clarens so that we might work together. We agreed that I should
orchestrate two parts of the opera and write the final chorus, while he
undertook the rest. According to Diaghileff's plan, our work was to be
amalgamated with the rest of the score, but unfortunately it made the
mixture even more incongruously heterogeneous than Rimsky-Korsakov's
version, which had been retained in all essentials, the only difference
being a few cuts, a change in the order of certain scenes, and the
substitution of my chorus for his. Apart from the work mentioned above,
I had no share in the arrangement of this version. I have always been
sincerely opposed to the rearrangement by anyone other than the author
himself of work already created, and my opposition is only strengthened
when the original author is an artist as conscious and certain of what
he was doing as Moussorgsky. To my mind that principle is as badly
violated in the Diaghileff compilation as it was in Rimsky-Korsakov's
Meyerbeerization of _Boris Godounov_.

While Ravel was at Clarens I played him my Japanese poems. An epicure
and connoisseur of instrumental jewelry, and quick to discern the
subtleties of writing, he grasped the idea at once and decided to do
something similar. Soon afterwards he played me his delicious _Poèmes de

I have now come to the spring season of 1913 in Paris, when the Russian
Ballet inaugurated the opening of the Théatre des Champs-Elysées. It
began with a revival of _L'Oiseau de Feu_, and the _Sacre du Printemps_
was given on May 28 at the evening performance. The complexity of my
score had demanded a great number of rehearsals, which Monteux had
conducted with his usual skill and attention. As for the actual
performance, I am not in a position to judge, as I left the auditorium
at the first bars of the prelude, which had at once evoked derisive
laughter. I was disgusted. These demonstrations, at first isolated, soon
became general, provoking counter-demonstrations and very quickly
developing into a terrific uproar. During the whole performance I was at
Nijinsky's side in the wings. He was standing on a chair, screaming
"sixteen, seventeen, eighteen"--they had their own method of counting to
keep time. Naturally the poor dancers could hear nothing by reason of
the row in the auditorium and the sound of their own dance steps. I had
to hold Nijinsky by his clothes, for he was furious, and ready to dash
on to the stage at any moment and create a scandal. Diaghileff kept
ordering the electricians to turn the lights on or off, hoping in that
way to put a stop to the noise. That is all I can remember about that
first performance. Oddly enough, at the dress rehearsal, to which we
had, as usual, invited a number of actors, painters, musicians, writers,
and the most cultured representatives of society, everything had gone
off peacefully, and I was very far from expecting such an outburst.

Now, after the lapse of more than twenty years, it is naturally
difficult for me to recall in any detail the choreography of the _Sacre_
without being influenced by the admiration with which it met in the set
known as the _avant-garde_--ready, as always, to welcome as a new
discovery anything that differs, be it ever so little, from the _déjà
vu_. But what struck me then, and still strikes me most, about the
choreography, was and is Nijinsky's lack of consciousness of what he was
doing in creating it. He showed therein his complete inability to accept
and assimilate those revolutionary ideas which Diaghileff had made his
creed, and obstinately and industriously strove to inculcate. What the
choreography expressed was a very labored and barren effort rather than
a plastic realization flowing simply and naturally from what the music
demanded. How far it all was from what I had desired!

In composing the _Sacre_ I had imagined the spectacular part of the
performance as a series of rhythmic mass movements of the greatest
simplicity which would have an instantaneous effect on the audience,
with no superfluous details or complications such as would suggest
effort. The only solo was to be the sacrificial dance at the end of the
piece. The music of that dance, clear and well defined, demanded a
corresponding choreography--simple and easy to understand. But there
again, although he had grasped the dramatic significance of the dance,
Nijinsky was incapable of giving intelligible form to its essence, and
complicated it either by clumsiness or lack of understanding. For it is
undeniably clumsy to slow down the tempo of the music in order to
compose complicated steps which cannot be danced in the tempo
prescribed. Many choreographers have that fault, but I have never known
any who erred in that respect to the same degree as Nijinsky.

In reading what I have written about the _Sacre_, the reader will
perhaps be astonished to notice how little I have said about the music.
The omission is deliberate. It is impossible, after the lapse of twenty
years, to recall what were the feelings which animated me in composing
it. One can recollect facts or incidents with more or less exactitude,
but one cannot reconstitute feelings without the risk of distorting them
under the influence of the many changes that one has meanwhile
undergone. Any account I were to give today of what my feelings were at
that time might prove as inexact and arbitrary as if someone else were
interpreting them. It would be something like an interview with me
unwarrantably signed with my name--something which has, alas! happened
only too often.

One such incident comes to my mind in connection with this very
production. Among the most assiduous onlookers at the rehearsals had
been a certain Ricciotto Canuedo, a charming man, devoted to everything
advanced and up to date. He was at that time publishing a review called
_Montjoie_. When he asked me for an interview, I very willingly granted
it. Unfortunately, it appeared in the form of a pronouncement on the
_Sacre_, at once grandiloquent and naive, and, to my great astonishment,
signed with my name. I could not recognize myself, and was much
disturbed by this distortion of my language and even of my ideas,
especially as the pronouncement was generally regarded as authentic, and
the scandal over the _Sacre_ had noticeably increased the sale of the
review. But I was too ill at the time to be able to set things right.

I did not see the subsequent performances of the _Sacre_, nor could I go
to see _Khovanstchina_ because a few days after the notorious first
night I fell ill with typhoid and spent six weeks in a nursing home.

As for Debussy's _Jeux_, I clearly remember having seen it, but I cannot
be sure whether at the dress rehearsal or on the first night. I very
much like the music, which Debussy had already played to me on the
piano. How well that man played! The animation and vivacity of the score
merited a warmer reception than it got from the public. My mind is a
complete blank with regard to its choreography.

During the long weeks of my illness, I was the subject of the most
lively and touching solicitude on the part of my friends. Debussy, De
Falla, Ravel, Florent Schmitt, and Casella all came to see me
frequently. Diaghileff called nearly every day, though he never came
into my room, so great was his fear of contagion. This fear was almost
pathological, and his friends often chaffed him about it. Maurice Delage
was with me constantly. I was greatly attracted by his buoyant
disposition, and I much appreciated the delicacy and penetration of his
musical feeling, to which his compositions--alas! far too few in
number--bear witness. He was also gifted in many other ways, so that he
was very good company.

On returning to Oustiloug after my illness, I did not feel strong enough
to undertake any important work, but, so that I should not be completely
idle, amused myself with the composition of several small things. I
recall writing during the summer three short pieces for voice and piano,
called _Souvenirs de mon Enfance_, which I dedicated to my children.
They were melodies that I had invented and had taken as themes for
improvisation to amuse my companions in earlier years. I had always
meant to give them a definite form, and took advantage of my leisure to
do so. Some years ago (1923) I made another version of them for a small
orchestral ensemble, amplifying them here and there in accordance with
the orchestral requirements.

Hardly had I got back to Clarens, with the intention of spending the
winter there as usual, when I received from the newly founded Théatre
Libre of Moscow a request to complete the composition of my opera, _Le
Rossignol_. I hesitated. Only the Prologue--that is to say, Act I--was
in existence. It had been written four years earlier, and my musical
language had been appreciably modified since then. I feared that in view
of my new manner the subsequent scenes would clash with that Prologue. I
informed the directors of the Théatre Libre of my misgivings, and
suggested that they should be content with the Prologue alone,
presenting it as an independent little lyrical scene. But they insisted
upon the entire opera in three acts, and ended by persuading me.

As there is no action until the second act, I told myself that it would
not be unreasonable if the music of the Prologue bore a somewhat
different character from that of the rest. And, indeed, the forest, with
its nightingale, the pure soul of the child who falls in love with its
song ... all this gentle poetry of Hans Andersen's could not be
expressed in the same way as the baroque luxury of the Chinese Court,
with its bizarre etiquette, its palace fetes, its thousands of little
bells and lanterns, and the grotesque humming of the mechanical Japanese
nightingale ... in short, all this exotic fantasy obviously demanded a
different musical idiom.

I set to work, and it took me all the winter, but even before I had
finished the score the news reached me that the whole enterprise of the
Théatre Libre of Moscow had collapsed. I could, therefore, dispose of
the opera as I liked, and Diaghileff, who had been chagrined to see me
working for another theatre, jumped at the chance, and decided to put it
on in his next season at the Paris Opera House. It was all the more easy
for him because he was to produce Rimsky-Korsakov's _Le Coq d'Or_, and
therefore already had the necessary singers. Benois created sumptuous
scenery and costumes, and, conducted by Monteux, the opera was performed
with the utmost perfection.

I must go back a little to mention something of great importance to me
that happened before the Paris opera season. I think that it was in the
month of April, 1914, that both the _Sacre_ and _Petroushka_ were played
for the first time at a concert in Paris, Monteux being the conductor.
It was a brilliant renaissance of the _Sacre_ after the Théatre des
Champs-Elysées scandal. The hall was crowded. The audience, with no
scenery to distract them, listened with concentrated attention and
applauded with an enthusiasm I had been far from expecting and which
greatly moved me. Certain critics who had censured the _Sacre_ the year
before now openly admitted their mistake. This conquest of the public
naturally gave me intense and lasting satisfaction.

About this time I made the acquaintance of Ernest Ansermet, conductor of
the orchestra at Montreux, who lived at Clarens, quite close to me. A
friendship quickly sprang up between us, and I remember that it was at
one of his rehearsals that he suggested that I should take the baton and
read my first symphony, which he had included in his program, with the
orchestra. That was my first attempt at conducting.

On my return from Paris I settled in the mountains with my family at
Salvan (Valais). But I soon had to run over to London to be present at
the performance of _Le Rossignol_, which Diaghileff was producing this
time, with Emile Cooper as conductor.

Back again at Salvan, I composed three pieces for string quartet which I
had time to finish before going to make a short stay at Oustiloug and at
Kiev. Meanwhile I had been thinking of a grand _divertissement_, or
rather a cantata depicting peasant nuptials. Among the collections of
Russian folk poems in Kiev I found many bearing on this subject, and
made a selection from them which I took back with me to Switzerland.

On my way from Russia via Warsaw, Berlin, and Basle, I was very
conscious of the tense atmosphere all over central Europe, and I felt
certain that we were on the eve of serious events. A fortnight later war
was declared. As I had been exempted from military service, there was no
need for me to return to Russia, which, though I had no inkling of it, I
was never to see again as I had known it.


My profound emotion on reading the news of war, which aroused patriotic
feelings and a sense of sadness at being so distant from my country,
found some alleviation in the delight with which I steeped myself in
Russian folk poems.

What fascinated me in this verse was not so much the stories, which were
often crude, or the pictures and metaphors, always so deliciously
unexpected, as the sequence of the words and syllables, and the cadence
they create, which produces an effect on one's sensibilities very
closely akin to that of music. For 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, a phenomenon of
nature, etc.... _Expression_ has never been an inherent property of
music. That is by no means the purpose of its existence. If, as is
nearly always the case, music appears to express something, this is only
an illusion and not a reality. It is simply an additional attribute
which, by tacit and inveterate agreement, we have lent it, thrust upon
it, as a label, a convention--in short, an aspect unconsciously or by
force of habit, we have come to confuse with its essential being.

Music is the sole domain in which man realizes the present. By the
imperfection of his nature, man is doomed to submit to the passage of
time--to its categories of past and future--without ever being able to
give substance, and therefore stability, to the category of the present.

The phenomenon of music is given to us with the sole purpose of
establishing an order in things, including, and particularly, the
coordination between _man_ and _time_. To be put into practice, its
indispensable and single requirement is construction. Construction once
completed, this order has been attained, and there is nothing more to be
said. It would be futile to look for, or expect anything else from it.
It is precisely this construction, this achieved order, which produces
in us a unique emotion having nothing in common with our ordinary
sensations and our responses to the impressions of daily life. One could
not better define the sensation produced by music than by saying that it
is identical with that evoked by contemplation of the interplay of
architectural forms. Goethe thoroughly understood that when he called
architecture petrified music.

After this digression, which I felt it wise to interpolate at this
point--but which far from exhausts my reflections on the subject, into
which I shall have occasion to go more deeply--I come back to the
Russian folk poems. I culled a bouquet from among them all, which I
distributed in three different compositions that I wrote one after the
other, elaborating my material for _Les Noces_. They were _Pribaoutki_
(translated by Ramuz under the title _Chansons Plaisantes_), for voice,
with the accompaniment of a small orchestra; then _Les Berceuses du
Chat_, also for voice, accompanied by three clarinets; and, lastly, four
little choruses for women's voices _a capella_.

In the autumn I returned to Clarens, where Ansermet--who had moved to
Lausanne--sublet to me the little house that he had just left, and there
I passed the winter of 1914-1915. I was working at _Les Noces_ the whole
time. Confined to Switzerland after the declaration of war, I formed
there a little circle of friends, the chief of whom were C. F. Ramuz,
the painter R. Auberjonois, the brothers Alexandre and Charles Albert
Cingria, Ernest Ansermet, the brothers Jean and René Mora, Fernant
Chavennes, and Henri Bischoff.

Our removal to the Vaud, where I lived for six years, began an important
period, to which my great friend Ramuz has devoted a book, _Souvenirs
sur Igor Stravinsky_. This volume, to which I refer those interested in
that part of my life, testifies to our deep affection for each other, to
those feelings which each of us found echoed in the other, to the
attachment that we both had for his dear Vaud country that had brought
us together, and to his deep and understanding sympathy.

Hardly had I settled at Clarens when I received a pressing appeal from
Diaghileff to pay him a visit at Florence. He, like myself, was going
through a very difficult time. The war had upset all his plans. The
greater part of his company had dispersed, and it was necessary for him
to arrange re-groupings to enable him to carry on and support himself.
In that painful situation he felt the need for having a friend at hand
to console him, to encourage him, and to help him with advice.

My own situation was no better. I had to make all the arrangements for
my mother's safe return to Russia--she had spent the summer with us--and
for supplying the needs of my wife and four children; and, with the
slender resources which one could get from Russia, the maintenance of
the family became more and more difficult.

Nevertheless, I went to Florence, for I was as anxious as my friend to
share the gloomy thoughts which obsessed us both. After spending a
fortnight there, I returned to Clarens. But in the course of the winter,
my wife's health, which had been greatly tried by her recent
confinement, decided me to get her into mountain air, and, after closing
our house at Clarens, we betook ourselves to Chateau d'Oex for about two

My stay there was broken by another journey to Rome, which I undertook
in response to a new appeal from Diaghileff. It was just at the time of
the terrible earthquake at Avezzano, the repercussions of which we felt
even at Chateau d'Oex. In these circumstances I was a little perturbed
at the thought of leaving my family to go into Italy, where everyone was
still overshadowed by the catastrophe, and apprehensive of further
shocks. All the same, I decided to make the journey.

Diaghileff had taken a furnished apartment in Rome for the winter, and I
joined him there. In my luggage I had three little pieces for piano
duets (with easy second part), which I had just composed, dedicating
them respectively as follows: the March to Alfredo Casella; the Valse to
Erik Satie; and the Polka to Diaghileff. I got him to play the second
part of these pieces, and when we reached the Polka I told him that in
composing it I had thought of him as a circus ringmaster in evening
dress and top hat, cracking his whip and urging on a rider. He was
discountenanced, not quite knowing whether he ought to be offended, but
we had a good laugh over it together in the end.

Diaghileff was just then the center of an extensive circle in Rome.
Among the new acquaintances I made I may mention Gerald Tyrwhitt, who
later became Lord Berners. A great lover of art and a cultured musician,
he became in succession a composer and a painter. Diaghileff later
commissioned him to write the music of the ballet _The Triumph of
Neptune_, which was a great success. I very much enjoyed his company,
his English humor, his kindness, and his charming hospitality. I also
saw Prokofiev, whom Diaghileff had summoned from Russia to discuss the
composition of a ballet he had commissioned. I had already met Prokofiev
in Russia, but during this stay I had an opportunity to enter into
closer relationship with this remarkable musician, whose worth is now
universally recognized.

Having spent a fortnight in Italy discussing various projects with
Diaghileff, I climbed back again to the snows of my Chateau d'Oex. My
family and I were quartered in a hotel, in which it was impossible for
me to compose. I was anxious, therefore, to find a piano in some place
where I could work in peace. I have never been able to compose unless
sure that no one could hear me. A music dealer of whom I made my first
inquiries provided me with a sort of lumber room, full of empty Chocolat
Suchard packing cases, which opened on to a chicken run. It contained a
little upright piano, quite new and out of tune. The cold in this room,
which was devoid of any heating apparatus, was so acute that the piano
strings had succumbed to it. For two days I tried to work there in
overcoat, fur cap, and snowboots, with a rug over my knees. But I could
not go on like that. Finally I found in the village a spacious and
comfortable room in a house belonging to lower middle class folk who
were out all day. I had a piano installed there, and at last could
devote myself to my work. I was busy at the time with two compositions:
_Les Noces_ and the first sketches of a piece which became the _Renard_
suite. The Russian folklore continued to entice me, and its
inspirational ideas were far from exhausted. _Renard_, like _Les Noces_
and the vocal pieces already mentioned, had its origin in these folk
poems, and many pages of this music were composed on the original texts.
The work made good progress, and I returned to Clarens well satisfied
with having brought _Les Noces_ to the point which I had wanted to reach
before the spring.

Once there, I had at once to set about finding some place in which I
could definitely settle myself with my family. I searched the
neighborhood of Lausanne, and my choice fell upon Morges, a little town
on the banks of the Lake of Geneva, and there I passed five years of my

About the same time--that is, in the spring of 1915--Diaghileff came to
see me in Switzerland, and, to my delight, established himself near me
and stayed until the winter. He took Bellerive, a property at Ouchy, and
I hoped and expected that we should often see one another.
Unfortunately, however, my younger daughter fell ill with measles soon
after his arrival, and this prevented me from visiting him for several
weeks, because, as I have already explained, his fear of contagion was
notorious. At Ouchy, he was surrounded by a little group, including the
dancer Massine, the painters Larionov, Mme Goncharova, and Bakst, who
often came over from Geneva; the famous old dancing master Cecchetti,
who was working with Massine; Ansermet, whom Diaghileff had selected as
conductor of the orchestra, and a little troupe of artists he had
managed to collect. Everybody was getting ready for the approaching
season in the United States, for which Diaghileff was then negotiating.

When all danger of contagion had at length vanished, Diaghileff, though
not without misgiving, at last opened his door to me. Then, to
recompense him for the long delay, I played him the first two tableaux
of _Les Noces_. He was so moved, and his enthusiasm seemed so genuine
and touching, that I could not but dedicate the work to him.

Diaghileff had decided that before starting for America he would give a
grand gala performance in the Paris Opera House for the benefit of the
Red Cross. Among other ballets, the program was to include my _Oiseau de
Feu_ and Massine's first choreographic creation, _Le Soleil de Minuit_,
founded on selections from Rimsky-Korsakov's opera, _Snegourotchka_.
Diaghileff had also been asked to give a performance for the Red Cross
at Geneva, and he decided to make the occasion a sort of dress rehearsal
of his new ballet, before going to Paris. He organized a festival of
music and dance at the Geneva Theatre, and Félia Litvinne lent her aid
and opened the matinee by singing the Russian National Anthem. I was to
conduct, for first time in public, selections from _L'Oiseau de Feu_ in
the form of a symphonic suite, and the program included _Carnaval_ and
_Soleil de Minuit_ conducted by Ernest Ansermet. The ballets were given
in costume, but against a black backcloth, the scenery being then in
Paris. It was Ansermet's debut, too, as conductor of the Russian Ballet.

The grand gala in Paris took place soon afterwards, and I went from
Geneva with Diaghileff and the whole company. Paris was gloomy in those
sinister days of my first visit since the declaration of war. But, in
spite of that, the Red Cross grand gala was a triumphant success. It
netted four hundred thousand gold francs, making a record. My debut
before the Paris public as conductor of my _Oiseau_ made the event of
importance to me.

Diaghileff was busy preparing for the trip to America with his company.
As the Metropolitan Opera House, which had made the contract with him
for the New York season, wanted to see me conduct my works, he begged me
to go with him, but I would not risk sailing in the absence of any
definite engagement by the Metropolitan. It was Diaghileff's first trip
to America, and, having an inordinate fear of the sea, he was deeply
moved in taking leave of me. I myself was perturbed about him, because
of the war and the submarine danger.

Before returning to Morges, I stayed a few days more in Paris to see
some of my friends, notably Princess Edmond de Polignac, who always
showed me much kindness. She took advantage of my presence in Paris to
discuss, among other things, a little piece for drawing-room
presentation which she proposed to put on at her house as soon as the
war was over. I suggested _Renard_ to her, which, as I have already
said, I had sketched out at Chateau d'Oex. She was much pleased with the
idea, and I set to work on it as soon as I got back to Morges.

I had a visit shortly afterwards from Nijinsky and his wife, whom I had
not met before. They had just been released from their internment in
Hungary, where the war had caught them, and were in Switzerland on their
way to join the Russian Ballet in New York. Diaghileff had been working
a long time for their liberation, and it had at last been achieved, in
spite of innumerable difficulties which had been overcome only by the
energy and extraordinary persistence of my late friend.

Greatly upset at having no news from America, the war having landed me
in a situation of grave pecuniary difficulties, I asked Nijinsky, on
reaching New York, to insist on my engagement being definitely settled.
I was at that time in great need, and in my ingenuousness even begged
Nijinsky to make his own participation in the performances depend upon
my engagement. Needless to say, whatever course was taken, nothing came
of it. As for Diaghileff, I learned later that he was much distressed at
being unable to get the Metropolitan to engage me, as he had confidently
counted upon it, and it was no less important to him than to me.

So I stayed quietly at Morges, working at _Renard_, for which I had
temporarily set aside _Les Noces_. There was at that time in Geneva a
little restaurant with a small orchestra of string instruments,
including a cymbalon, on which Aladar Racz excelled. He is a Hungarian,
and has since become recognized as a virtuoso. I was captivated by the
instrument which delighted me by its rich, full tone and by the player's
direct contact with the strings through the little sticks held between
his fingers, and even by its trapezoid shape. I wanted to get one, and
begged Racz to help me by making my wish known among his associates in
Geneva, and, in fact, he did tell me of an old Hungarian who sold me one
of these instruments. I carried it off to Morges in glee, and very soon
learned to play it well enough to enable me to compose a part for
cymbalon which I introduced into the little orchestra of _Renard_.

I saw a great deal of Ramuz at this time, as we were working together at
the French translation of the Russian text of my _Pribaoutki_,
_Berceuses du Chat_ and _Renard_. I initiated him into the peculiarities
and subtle shades of the Russian language, and the difficulties
presented by its tonic accent. I was astonished at his insight, his
intuitive ability, and his gift for transferring the spirit and poesy of
the Russian folk poems to a language so remote and different as French.

I was very much wrapped up in this collaboration which cemented still
more firmly the bonds of our friendship and affinity of mind.

I awaited Diaghileff's return from America with impatience and
excitement. He sent me word in March of his arrival in Spain, and I at
once took the train to join him. He told me of the terrible fears which
he had experienced in crossing by an Italian ship, laden with munitions
of war, which had constantly had to change its course by reason of
warnings of submarines. They even had a rehearsal of an alarm, and I
still possess a photograph which Diaghileff gave me in which he is
wearing his lifesaving apparatus.

It was my first visit to Spain, and I was struck by much that I saw
directly I crossed the frontier. First there was the change in railway
gauge, exactly as in Russia. I expected to find different weights and
measures; but, not at all! Although the railways were different, the
metric system prevailed as in the greater part of the globe. At the very
boundary the smell of frying in oil became perceptible. When I reached
Madrid at nine o'clock in the morning I found the whole town still fast
asleep, and I was received at my hotel by the night watchman with
lantern in hand. Yet it was spring. The people rose late, and life was
in full swing after midnight. At a fixed hour every day I heard from my
room the distant sound of a _banda_ playing a _passadoble_, and military
exercises always apparently ended with that sort of music. All the
little characteristics of the Spaniards' daily life pleased me
immensely, and I experienced and savored them with great gusto. They
struck me as marking a vivid change from the monotony of the impressions
generally received in passing from one European country to another, for
the countries of Europe differ far less among themselves than all of
them together do from this land on the edge of our continent, where
already one is in touch with Africa.

"I have been waiting for you like a brother," were Diaghileff's first
words. And, indeed, I felt all the pleasure he was experiencing in
seeing me again, for I was a friend upon whose feelings he could rely
and with whom he could let himself go after his long loneliness.
Diaghileff and the new acquaintances I made in Madrid made my stay there
very agreeable. I treasure my recollections of it all the more because
it was then that I met Mme Eugenia de Errazuris, a Chilean lady who had
preserved almost intact marks of great beauty and perfect distinction.
The sympathy she showed at our first encounter, and which later
developed into unfailing friendship, touched me deeply, and I enjoyed
her subtle and unrivaled understanding of an art which was not that of
her generation.

While I was in Madrid, Diaghileff was producing his ballets at the Royal
Theatre, where _L'Oiseau de Feu_ and _Petroushka_ were among those
given, and where I had the honor of being presented to the King and the
two Queens.

I must record the tremendous impression made on me by Toledo and the
Escorial. My two short excursions to them showed me a Spain for which I
should have searched in vain in historic treatises. My glimpses of these
two places evoked in me visions not so much of the horrors of the
Inquisition or the cruelties of the days of tyranny as a revelation of
the profoundly religious temperament of the people and the mystic fervor
of their Catholicism, so closely akin in its essentials to the religious
feeling and spirit of Russia. I especially noticed the difference which
exists between the Catholicism of Spain and that of Rome, which
impresses all observers by the impassive grandeur of its authority. I
found a logical explanation of that difference in the consideration that
the Catholicism of Rome, as the Metropolis and center of Western
Christianity, must necessarily wear a more austere and immutable aspect
than the Catholicism of the outlying countries.

Do not be astonished if I say nothing about Spanish folk music. I do not
dispute its distinctive character, but for me there was no revelation in
it. That, however, did not prevent me from frequenting taverns to spend
whole evenings in listening to the endless preliminary chords of guitar
playing and to a deep-voiced singer with unending breath trolling forth
her long Arab ballad with a wealth of _fioriture_.

Throughout the whole summer and autumn I was busied in finishing the
music of _Renard_ and in adapting Ramuz's French translation to the
notation. At the same time I wrote some little pieces for piano duets,
with an easy right hand, for amateurs little practiced in the use of the
instrument, the whole burden of the composition being concentrated in
the left-hand part. I enjoyed solving this little problem, which served
as a pendant to the _Trois Pièces Faciles_ (March, Polka, and Valse)
already mentioned, in which I had done exactly the opposite, making the
left hand easy. These little compositions I called _Cinq Pièces Faciles_
(Andante, Napolitana, Espagnola, Balalaïka, Galop). I subsequently
orchestrated them and the three earlier ones, and, after some years'
interval, they appeared in the form of two suites, each containing four
pieces, for a small orchestra, and they are often found in symphony
concert programs. They are sometimes played separately, but I prefer to
conduct the two in sequence, as they are designed to complement one
another. In the same period I composed also the four choruses for
women's voices _a capella_ of which I spoke in connection with Russian
folk poetry, and likewise three little songs for children: _Tilim-Bum_,
which I orchestrated and slightly amplified at a later date; _Chanson de
l'Ours_, and a _Berceuse_ for my little daughter, with my own words. All
these vocal pieces have been translated into French by Ramuz, but the
last two have not been published.

Some of my friends at that time offered to bear the cost of publishing
several of my compositions. I gave the work to Henn, the Geneva concert
agent, and _Renard_, _Pribaoutki_, _Berceuses du Chat_, and the two
groups of easy pieces for duets thus made their appearance in the winter
of 1916-1917. The attention which I had to give to the publication of
this music, the selection of paper, style of printing, pagination,
cover, and so forth, took no little time, but also gave me no little

Just before Christmas I had to interrupt everything I was doing. I
suffered excruciating pain from a severe attack of intercostal
neuralgia, and there were moments when I could scarcely breathe. Dr.
Demieville, a professor at Lausanne, pulled me through, and at the New
Year I began to live again, but the convalescence was a long one. My
legs were almost paralyzed as the result of my illness, and I could not
move without assistance. I shudder even now at the thought of what I had
to endure.

Before I had fully recovered, Diaghileff, having heard that I was ill,
came to see me. In the course of our talks, he proposed that he should
put on _Le Rossignol_ in ballet form, as he had already done with _Le
Coq d'Or_. I rejoined with a counter-proposition. I had been thinking of
making a symphonic poem for the orchestra by combining the music of the
second and third acts of _Le Rossignol_, which were homogeneous, and I
told Diaghileff that I would place that at his disposal if he cared to
make a ballet of it. He warmly welcomed the suggestion, and I adapted a
scenario from Andersen's fairy story to serve the purpose. I at once set
myself to the arrangement of this poem, without altogether setting aside
_Les Noces_, which I had taken up again with the expectation of
finishing it very soon.

Diaghileff had gone to Rome, where he was to have a Russian Ballet
season, and begged me to join him to conduct _L'Oiseau de Feu_ and _Feu
d'Artifice_, for the latter of which he had commissioned the Italian
futurist, Balla, to prepare a special _décor_ with lighting effects.
When I reached Rome in March I found in the apartment Diaghileff had
rented quite a large assembly gathered round his lavishly hospitable
table. There were Ansermet, Bakst, Picasso, whom I then met for the
first time, Cocteau, Balla, Lord Berners, Massine, and many others. The
season at the Costanzi Theatre opened with a gala performance for the
Italian Red Cross, at which I conducted _L'Oiseau de Feu_ and _Feu
d'Artifice_ with the Balla setting.

The February Revolution had just taken place in Russia, the Tsar had
abdicated, and a Provisional Government was in power. In normal times a
Russian gala performance would have begun with the National Anthem, but
at that date nothing could have been more inept than to sing _God Save
the Tsar_. It was necessary to find some substitute for it, and the idea
of opening the performance with a Russian folk song suggested itself to
Diaghileff, who chose the famous _Volga Boat Song_. But the orchestra
would have to play it, and there was no instrumentation; it had not been
scored. Diaghileff besought me to get on with it as quickly as possible,
so I had to sacrifice myself, and throughout the whole night preceding
the gala I sat at the piano in Lord Berners' apartment instrumenting and
scoring the song for the orchestra, dictating it chord by chord, note by
note, to Ansermet, who wrote it down. The orchestra parts were then
quickly copied out, and in that way I was able to hear my own
instrumentation, conducted by Ansermet, at the next morning's rehearsal
of the evening program. The performance in the evening began with the
Italian National Anthem, followed by the _Boat Song_, in place of
Russia's. I conducted _L'Oiseau de Feu_ and _Feu d'Artifice_ with its
_décor_, with special lighting effects.

I can still recall the big reception that Diaghileff gave in the Grand
Hotel in the course of my stay, at which I conducted parts of
_Petroushka_, and at which there was an exhibition of cubist and
futurist pictures by his friends and collaborators.

Diaghileff, Picasso, Massine, and I went on from Rome to Naples.
Ansermet had gone in advance to prepare for the performances that
Diaghileff was to give there.

Instead of the sunshine and azure blue I had expected at Naples, I found
a leaden sky, the summit of Vesuvius being shrouded in immovable and
ominous mist. Still, I retain happy memories of my fortnight in this
town, half Spanish and half reminiscent of the Near East. The company
stayed on to rehearse Massine's second ballet, _The Good-humored
Ladies_, in an appropriate setting with Scarlatti's music, as
orchestrated by Tommasini. Bakst, the designer of the _décor_ and
costumes, had come for the rehearsals. Massine, who from the beginning
had shown himself to be a ballet master of great talent, had created an
admirable choreographic representation of Goldoni's charming story. I
took advantage of my leisure to inspect the town, generally in Picasso's
company. The famous aquarium attracted us more than anything else, and
we spent hours there. We had both been greatly taken by the old
Neapolitan water colors and fairly combed all the little shops and
dealers' establishments in the course of our frequent expeditions.

From Naples I went back to Rome, where I had a delightful week with Lord
Berners. I shall never forget the adventure which later befell me in
crossing the frontier at Chiasso on my return to Switzerland. I was
taking my portrait, which Picasso had just drawn at Rome and given to
me. When the military authorities examined my luggage they found this
drawing, and nothing in the world would induce them to let it pass. They
asked me what it represented, and when I told them that it was my
portrait, drawn by a distinguished artist, they utterly refused to
believe me. "It is not a portrait, but a plan," they said. "Yes, the
plan of my face, but of nothing else," I replied. But all my efforts
failed to convince them, and I had to send the portrait, in Lord
Berners' name, to the British Ambassador in Rome, who later forwarded it
to Paris in the diplomatic bag. The altercation made me miss my
connection, and I had to stay at Chiasso till next day.

Alas! a cruel and unexpected blow was to overwhelm me with sorrow just
after I reached home. An old friend of ours, who had entered my parents'
service before I was born and had looked after me in my earliest days, a
friend to whom I was closely attached and whom I loved as a second
mother, was then living with us at Morges, as I had made her come to us
at the beginning of the war. Not long after my return, I lunched with
Ramuz at his house in Lausanne and on returning home in his company I
noticed a stranger in tail coat and top hat in my garden. Surprised, I
asked him what he wanted. "It appears that there has been a death in the
house," he said. That was how I learned of the loss that had befallen
me. In the space of a few short hours the bursting of a blood vessel had
carried off my old Bertha. There had not even been time to warn me at

Several weeks went by in sorrow before I could resume my work. Change of
scene put me on my feet again--we went into the mountains for the
summer, to Diablerets. But I had scarcely got back to work when I had
the shock of a new grief. A telegram from Russia informed me that my
brother, in the army on the Roumanian front, had just succumbed to
typhus. I had not seen him for a long time, as he had been living in
Russia and I abroad, but, though our lives had been very diverse, I had
remained deeply attached to him, and the news of his death brought me
acute grief.

During this difficult time I was fortunately able to find some
distraction in the frequent visits of such friends as Ramuz, Berners,
Diaghileff, and Ansermet. I continued working at the last scene of _Les
Noces_ during the summer, and I finished a piece for the pianola. Many
of the musicians who had preceded me in visiting Spain had, on their
return, put their impressions on record in works devoted to the music
they had heard there, Glinka having far outshone the rest with his
incomparable _La Jota Aragonaise_ and _Une Nuit à Madrid_. It was
probably in order to conform to this custom that I, too, paid tribute to
it. The whimsicalities of the unexpected melodies of the mechanical
pianos and rattletrap orchestrinas of the Madrid streets and the little
night taverns served as theme for this piece, which I wrote expressly
for the pianola, and which was published as a roll by the London Aeolian
Company. Subsequently, I orchestrated this piece, which was called
_Madrid_, and formed part of my _Quatre Etudes pour Orchestre_, the
others being the three pieces originally written as quartets in 1914.


This period, the end of 1917, was one of the hardest I have ever
experienced. Overwhelmed by the successive bereavements that I had
suffered, I was now also in a position of the utmost pecuniary
difficulty. The Communist Revolution, which had just triumphed in
Russia, deprived me of the last resources which had still from time to
time been reaching me from my country, and I found myself, so to speak,
face to face with nothing, in a foreign land and right in the middle of
the war.

It was imperative to find some way of ensuring a tolerable existence for
my family. My only consolation was to see that I was not alone in
suffering from these circumstances. My friends Ramuz, Ansermet, and many
others were all in equally straitened circumstances. We often met and
sought feverishly for some means of escape from this alarming situation.
It was in these talks that Ramuz and I got hold of the idea of creating
a sort of little traveling theatre, easy to transport from place to
place and to show in even small localities. But for that we had to have
funds, and these were absolutely lacking. We discussed this mad
enterprise with Ansermet, who was to become its orchestra leader, and
with Auberjonois, whose province was to be the _décor_ and costumes. We
elaborated our project to the last detail, even to the itinerary of the
tour, and all this on empty pockets. We had to find a wealthy patron or
a group who could be persuaded to interest themselves in our scheme. It
was, alas! no easy matter. Refusals not always polite, but always
categoric, greeted us every time. At last, however, we had the good
fortune to meet someone who not only promised to collect the requisite
capital, but entered into our plan with cordiality and sympathetic
encouragement. It was M. Werner Reinhart of Winterthur, famous for his
broad intellectual culture and the generous support that he and his
brothers extended to the arts and to artists.

Under this patronage, we set ourselves to work. Afanasyev's famous
collection of Russian tales, in which I was then deeply absorbed,
provided me with the subject of our performance. I introduced them to
Ramuz, who was very responsive to Russian folklore, and immediately
shared my enthusiasm. For the purpose of our theatre we were
particularly drawn to the cycle of legends dealing with the adventures
of the soldier who deserted and the Devil who inexorably comes to carry
off his soul. This cycle was based on folk stories of a cruel period of
enforced recruitment under Nicholas I, a period which also produced many
songs known as _Rekroutskia_, which expatiate in verse on the tears and
lamentations of women robbed of their sons or sweethearts.

Although the character of their subject is specifically Russian, these
songs depict situations and sentiments and unfold a moral so common to
the human race as to make an international appeal. It was this
essentially human aspect of the tragic story of the soldier destined to
become the prey of the Devil that attracted Ramuz and myself.

So we worked at our task with great zest, reminding ourselves frequently
of the modest means at our disposal to carry it to completion. I knew
only too well that so far as the music was concerned I should have to be
content with a very restricted orchestra. The easiest solution would
have been to use some such polyphonic instrument as the piano or
harmonium. The latter was out of the question, chiefly because of its
dynamic poverty, due to the complete absence of accents. Though the
piano has polyphonic qualities infinitely more varied, and offers many
particularly dynamic possibilities, I had to avoid it for two reasons:
either my score would have seemed like an arrangement for the piano, and
that would have given evidence of a certain lack of financial means,
which would not have been at all in keeping with our intentions, or I
should have had to use it as a solo instrument, exploiting every
possibility of its technique. In other words, I should have had to be
specially careful about the "pianism" of my score, and make it into a
vehicle of virtuosity, in order to justify my choice of medium. So there
was nothing for it but to decide on a group of instruments, a selection
which would include the most representative types, in treble and bass,
of the instrumental families: for the strings, the violin and the double
bass; for the wood, the clarinet, because it has the biggest compass,
and the bassoon; for the brass, trumpet and trombone, and, finally, the
percussion manipulated by only one musician, the whole, of course, under
a conductor. Another consideration which made this idea particularly
attractive to me was the interest afforded to the spectator by being
able to see these instrumentalists each playing his own part in the
ensemble. I have always had a horror of listening to music with my eyes
shut, with nothing for them to do. The sight of the gestures and
movements of the various parts of the body producing the music is
fundamentally necessary if it is to be grasped in all its fullness. All
music created or composed demands some exteriorization for the
perception of the listener. In other words, it must have an
intermediary, an executant. That being an essential condition, without
which music cannot wholly reach us, why wish to ignore it, or try to do
so--why shut the eyes to this fact which is inherent in the very nature
of musical art? Obviously one frequently prefers to turn away one's
eyes, or even close them, when the superfluity of the player's
gesticulations prevents the concentration of one's faculties of hearing.
But if the player's movements are evoked solely by the exigencies of the
music, and do not tend to make an impression on the listener by
extramusical devices, why not follow with the eye such movements as
those of the drummer, the violinist, or the trombonist, which facilitate
one's auditory perceptions? As a matter of fact, those who maintain that
they only enjoy music to the full with their eyes shut do not hear
better than when they have them open, but the absence of visual
distractions enables them to abandon themselves to the reveries induced
by the lullaby of its sounds, and that is really what they prefer to the
music itself.

These ideas induced me to have my little orchestra well in evidence when
planning _L'Histoire d'un Soldat_. It was to be on one side of the
stage, and a small dais for the reader on the other. This arrangement
established the connection between the three elements of the piece which
by their close cooperation were to form a unity: in the center, the
stage and the actors; on one side of them the music, and, on the other,
the reader. Our idea was that the three elements should sometimes take
turns as soloists and sometimes combine as an ensemble.

We worked hard at _L'Histoire d'un Soldat_ during all the early part of
1918, as we intended to produce it in the summer. My uninterrupted
collaboration with Ramuz was the more precious to me because our
friendship, growing closer and closer, helped me to bear the difficult
times through which I was living, sickened and, as a patriot,
desperately humiliated, as I was by the monstrous Peace of
Brest-Litovsk. When we had finished writing the _Soldat_, a lively and
amusing time ensued. We had to arrange for its staging, and for that we
had first of all to find actors. By good luck it happened that George
and Ludmila Pitoëff were at Geneva just then, and lent us their valuable
assistance; he as the Devil in his dancing scenes, and she as the
Princess. Two more actors were needed--for the role of the Soldier and
of the Devil where he was only acting. We required also a reader, and we
found all three among the Lausanne University students. Gabriel Rossel
took the part of the Soldier, Jean Villard that of the Devil, and the
young geologist, Elie Gagnebin, became the reader.

After a great many rehearsals for the actors, for the musicians, and for
the Princess' dances, which Mme Pitoëff and I evolved together, we
reached the moment to which we had so eagerly looked forward, and on
September 28, 1918, the first performance was given--at the Lausanne

I had always been a sincere admirer of René Auberjonois' drawing and
painting, but I had not expected that he would give proof of such subtle
imagination and such complete mastery as he did in the scenery and
costumes and the whole artistry of his setting. Among our other
collaborators I had had the good fortune to discover one who later
became not only a most faithful and devoted friend, but also one of the
most reliable and understanding executants of my compositions: I mean

I had already recommended him to Diaghileff to take the place of Pierre
Monteux, who, greatly to our regret, had had to leave us to take up the
direction of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and I valued very highly his
admirable gifts of musicianship, the firmness of his conducting, and his
broad general culture, but up to that time I had not been able to form a
definite opinion of him as conductor of my own works.

He was frequently absent, and it was, therefore, only rarely and by
chance that I had had any opportunity of hearing him conduct my music;
and the few isolated renderings I had heard, good though they were, had
not been sufficient to show me what an admirable conductor he was to
become, and how faithfully he could transmit my musical thought to the
public, without ever falsifying it by personal or arbitrary
interpretation. For, as I have already said, music should be transmitted
and not interpreted, because interpretation reveals the personality of
the interpreter rather than that of the author, and who can guarantee
that such an executant will reflect the author's vision without

An executant's talent lies precisely in his faculty for seeing what is
actually in the score, and certainly not in a determination to find
there what he would like to find. This is Ansermet's greatest and most
precious quality, and it particularly revealed itself while we were
studying the score of the _Soldat_. From that moment dates an
intellectual understanding between us which time has only increased and

His reputation as a perfect executant of my works is well established,
but I have always been astonished that many apparently cultured people
who admire his execution of contemporary music, do not pay enough
attention to the way in which he renders the works of days gone by.
Ansermet is one of the conductors who emphatically confirm my
long-standing conviction that it is impossible for anyone to grasp fully
the art of a bygone period, to penetrate beneath the obsolete form and
discern the author's meaning in a language no longer spoken, unless he
has a comprehensive and lively feeling for the present, and unless he
consciously participates in the life around him.

For it is only those who are essentially alive who can discover the real
life of those who are "dead." That is why, even from a pedagogical point
of view, I think that it would be wiser to begin the education of a
pupil by first giving him a knowledge of what is, and only then tracing
history backward, step by step, to what has been.

Frankly, I have but little confidence in those who pose as refined
connoisseurs and passionate admirers of the great pontiffs of
art--honored by several stars in the guidebooks or by a portrait,
usually quite unrecognizable, in illustrated encyclopedias--but who know
nothing of the art of their own times. Should any consideration at all
be given to those who go into raptures over great names but whose
attitude, when confronted with contemporary works, is one of bored
indifference, or the display of a marked preference for the mediocre and
the commonplace?

Ansermet's merit lies precisely in his ability to reveal the
relationship between the music of today and that of the past by purely
musical methods. Knowing, as he does to perfection, the musical language
of our own times, and, on the other hand, playing a large number of old,
classical scores, he soon perceived that the authors of all periods were
confronted by the solution of problems which were, above all,
specifically musical. That is his rare merit, and that explains his
vital contact with the musical literature of the most diverse periods.

With regard to technique in the true sense of the word, to give a
rendering of the _Soldat_ was a brilliant opportunity for Ansermet to
display his mastery. For with an orchestra of only seven musicians, all
playing as soloists, there could be no question of fooling the public by
the dynamic effects with which we were all familiar and which are all
too easy; it was necessary not only to reach a meticulous perfection and
precision of execution, but to sustain it without ever faltering for a
moment, because, with so small a number of instruments, it would have
been impossible to conceal what an adroit conductor could have made to
pass unnoticed in a large orchestra.

Taking all these things into consideration, the first performance of the
_Soldat_ completely satisfied me. Nor was this so from the point of view
of music only. It was a great success as a whole, thanks to careful
execution, setting, and perfect interpretation. The true note was struck
then, but unfortunately I have never since seen a performance of the
_Soldat_ that has satisfied me to the same degree. I have kept a special
place in my memory for that performance, and I am grateful to my friends
and collaborators, as well as to Werner Reinhart, who, having been
unable to find any other backers, generously financed the whole
enterprise himself. As a token of my gratitude and friendship, I wrote
for, and dedicated to, him three pieces for clarinet solo, he being
familiar with that instrument and liking to play it among his intimates.

As I have already indicated, we had no intention of restricting the
_Soldat_ to one performance. We had much more extensive plans, and meant
to go further afield in Switzerland with our traveling theatre. But,
alas! we had reckoned without the Spanish influenza which was raging all
over Europe at that time and did not spare us. One after another we all
fell victims to it; we, our families, and even the agents who were to
have taken charge of our tour. All our beautiful dreams faded away.

Before talking of my return to life after this long and depressing
illness, I must go back a little to mention a work which I composed
directly after finishing the score of the _Soldat_. Its dimensions are
modest, but it is indicative of the passion I felt at that time for
jazz, which burst into life so suddenly when the war ended. At my
request, a whole pile of this music was sent to me, enchanting me by its
truly popular appeal, its freshness, and the novel rhythm which so
distinctly revealed its Negro origin. These impressions suggested the
idea of creating a composite portrait of this new dance music, giving
the creation the importance of a concert piece, as, in the past, the
composers of their periods had done for the minuet, the waltz, the
mazurka, etc. So I composed my _Ragtime_ for eleven instruments, wind,
string, percussion, and a Hungarian cymbalon. Some years later, I
conducted it myself at its first audition at one of Koussevitsky's
concerts at the Paris Opera House.

I felt so weak after my long bout with influenza that I found it
impossible at the moment to undertake anything at all fatiguing, and I
therefore occupied myself with work that I imagined would not overtax my
strength. I had long toyed with the idea of arranging certain fragments
of _L'Oiseau de Feu_ in the form of a suite, but for a much smaller
orchestra, in order to facilitate its production by the many orchestral
societies which, though wishing to include that work in their programs,
were frequently deterred by difficulties of a purely material nature. In
the earlier suite, which I had arranged shortly after the composition of
the ballet, I had retained an orchestra of the same size as the
original, and the various societies which organized concerts rarely had
such large ensembles at their disposal. In this second version I added
certain portions and cut out others which had been in the first, and I
considerably decreased the orchestra without upsetting the equilibrium
of the instrumental groups, so as to reduce the number needed for its
performance to about sixty musicians.

As the work progressed, I saw that my task was by no means so simple as
I had imagined, and it took six months to complete it.

During the winter I made the acquaintance of a Croat singer, Mme Maja de
Strozzi-Pecic, who had a beautiful soprano voice. She asked me to write
something for her, and I composed _Four Russian Songs_ on folk poems
that Ramuz translated for me.

I went to Paris in the early spring on a short visit, and there I met
Diaghileff, whom I had not seen for more than a year.

The Peace of Brest-Litovsk had placed him, as it did so many of his
compatriots, in a very awkward position. It had found him and his
company in Spain, and there they were, so to speak, shut up, because
everywhere Russians were, one and all, regarded as undesirable, and
innumerable difficulties were made whenever they wished to travel from
one country to another.

Having made an engagement with the London Coliseum, Diaghileff, after a
great deal of trouble, did finally manage to get permission for himself
and the whole company to go to London via France.

When I saw him in Paris, I naturally told him about the _Soldat_, and
the pleasure that its success had given me, but he did not evince the
least interest. I knew him too well to be surprised: he was incredibly
jealous about his friends and collaborators, especially those he most
esteemed. He simply would not recognize their right to work apart from
him and his undertakings. He could not help it; he regarded their action
as a breach of faith. He even found it difficult to tolerate my
appearance at concerts, whether as conductor or pianist, though that
obviously had nothing whatever to do with the theatre. Now that he is
dead, it all seems rather touching, and it has left no trace of
bitterness; but when I tried during his lifetime to get him to share in
my enjoyment of successes which I had made without his participation,
and encountered only his obvious indifference, or even hostility, it
hurt me; I was repelled, and I suffered acutely. It was as though a
friend's door had remained tightly shut after I had knocked at it. All
this happened when the question of the _Soldat_ arose, and a certain
coolness between us ensued, but it did not last long.

While I was in Paris, Diaghileff used all his diplomatic talents to
entice me--the lost sheep, so to speak--back into the fold of the
Russian Ballet. In order to distract me from the unfortunate _Soldat_,
he talked with exaggerated enthusiasm about his plan to put on _Le Chant
du Rossignol_, with scenery and costumes by Henri Matisse and
choreography by Massine. But I was not taken with the idea, because,
despite the fact that the thought of collaborating with a great artist
like Matisse and such a choreographer as Massine was very alluring, I
had destined _Le Chant du Rossignol_ for the concert platform, and a
choreographic rendering seemed to me to be quite unnecessary. Its subtle
and meticulous writing and its somewhat static character would not have
lent themselves to stage action and the movements of dancing. But
another proposal by Diaghileff did very greatly tempt me.

The success of _The Good-humored Ladies_, with Domenico Scarlatti's
music, had suggested the idea of producing something to the music of
another illustrious Italian, Pergolesi, whom, as he knew, I liked and
admired immensely. In his visits to Italy, Diaghileff had gone through a
number of this master's unfinished manuscripts that he discovered in
various Italian conservatoires, copies of which he had had made for him.
He later completed the collection with what he found in the libraries of
London. There was a very considerable amount of material, which
Diaghileff showed to me, urging that I should seek my inspiration in it
and compose the music for a ballet, the subject of which was to be taken
from a collection containing various versions of the amorous adventures
of Pulcinella.

I have always been enchanted by Pergolesi's Neapolitan music, so
entirely of the people and yet so exotic in its Spanish character. The
proposal that I should work with Picasso, who was to do the scenery and
costumes and whose art was particularly near and dear to me,
recollections of our walks together and the impressions of Naples we had
shared, the great pleasure I had experienced from Massine's choreography
in _The Good-humored Ladies_--all this combined to overcome my
reluctance. For it was a delicate task to breathe new life into
scattered fragments and to create a whole from the isolated pages of a
musician for whom I felt a special liking and tenderness.

Before attempting a task so arduous, I had to find an answer to a
question of the greatest importance by which I found myself faced.
Should my line of action with regard to Pergolesi be dominated by my
love or by my respect for his music? Is it love or respect that urges us
to possess a woman? Is it not by love alone that we succeed in
penetrating to the very essence of a being? But, then, does love
diminish respect? Respect alone remains barren, and can never serve as a
productive or creative factor. In order to create there must be a
dynamic force, and what force is more potent than love? To me it seems
that to ask the question is to answer it.

I do not want the reader to think that in writing this I am trying to
exonerate myself from the absurd accusations of sacrilege leveled
against me. I am only too familiar with the mentality of those curators
and archivists of music who jealously guard the intangibility of relics
at which they never so much as look, while resenting any attempt on the
part of others to resuscitate these treasures which they themselves
regard as dead and sacrosanct. Not only is my conscience clear of having
committed sacrilege, but, so far as I can see, my attitude towards
Pergolesi is the only one that can usefully be taken up with regard to
the music of bygone times.

Instead of starting work on the _Pulcinella_ directly, I returned to
Morges, and finished a piano piece I had begun some time before with
Artur Rubinstein and his strong, agile, clever fingers in mind. I
dedicated this _Piano Rag Music_ to him. I was inspired by the same
ideas, and my aim was the same, as in _Ragtime_, but in this case I
stressed the percussion possibilities of the piano. What fascinated me
most of all in the work was that the different rhythmic episodes were
dictated by the fingers themselves. My own fingers seemed to enjoy it so
much that I began to practice the piece; not that I wanted to play it in
public--my pianistic repertoire even today is too limited to fill a
recital program--but simply for my personal satisfaction. Fingers are
not to be despised: they are great inspirers, and, in contact with a
musical instrument, often give birth to subconscious ideas which might
otherwise never come to life. During the following months I gave myself
up entirely to _Pulcinella_, and the work filled me with joy. The
material I had at my disposal--numerous fragments and shreds of
compositions either unfinished or merely outlined, which by good fortune
had eluded filtering academic editors--made me appreciate more and more
the true nature of Pergolesi while discerning ever more clearly the
closeness of my mental and, so to speak, sensory kinship with him.

Frequent conferences with Diaghileff, Picasso, and Massine were
necessitated by the task before me--which was to write a ballet for a
definite scenario, with scenes differing in character but following each
other in ordered sequence. I therefore had to go to Paris from time to
time in order to settle every detail. Our conferences were very often
far from peaceable; frequent disagreements arose, and our meetings
occasionally ended in stormy scenes.

Sometimes the costumes failed to come up to Diaghileff's expectations;
sometimes my orchestration disappointed him. Massine composed his
choreography from a piano arrangement made from the orchestral score and
sent piecemeal to him by me as I finished each part. As a result of
this, it often happened that when I was shown certain steps and
movements that had been decided upon I saw to my horror that in
character and importance they in nowise corresponded to the very modest
possibilities of my small chamber orchestra. They had wanted, and looked
for, something quite different from my score, something it could not
give. The choreography had, therefore, to be altered and adapted to the
volume of my music, and that caused them no little annoyance, though
they realized that there was no other solution.

In the autumn, Werner Reinhart was good enough to organize some concerts
in Geneva, Lausanne, and Zurich to let the Swiss public hear something
of my chamber music, such as the suite _L'Histoire d'un Soldat_ for
piano, violin, and clarinet; the three solo pieces for clarinet only;
the two small groups of songs _Berceuses du Chat_ and _Pribaoutki_;
_Ragtime_, arranged as a piano solo; _Piano Rag Music_; and finally, the
eight easy duets for the piano. My executants were Mlle. Tatianova,
vocalist; José Iturbi, pianist; José Porta, violinist; and Edmond
Allegra, clarinet. Iturbi and I played the duets.

I ought to mention here a concert which had a certain importance for me
in view of my new orchestral experiments. On December 6 a first
performance of _Le Chant du Rossignol_ was given at Geneva at one of the
subscription concerts of the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande under the
direction of Ernest Ansermet. I say new experiment because, in this
symphonic poem, written for an orchestra of ordinary size, I treated the
latter more as a chamber orchestra, and laid stress on the _concertante_
side, not only of the various solo instruments, but also gave this role
to whole groups of instruments. This orchestral treatment was well
adapted to music full of cadenzas, vocalises, and melismata of all
kinds, and in which _tutti_ were the exception. I enjoyed the
performance greatly, for the rendering was careful and highly finished.
I reached the conclusion--very regretfully, since I was the author of
many works for the theatre--that a perfect rendering can be achieved
only in the concert hall, because the stage presents a combination of
several elements upon which the music has often to depend, so that it
cannot rely upon the exclusive consideration which it receives at a
concert. I was confirmed in this view when two months later, under the
direction of the same conductor, Ansermet, _Le Chant du Rossignol_ was
given as a ballet by Diaghileff at the Paris Opera.

All the early part of 1920 was filled with excitement, feverish
activity, and continual travel necessitated by preparations for the
performance of _Pulcinella_, which was given at the Opera on May 15. I
had to go to and fro between Morges and Paris, where my presence was
constantly required either to hear singers and rehearse them, or to
follow closely the choreographic rehearsals in order to spare Massine
unpleasant misunderstandings of the sort already described.

Although all this was very tiring, I enjoyed taking part in a task which
ended in a real success. _Pulcinella_ is one of those productions--and
they are rare--where everything harmonizes, where all the
elements--subject, music, dancing, and artistic setting--form a coherent
and homogeneous whole. As for the choreography, with the possible
exception of a few episodes that it had not been possible to change, it
is one of Massine's finest creations, so fully has he assimilated the
spirit of the Neapolitan theatre. In addition, his own performance in
the title role was above all praise. As for Picasso, he worked miracles,
and I find it difficult to decide what was most enchanting--the
coloring, the design, or the amazing inventiveness of this remarkable

I had expected a hostile reception from those who have constituted
themselves the custodians of scholastic tradition, and was not
astonished by their reprobation. I had formed the habit of disregarding
this equivocal musical group whose authority was more than doubtful. All
the more precious was the attitude of those who were able to discern in
my score something better than a more or less adroit eighteenth-century

As, with the return of peace, life resumed its activities in the whole
of Europe, particularly in France, I realized that I could no longer
remain in the involuntary isolation to which the war had confined me. I
therefore resolved to take my lares and penates to France, where, at the
moment, the pulse of the world was throbbing most strongly. It was with
a full heart that I felt constrained to bid adieu to the Vaud country,
which had endeared itself to me by the precious friendships found in it,
and which had helped me bear the severe trials that I had had to undergo
during the war years. I shall always keep in my heart a feeling of
affection for it.

In June I left Morges with my family and settled in France. We spent the
summer in Brittany. It was an important moment in my life, for it closed
one period of it. The ensuing period takes on a wider aspect, thanks to
the fact that, while still continuing my creative work, I became also
the executant of my own music. I shall have occasion to speak of this
new activity, and the reflections to which it gives rise, in the second
part of my _chronique_, where I shall record my life from the time when
I settled in France, which had become my second motherland.

TWO: Composer and Performer


When I left Switzerland to settle in France I brought away some sketches
of an idea suggested by M. Alfred Pochon, leader of the Flonzaley String
Quartet. The Flonzaley, a group of Vaudois musicians, taking their name
from that canton, performed in the United States for a considerable
time. M. Pochon wished to introduce a contemporary work into their
almost exclusively classical repertoire, and asked me to write them an
ensemble piece, in form and length of my own choosing, to appear in the
programs of their numerous tours.

So it was for them that I composed my _Concertino_, a piece in one
single movement, treated in the form of a free sonata allegro with a
definitely _concertante_ part for first violin, and this, on account of
its limited dimensions, led me to give it the diminutive title:
_Concertino_ (_piccolo concerto_).

During my stay at Carantec, in Brittany, I was also engaged on another
work, which originated as follows:

The _Revue Musicale_ proposed to issue a number devoted to the memory of
Debussy, containing several pages of music, each specially written for
the occasion by one of the great man's surviving admirers, and I was
among those asked to contribute.

The composition of this page, however, made me feel bound to give rein
to the development of a new phase of musical thought conceived under the
influence of the work itself and the solemnity of the circumstances that
had led to it.

I began at the end, and wrote a choral piece which later on became the
final section of my _Symphonies pour Instruments à Vent_, dedicated to
the memory of Claude Achille Debussy. This I gave to the _Revue
Musicale_ in a version arranged for the pianoforte.

It was while still in Switzerland that I heard of Debussy's death. When
I had last seen him he was already very weak, and I realized that he
must soon leave us. Subsequently I had received more reassuring accounts
of him, so that the news of his death came upon me rather unexpectedly.

I was sincerely attached to him as a man, and I grieved not only at the
loss of one whose great friendship had been marked with unfailing
kindness towards myself and my work, but at the passing of an artist
who, in spite of maturity and health already hopelessly undermined, had
still been able to retain his creative powers to the full, and whose
musical genius had been in no way impaired throughout the whole period
of his activity.

While composing my _Symphonies_ I naturally had in mind the man to whom
I wished to dedicate them. I used to wonder what impression my music
would have made on him, and what his reactions would have been. I had a
distinct feeling that he would have been rather disconcerted by my
musical idiom, as he was, I remember, by my _Roi des Etoiles_, also
dedicated to him, when we played it together as a duet for one
pianoforte. Moreover, this piece had been composed at the time of the
_Sacre_, about seven years before the _Symphonies_. I had certainly
experienced considerable evolution since then, and not in the direction
pointed to by the tendencies of the Debussyist period. But this
supposition, I will even say this certainty, that my music would have
remained foreign to him, was far from discouraging me.

According to my idea, the homage that I intended to pay to the memory of
the great musician ought not to be inspired by his musical thought; on
the contrary, I desired rather to express myself in a language which
should be essentially my own.

It is in the nature of things--and it is this which determines the
uninterrupted march of evolution in art quite as much as in other
branches of human activity--that epochs which immediately precede us are
temporarily farther away from us than others which are more remote in
time. That is why I do not think at the moment of writing (1935) I could
form a just appreciation of Debussy. It is clear that his aesthetic, and
that of his period, could not nowadays stimulate my appetite or provide
food for my musical thought, though that in nowise prevents me from
recognizing his outstanding personality or from drawing a distinction
between him and his numerous satellites.

I finished the _Symphonies_ at Garches, where I spent the winter of
1920-1921. At the same time I wrote a group of little pieces for
children which were published under the title _Les Cinq Doigts_. In
these eight pieces, which are very easy, the five fingers of the right
hand, once on the keys, remain in the same place sometimes even for the
whole length of the piece, while the left hand, which is destined to
accompany the melody, executes a pattern, either harmonic or
contrapuntal, of the utmost simplicity. I found it rather amusing, with
these very much restricted means, to try to awaken in the child a taste
for melodic design in its combinations with a rudimentary accompaniment.

Diaghileff was just then giving a new production of _Le Sacre du
Printemps_ at the Théatre des Champs-Elysées.

Nijinsky's absence--he had been interned for some years--and the
impossibility of remembering his overburdened, complicated, and confused
choreography, gave us the idea of re-creating it in a more living form,
and the work was entrusted to Léonide Massine.

The young ballet master accomplished his task with unquestionable

He certainly put order and understanding into his dance compositions.
There were even moments of great beauty in the group movements when the
plastic expression was in perfect accord with the music, and, above all,
in the sacrificial dance so brilliantly executed by Lydia Sokolova that
it still lives in the memory of everyone who saw it. I must say,
however, that, notwithstanding its striking qualities and the fact that
the new production flowed out of the music and was not, as the first had
been, imposed on it, Massine's composition had in places something
forced and artificial about it. This defect frequently arises, as
choreographers are fond of cutting up a rhythmic episode of the music
into fragments, of working up each fragment separately, and then
sticking the fragments together. By reason of this dissection, the
choreographic line, which should coincide with that of the music, rarely
does so, and the results are deplorable; the choreographer can never by
such methods obtain a plastic rendering of the musical phrase. In
putting together these small units (choreographical bars) he obtains, it
is true, a total which agrees with the length of a given musical
fragment, but he achieves nothing more, and the music is not adequately
represented by a mere addition sum, but demands from choreography an
organic equivalent of its own proportions. Moreover, this procedure on
the part of the choreographer reacts unfavorably on the music itself,
preventing the listener from recognizing the musical fragment
choreographed. I speak from experience, because my music has frequently
suffered from this deplorable method.

As Diaghileff's affairs were at this time in very low water financially,
the reproduction of the _Sacre_ had been made possible only by the
backing of his friends. I should like especially to mention Mlle
Gabrielle Chanel, who not only generously came to the assistance of the
venture, but took an active part in the production by arranging to have
the costumes made in her world-famous dressmaking establishment.

In the course of this Diaghileff season at the Théatre des
Champs-Elysées I at last had an opportunity of seeing _Parade_, the work
of Cocteau, Satie, and Picasso, the production of which in 1917 had been
the subject of so much discussion. Although I had played the music on
the piano, seen photographs of the scenery and costumes, and was
intimately acquainted with the scenario, the performance gave me the
impression of freshness and real originality. _Parade_ confirmed me
still further in my conviction of Satie's merit in the part he had
played in French music by opposing to the vagueness of a decrepit
impressionism a precise and firm language stripped of all pictorial

In the spring of 1921 a Paris music hall asked me if I could let them
have a few pages of incidental music for a little sketch, within the
range of their audience. It amused me to try my hand at that sort of
thing, and I therefore orchestrated four pieces taken from my collection
of _Easy Duets_. Although my orchestra was more than modest, the
composition as I wrote it was given only at the first few performances.
When I went to see the sketch again a month later I found that there was
but little left of what I had written. Everything was completely
muddled; some instruments were lacking or had been replaced by others,
and the music itself as executed by this pitiful band had become
unrecognizable. It was a good lesson. One must never risk entrusting
honest work to that sort of establishment in which music is certain to
be mutilated to suit the show and its patrons.

Diaghileff was engaged for a season at the Royal Theatre, Madrid, in the
spring, and asked me to go with him to conduct _Petroushka_, the King's
favorite ballet. Alfonso and the two Queens came to all the
performances, and, as usual, enjoyed them. They were present also at an
informal party that the management of the Royal Theatre gave in our
honor, and to which some of the artists of our company were also
invited. Diaghileff and I decided to spend Easter at Seville, with its
famous processions of _la Semana Santa_. Throughout those seven days we
mingled with the crowds. It is astonishing that these fetes, half pagan,
half Christian, and consecrated by time, have lost nothing of their
freshness and vitality--notwithstanding the travel agencies and all the
guides who are beyond price but have to be paid, and notwithstanding,
moreover, the particular kind of publicity which has been their fate.

The spring and summer of 1921 were very much disturbed. First there was
Diaghileff's Paris season, with the new production of _Le Sacre_ and the
creation of _Bouffon_ (_Chout_), Prokofiev's masterpiece, which
unfortunately one never hears now in its entirety. Then came my
prolonged stay in London, where _Le Sacre_ was given first at a concert
conducted by Eugene Goossens and, later, at the theatre by the
Diaghileff company.

Though it was terribly hot in London that summer, the town was very
full, and I was constantly surrounded by friends and newly made
acquaintances. It was one continuous round of lunches, teas, receptions,
and weekends which left me no time to myself.

I cannot pass over in silence an event in this London visit which caused
me a good deal of distress. Koussevitsky was giving a concert, and asked
me to entrust him with the first performance of my _Symphonies
d'Instruments à Vent à la Mémoire de Debussy_. I did not, and indeed I
could not, count on any immediate success for this work. It is devoid of
all the elements which infallibly appeal to the ordinary listener and to
which he is accustomed. It would be futile to look in it for any
passionate impulse or dynamic brilliance. It is an austere ritual which
is unfolded in terms of short litanies between different groups of
homogeneous instruments.

I fully anticipated that the _cantilène_ of clarinets and flutes,
frequently taking up again their liturgical dialogue and softly chanting
it, did not offer sufficient attraction to a public which had so
recently shown me their enthusiasm for the "revolutionary" _Sacre du
Printemps_. This music is not meant "to please" an audience or to rouse
its passions. I had hoped, however, that it would appeal to those in
whom a purely musical receptivity outweighed the desire to satisfy
emotional cravings. Alas! the conditions under which the work was given
made that impossible. In the first place, it was given in an ill-chosen
sequence. This music, composed for a score of wind instruments, an
ensemble to which people were not accustomed at that time and whose
timbre was bound to seem rather disappointing, was placed immediately
after the pompous marches of the _Coq d'Or_, with their well-known
orchestral brilliancy. And this is what happened: as soon as the marches
were finished, three-quarters of the instrumentalists left their seats,
and in the vast arena of Queen's Hall I saw my twenty musicians still in
their places at the back of the platform at an enormous distance from
the conductor. The sight was peculiar in itself. To see a conductor
gesticulating in front of an empty space, with all the more effort
because the players were so far away, was somewhat disturbing. To
conduct or control a group of instrumentalists at such a distance is an
exceedingly arduous task. It was particularly arduous on this occasion,
as the character of my music demanded the most delicate care to attain
the ear of the public and to tame the audience to it. Both my work and
Koussevitsky himself were thus victimized by untoward circumstances in
which no conductor in the world could have made good.

The success of his season of the Ballet Russe made Diaghileff eager to
realize a long-cherished project for the revival of the _chef d'oeuvre_
of our classical ballet--Tchaikovsky's _Sleeping Beauty_. Knowing my
great admiration for the composer, and that I entirely approved his
idea, Diaghileff asked me to help him to carry out his plan. It was
necessary to examine the score of the ballet, which had been obtained
with the utmost difficulty, as it was, I believe, the only copy extant
in Europe outside Russia. It was not even engraved. Certain parts which
had been cut at its first production in St. Petersburg, and which
Diaghileff wanted to include, were not in the orchestral score, but were
to be found only in the pianoforte arrangement. I undertook to
orchestrate them, and, as Diaghileff had himself reversed the order of
various numbers, he asked me also to arrange the harmonic and orchestral
connections needed.

During this same visit Diaghileff and I conceived another plan that I
had very much at heart. What gave rise to it was our common love and
admiration for our great poet Pushkin, who for foreigners, alas! is but
a name in an encyclopedia, but whose genius in all its versatility and
universality was not only particularly dear and precious to us, but
represented a whole school of thought. By his nature, his mentality, and
his ideology Pushkin was the most perfect representative of that
wonderful line which began with Peter the Great and which, by a
fortunate alloy, has united the most characteristically Russian elements
with the spiritual riches of the West.

Diaghileff unquestionably belonged to this line, and all his activities
have only confirmed the authenticity of that origin. As for myself, I
had always been aware that I had in me the germs of this same mentality
only needing development, and I subsequently deliberately cultivated

Was not the difference between this mentality and the mentality of the
Five, which had so rapidly become academic and concentrated in the
Belaieff circle under the domination of Rimsky-Korsakov and Glazounov,
that the former was, as it were, cosmopolitan, whereas the latter was
purely nationalist? The national element occupies a prominent place with
Pushkin as well as with Glinka and Tchaikovsky. But with them it flows
spontaneously from their very nature, whereas with the others the
nationalistic tendency was a doctrinaire catechism they wished to
impose. This nationalistic, ethnographical aesthetic which they
persisted in cultivating was not in reality far removed from the spirit
which inspired those films one sees of the old Russia of the tsars and
boyars. What is so obvious in them, as indeed in the modern Spanish
"folklorists," whether painters or musicians, is that naive but
dangerous tendency which prompts them to remake an art that has already
been created instinctively by the genius of the people. It is a sterile
tendency and an evil from which many talented artists suffer.

It is true that Occidentalism was equally manifest in both the groups in
question, but its origins were different.

Tchaikovsky, like Dargomijsky and others less well known, although using
popular airs, did not hesitate to present them in a Gallicized or
Italianized form in the manner of Glinka. The "nationalists"
Europeanized their music just as much, but they were inspired by very
different models--Wagner, Liszt, Berlioz--that is to say, by the spirit
of romanticism and program music.

It is true that a Tchaikovsky could not escape Germanic influences. But,
though he was under the influence of Schumann, that did not prevent him
from remaining Russian any more than Gounod, for example, was prevented
from remaining French. Both profited by the purely musical discoveries
of the great German, who was himself so eminently a musician. They
borrowed his phraseology and his distinctive idioms without adopting his

The project of which I spoke above resulted in the composition of my
opera, _Mavra_, taken from Pushkin's rhymed story, _The Little House in
Kolomna_. By this choice, about which Diaghileff and I were in complete
agreement, I asserted my attitude towards the two trends of Russian
thought between which I have just differentiated. On the musical plane
this poem of Pushkin's led me straight to Glinka and Tchaikovsky, and I
resolutely took up my position beside them. I thus clearly defined my
tastes and predilections, my opposition to the contrary aesthetic, and
assumed once more the good tradition established by these masters.
Moreover, I dedicated my work to the memory of Pushkin, Glinka, and

At the end of the summer I left London and went to Anglet, near
Biarritz, to rejoin my family. There I began a task which enthralled
me--a transcription for the piano which I called _Three Movements from
Petroushka_. I wanted with this to provide piano virtuosi with a piece
having sufficient scope to enable them to add to their modern repertory
and display their technique. After that I began the composition of
_Mavra_, for which a libretto in verse after Pushkin was being written
by a young Russian poet, Boris Kochno. He sent me his text bit by bit as
he wrote it. I liked his verse very much, and I appreciated his
intelligence and his literary gifts and greatly enjoyed my work with
him. Later he became one of Diaghileff's active collaborators.

With the approach of autumn I had temporarily to interrupt the work in
order to devote myself to _The Sleeping Beauty_, which was to be
produced very soon. When that was finished I went to London.

There I saw, as presented by Diaghileff, that _chef d'oeuvre_ of
Tchaikovsky and Petipa. Diaghileff had worked at it passionately and
lovingly, and once more displayed his profound knowledge of the art of
the ballet. He put all his soul, all his strength, into it, and in the
most disinterested way, for there was here no question of enhancing his
reputation as a pioneer or appealing to the curiosity of the public by
new forms. In presenting something classical and dignified he
demonstrated the greatness and freedom of his mentality together with a
capacity to appreciate not only the values of today and of remote
periods, but also--and this is an extremely rare quality--the values of
the period immediately preceding our own.

It was a real joy to me to take part in this creation, not only for love
of Tchaikovsky but also because of my profound admiration for classical
ballet, which in its very essence, by the beauty of its _ordonnance_ and
the aristocratic austerity of its forms, so closely corresponds with my
conception of art. For here, in classical dancing, I see the triumph of
studied conception over vagueness, of the rule over the arbitrary, of
order over the haphazard. I am thus brought face to face with the
eternal conflict in art between the Apollonian and the Dionysian
principles. The latter assumes ecstasy to be the final goal--that is to
say, the losing of oneself--whereas art demands above all the full
consciousness of the artist. There can, therefore, be no doubt as to my
choice between the two. And if I appreciate so highly the value of
classical ballet, it is not simply a matter of taste on my part, but
because I see exactly in it the perfect expression of the Apollonian

The first performances of _The Sleeping Beauty_, the lavish setting of
which had been created by Leon Bakst, had a brilliant success, and the
public thronged to it. Unfortunately, the enormous sums invested in the
undertaking compelled the theatrical management to continue its run for
months, until at last there were not enough people left to fill the
theatre, and it became necessary to withdraw it. But the last night, as
I learned later, was a veritable triumph; the audience would not go
away, and there was great difficulty in emptying the building.


After the first few performances I returned to Biarritz, where I settled
with my family and where we stayed for the next three years. There I
worked all the winter at _Mavra_.

It was at this time that my connection with the Pleyel Company began.
They had suggested that I should make a transcription of my works for
their Pleyela mechanical piano.

My interest in the work was twofold. In order to prevent the distortion
of my compositions by future interpreters, I had always been anxious to
find a means of imposing some restriction on the notorious liberty,
especially widespread today, which prevents the public from obtaining a
correct idea of the author's intentions. This possibility was now
afforded by the rolls of the mechanical piano, and, a little later, by
gramophone records.

The means enabled me to determine for the future the relationships of
the movements (_tempi_) and the nuances in accordance with my wishes. It
is true that this guaranteed nothing, and in the ten years which have
since elapsed I have, alas! had ample opportunity of seeing how
ineffective it has proved in practice. But these transcriptions
nevertheless enabled me to create a lasting document which should be of
service to those executants who would rather know and follow my
intentions than stray into irresponsible interpretations of my musical

There was a second direction in which this work gave me satisfaction.
This was not simply the reduction of an orchestral work to the
limitations of a piano of seven octaves. It was the process of
adaptation to an instrument which had, on the one hand, unlimited
possibilities of precision, velocity, and polyphony, but which, on the
other hand, constantly presented serious difficulties in establishing
dynamic relationships. These tasks developed and exercised my
imagination by constantly presenting new problems of an instrumental
nature closely connected with the questions of acoustics, harmony, and
part writing.

It was a restless winter for me, as I had to travel a good deal. My work
at Pleyel's entailed frequent visits to Paris, and I had to attend the
rehearsals of _Mavra_ and _Renard_, which were just going to be produced
by Diaghileff at the Paris Opera House, thanks to the generous help of
Princess Edmond de Polignac.

This necessitated several visits to Monte Carlo, where the choreography
of _Renard_ was being created by Bronislava Nijinska, sister of the
famous dancer and herself an excellent dancer endowed with a profoundly
artistic nature, and, in contrast to her brother, gifted with a real
talent for choreographic creation.

Diaghileff and I also confided to her the direction of the artists
acting in _Mavra_ as regards plastic movement. She had marvelous ideas,
which were unfortunately balked by the inability of the singers to
subject themselves to a technique and discipline in the practice of
which they were unversed.

It was quite different with _Renard_. I still deeply regret that the
production, which gave me the greatest satisfaction both musically (the
music was under the direction of Ansermet) and scenically (the scenery
and costumes were by Larionov and were one of his greatest successes),
has never been revived in that form. Nijinska had admirably seized the
spirit of its mountebank buffoonery. She displayed such a wealth of
ingenuity, so many fine points, and so much satirical verve that the
effect was irresistible. She herself, playing the part of _Renard_,
created an unforgettable figure.

_Mavra_ had its first concert production at a soiree given by Diaghileff
at the Hôtel Continental. I myself accompanied it at the piano. The
first performance of _Mavra_ and _Renard_ at the Paris Opera was on June
3, 1922.

Alas! I was deeply disappointed by the disastrous surroundings in which
my poor _Mavra_ and little _Renard_ found themselves. Being a part of a
Ballet Russe program, my two intimate acts were dwarfed when sandwiched
between spectacular pieces which formed the repertory of Diaghileff's
season and were the special attraction for the general public. This
crushing environment, the enormous framework of the opera house, and
also the mentality of the audience, composed mainly of the famous
_abonnés_, all combined to make my two little pieces, especially
_Mavra_, seem out of place. Though very conscientiously executed by the
Polish conductor Fitelberg, alternating at that time with Ansermet in
the repertory of the Ballet Russe, _Mavra_ was regarded as a
disconcerting freak of mine, and a downright failure. Such was also the
attitude of all the critics, notably those of the pre-war left. They
condemned the whole thing then and there, attaching no importance to it,
and regarding it as unworthy of closer examination. Only a few musicians
of the younger generation appreciated _Mavra_, and realized that it
marked a turning point in the evolution of my musical thought.

For my own part, I was glad to see that I had completely succeeded in
realizing my musical ideas, and was therefore encouraged to develop them
further this time in the domain of symphony. I began to compose my
_Octuor pour Instruments à Vent_.

I began to write this music without knowing what its sound medium would
be--that is to say, what instrumental form it would take. I only decided
that point after finishing the first part, when I saw clearly what
ensemble was demanded by the contrapuntal material, the character, and
structure of what I had composed.

My special interest in wind instruments in various combinations had been
roused when I was composing _Symphonies à la Mémoire de Debussy_, and
this interest had continued to grow during the ensuing period. Thus,
after I had, in these _Symphonies_, used the ordinary wind orchestra
(wood and brass), I added in _Mavra_ double basses and violoncellos and,
episodically, a little trio of two violins and viola.

Having again used a wind ensemble for chamber music in the _Octuor_, I
later undertook the composition of my _Concerto_, which, as regards
color, is yet another combination--that of piano with a wind orchestra
reinforced by double basses and timbals.

But in speaking of the _Concerto_ I have deliberately somewhat
overstepped the chronological order of my narrative to let the reader
see the line of investigation that I was pursuing at that period, which,
looking back now after many years, seems to have constituted a marked
epoch in my creative activity.

This preoccupation with the subject of tone material manifested itself
also in my instrumentation of _Les Noces_, which, after long delays, was
at last to be produced by Diaghileff.

While still at Morges I had tried out various forms of instrumentation,
first of all for a large orchestra, which I gave up almost at once in
view of the elaborate apparatus that the complexity of that form
demanded. I next sought for a solution in a smaller ensemble. I began a
score which required massed polyphonic effects: a mechanical piano and
an electrically driven harmonium, a section of percussion instruments,
and two Hungarian cymbalons. But there I was balked by a fresh obstacle,
namely, the great difficulty for the conductor of synchronizing the
parts executed by instrumentalists and singers with those rendered by
the mechanical players. I was thus compelled to abandon this idea also,
although I had already orchestrated the first two scenes in that way,
work which had demanded a great deal of strength and patience, but which
was all pure loss.

I did not touch _Les Noces_ again for nearly four years, so busy was I
with more urgent matters, and Diaghileff put off its production from
year to year.

It was at last decided that it should be staged at the beginning of
June, 1923, and Diaghileff asked me to help Bronislava Nijinska with the
rehearsals of her choreography at Monte Carlo in March and April. But
the essential thing was to find a solution for the instrumental
ensemble, and that I kept putting off in the hope that it would come of
itself when the definite fixing of a date for the first performance
should make it imperative. And that, in fact, is what happened. I saw
clearly that the sustained, that is to say _soufflé_ elements (_the
elements produced by the breath, as the "wind" in an instrument
ensemble_) in my work would be best supported by an ensemble consisting
exclusively of percussion instruments. I thus found my solution in the
form of an orchestra comprising piano, timbals, bells, and xylophones
none of which instruments gives a precise note.

Such a sound combination in _Les Noces_ was the necessary outcome of the
music itself, and it was in nowise suggested by a desire to imitate the
sounds of popular fetes of this kind, which I had, indeed, neither seen
nor heard. It was in this spirit, too, that I had composed my music
without borrowing anything from folk music with the exception of the
theme of a factory song which I used several times in the last scene,
with different words ("I have gold that hangs down to my waist"; "The
beautiful well-made bed, the beautiful square bed"). All the other
themes, airs, and melodies were of my own invention.

I set myself to work on the instrumentation at the end of the winter,
while still at Biarritz, and I finished it on April 6 at Monaco. I must
say that the stage production of _Les Noces_, though obviously one of
talent, did not correspond with my original plan. I had pictured to
myself something quite different.

According to my idea, the spectacle should have been a _divertissement_,
and that is what I wanted to call it. It was not my intention to
reproduce the ritual of peasant weddings, and I paid little heed to
ethnographical considerations. My idea was to compose a sort of scenic
ceremony, using as I liked those ritualistic elements so abundantly
provided by village customs which had been established for centuries in
the celebration of Russian marriages. I took my inspiration from those
customs, but reserved to myself the right to use them with absolute
freedom. Inspired by the same reasons as in _L'Histoire d'un Soldat_, I
wanted all my instrumental apparatus to be visible side by side with the
actors or dancers, making it, so to speak, a participant in the whole
theatrical action. For this reason, I wished to place the orchestra on
the stage itself, letting the actors move on the space remaining free.
The fact that the artists in the scene would uniformly wear costumes of
a Russian character while the musicians would be in evening dress not
only did not embarrass me, but, on the contrary, was perfectly in
keeping with my idea of a _divertissement_ of the masquerade type.

But Diaghileff had no sympathy with my wishes. And when, to convince
him, I pointed out how successful the plan had been in _L'Histoire d'un
Soldat_, I only stimulated his furious resistance because he could not
bear _L'Histoire_.

So all my efforts in that direction were vain, and as I did not feel
that I had a right to jeopardize the performance since, after all, the
scenic realization did not compromise my work, I very reluctantly
consented to Diaghileff's staging.

The first performance of _Les Noces_ was given on June 13, 1923, at the
Théatre de la Gaîté Lyrique in Paris. It was admirably conducted by
Ansermet, and became one of the most remarkable triumphs of his

The framework of the _décor_ was composed exclusively of backcloths,
with just a few details of a Russian peasant cottage interior, and both
coloring and lighting were very successful. Natalie Goncharova was
responsible for it, and also for the costumes very ingeniously
simplified and made uniform.

The first night of _Les Noces_ had been preceded by a private audition
in concert form at the house of Princess Edmond de Polignac, who never
missed an opportunity of showing me her affection and sympathy. An
excellent musician, of wide culture, a painter endowed with undeniable
talent, she encouraged and was the patron of artists and the arts. I
shall always gratefully remember the evenings at her house where I
played several of my new creations, such as--besides _Les
Noces_--_L'Histoire d'un Soldat_, my _Concerto_, my piano _Sonate_
(which is dedicated to her), _Oedipus Rex_, and so forth.

In August of that same year I went on a short visit to Weimar, at the
invitation of the organizers of a very fine exhibition of modern
architecture (_Bauhaus_), in the course of which there was a series of
musical performances, including, among other things, the presentation of
my _L'Histoire d'un Soldat_. It had already been given in Germany, two
months earlier, at Frankfort-on-Main, at one of seven concerts of modern
music (_Neue Kammermusik_) organized in that city with the help of Paul

My journey to Weimar was something of an adventure. In Paris I could not
get a through ticket. All I could obtain was a ticket to the station
where the zone of occupation began, a little way from Frankfort. It was
quite late when I reached the little station, which was occupied by
African soldiers with fixed bayonets. I was told that at that hour there
was no means of communication with Frankfort, and that I must wait till
daylight, contenting myself till then with the bench in the waiting
room, which was, moreover, already crowded to overflowing. I wanted at
first to look for a bed in the village, but was warned that it would be
risky to go out in the dark because of the vigilance of the sentries,
who might mistake me for a vagrant. It was so dark that I had to abandon
the idea and stay at the station, counting the hours till dawn. It was
not till 7 A.M. that, guided by a child, and after a tramp of half an
hour along rain-soaked roads, I finally reached the shelter of the tram
which took me to the central station of Frankfort, where I found a train
to Weimar.

I have retained one memory, which is particularly dear to me, of my
short stay at Weimar, where the _Soldat_ was very warmly received by the
public. I made the acquaintance of Ferruccio Busoni, whom I had never
met before and who had always been described to me as an irreconcilable
opponent of my music. I was therefore very much impressed by the sincere
emotion that I saw he was feeling while my music was being played, which
was confirmed by him that same evening. I was all the more touched by
this appreciation, since it came from a very great musician, whose work
and mentality were fundamentally opposed to the spirit of my art. It was
my first and last sight of him; he died a year later.

I must come back now to my _Octuor_, the composition of which had been
interrupted while I was orchestrating _Les Noces_. I finished it in May,
1923, and conducted it myself on October 18 of that year in the Paris
Opera House at a Koussevitzky concert.

I remember what an effort it cost me to establish an ensemble of eight
wind instruments, for they could not strike the listener's ear with a
great display of tone. In order that this music should reach the ear of
the public it was necessary to emphasize the entries of the several
instruments, to introduce breathing spaces between the phrases (rests),
to pay particular care to the intonation, the instrumental prosody, the
accentuation--in short, to establish order and discipline in the purely
sonorous scheme to which I always give precedence over elements of an
emotional character. It was all the more difficult because at that time,
when I was only just beginning my career as a conductor, I had not yet
got the necessary technique, which I acquired later only with practice.
And, for that matter, the instrumentalists themselves were unaccustomed
to this method of treating the art of playing because, all told, very
few conductors employ it.

In January I went to Antwerp, having been invited by La Société des
Nouveaux Concerts to conduct a program of my earlier works. From there I
went to Brussels, where the Pro Arte Society had organized a concert of
my music. The celebrated Quartet--known under that name (MM. A. Onnou,
L. Halleux, G. Prévost, and R. Maas)--with its usual masterly
seriousness played my _Concertino_ and my _Trois Petites Pièces pour
Quatuor à Cordes_, while I myself conducted my _Octuor_, _La Suite de
Pulcinella_, and my opera _Mavra_, the vocal parts of which had been
carefully studied and prepared by the singers before my arrival with the
help of that enthusiastic Belgian musician, Paul Collaer. I give all
these details because I retain a grateful memory of the Pro Arte group
for this concert, organized in a highly artistic fashion, which enabled
me to present my work, especially _Mavra_, under conditions which I
could not have wished better.

In this connection I must mention here the first concert performance of
_Mavra_ a year earlier. Jean Wiener, who had at that time arranged a
series of auditions of contemporary music in Paris, on December 26,
1922, gave a concert consisting exclusively of my music, including my
_Symphonies pour Instruments à Vent_ and _Mavra_, conducted by Ansermet.
This time also the conditions provided were those which are essential if
the music is to be heard and appreciated by the public.

My visit to Belgium had prevented me from going to Monte Carlo, where
Diaghileff was then giving a season of French operas which we had
selected together, and to the production of which he devoted the utmost
care. In the winter of 1922-1923 I often went to the small Trianon
Lyrique, a modest and charming theatre of long standing. Louis Masson,
its director, was a serious musician and excellent conductor, with a
firm baton and very fine taste. He gave unpretentious performances there
which were perfectly executed. He deserves gratitude for the courage
with which he put on works of high musical value which the official
theatres had, alas! cast aside as old-fashioned and no longer attractive
to the general public. This attitude of the great theatres is all the
more deplorable in that, while depriving well-informed musicians of
infallible enjoyment, it lets slip an opportunity for educating the
public and directing their taste in a favorable direction. For my own
part, I took great pleasure in these performances, especially Cimarosa's
_Secret Mariage_ and Gounod's _Philémon et Baucis_. In hearing this
latter opera I once again experienced the charm which emanates from the
intimate aroma of Gounod's music. Diaghileff was as much in love with it
as I was, and this gave us the idea of looking through his works in the
hope of finding forgotten pieces.

We thus discovered the short but delicious comic opera, _La Colombe_,
written for the theatre at Baden-Baden in the reign of Napoleon III, and
we found also that little masterpiece, _Le Médecin Malgré Lui_.
Diaghileff also happened to run across _L'Education Manquée_, a charming
piece by Chabrier. His great importance is still not fully appreciated
by his own compatriots, who persist in treating him with kindly
indulgence, seeing in him nothing more than an amusing and lively
amateur. It is clear that ears corrupted by emotional and sentimental
verbiage, and inoculated with academic doctrine (which, however, is less
serious), cannot but remain deaf to the quality of such a real pearl as
_Le Médecin Malgré Lui_, which has against it the misfortune of being
purely music.

As I said before, I had not had a chance of seeing the Gounod operas
which Diaghileff was producing at Monte Carlo. I know only that the
public had proved indifferent to those performances and had not
appreciated my friend's gesture. In their uncultured snobbishness the
greatest fear of these people was lest they should appear to be behind
the times if they showed enjoyment for music stupidly condemned by the
publicity-mongers of what was once the advance guard. I was myself a
witness of this foolish attitude of the public at the first performance
of _L'Education Manquée_ during the Russian Ballet season at the
Champs-Elysées. The title was ironic, for the audience displayed a
complete lack of education. Being accustomed to see nothing but ballets
at Diaghileff's performances, they considered that they were swindled in
having to see an opera, however short, and indicated their impatience by
interruptions and cries of "Dance, dance." It was nauseating. It is only
fair to say that these interruptions came for the most part from
outsiders, who were easily recognized as such by their foreign accent.
And to think that this same audience listens devoutly and with angelic
patience to the edifying harangues of King Mark endlessly reiterated at
official gala performances under the baton of some star conductor!

Side by side with forgotten works, Diaghileff had wanted to present in
that season the music of composers belonging to the young French school,
by giving ballets which he had commissioned from them. These included
Georges Auric's _Les Fâcheux_, the music of which is full of verve and
pungency, with the unforgettable scenery and costumes by Georges Braque;
Francis Poulenc's youthful and tender _Biches_, in the delicate
framework designed by Marie Laurencin; and finally, _Le Train Bleu_ by
Darius Milhaud, with its lively sporting pace. The admirably successful
choreography of these three ballets came from Bronislava Nijinska's
inexhaustible talent. The performance was brilliant, and it gives me
great pleasure to mention here such admirable executants as Vera
Nemtchinova, Leon Woizikovsky, and Anton Dolin.


My concerts in Belgium, followed in March by several at Barcelona and
Madrid, mark, so to speak, the beginning of my career as executant of my
own works. In fact I had that year a whole series of engagements in
various towns in Europe and the United States, and had not only to
conduct my own compositions, but also to play my _Concerto_ for piano
and orchestra, which I had just finished.

While on this subject, I ought to say that the idea of playing my
_Concerto_ myself was suggested by Koussevitzky, who happened to be at
Biarritz when I was finishing its composition. I hesitated at first,
fearing that I should not have time to perfect my technique as a
pianist, to practice enough, and to acquire the endurance necessary to
execute a work demanding sustained effort. But as I am by nature always
tempted by anything needing prolonged effort, and prone to persist in
overcoming difficulties, and as, also, the prospect of creating my work
for myself, and thus establishing the manner in which I wished it to be
played, greatly attracted me, these influences combined to induce me to
undertake it.

I began, therefore, the loosening of my fingers by playing a lot of
Czerny exercises, which was not only very useful but gave me keen
musical pleasure. I have always admired Czerny, not only as a remarkable
teacher but also as a thoroughbred musician.

While learning by heart the piano part of my _Concerto_, I had
simultaneously to accustom myself to keep in mind and hear the various
parts of the orchestra, so that my attention should not be distracted
while I was playing. For a novice like myself this was hard work, to
which I had to devote many hours every day.

My first public performance of the _Concerto_ took place at the Paris
Opera on May 22 at a Koussevitzky concert, after I had played it a week
earlier to an intimate gathering at the Princess de Polignac's with Jean
Wiener playing the accompaniment on a piano.

At the beginning of my career as a piano soloist I naturally suffered
from stage fright, and for a long time I had a good deal of difficulty
in overcoming it. It was only by habit and sustained effort that I
managed, in time, to master my nerves and so to withstand one of the
most distressing sensations that I know. In analyzing the cause of this
stage fright, I have come to the conclusion that it is chiefly due to
fear of a lapse of memory or of some distraction, however trifling,
which might have irreparable consequences. For the slightest gap, even a
mere wavering, risks giving rise to a fatal discordance between the
piano and the orchestral body, which obviously cannot, in any
circumstances, hold the movement of its own part in suspense. I remember
at my first debut being seized by just such a lapse of memory, though it
fortunately had no dire results. Having finished the first part of my
_Concerto_, just before beginning the Largo which opens with a piano
solo, I suddenly realized that I had entirely forgotten how it started.
I whispered this to Koussevitsky. He glanced at the score and whispered
the first notes. That was enough to restore my balance and enable me to
attack the Largo.

Incidentally, I must mention a flying visit that I paid to Copenhagen,
such a cheerful town in summer, which I went to several times later, and
always with the same pleasure. I played my _Concerto_ at the Tivoli at
one of the summer season symphony concerts.

When I returned to Biarritz I had to arrange our removal to Nice, where
I had decided to live, because the Atlantic gales got on my nerves,
especially in winter. The last few months of my stay at Biarritz were
devoted to the composition of my _Sonate pour Piano_.

After the _Octuor_ and the _Concerto_, my interest was completely and
continuously absorbed in thoughts of instrumental music pure and simple,
untrammeled by any scenic consideration. The recent task of writing the
piano parts of my _Concerto_ and _Noces_ had greatly stimulated my
keenness for that instrument. I therefore decided to compose a piece for
pianoforte solo in several movements. This was my _Sonate_. I gave it
that name without, however, giving it the classical form such as we find
it in Clementi, Haydn, Mozart, which as everyone knows, is conditioned
by the allegro. I used the term sonata in its original meaning--deriving
from _sonare_, in contrast to _cantare_, whence _cantata_. In using the
term, therefore, I did not regard myself as restricted by any
predetermined form.

But, though determined to retain full liberty in composing this work, I
had, while engaged on it, a strong desire to examine more closely the
sonatas of the classical masters in order to trace the direction and
development of their thought in the solution of the problems presented
by that form.

I therefore replayed, among others, a great many of Beethoven's sonatas.
In our early youth we were surfeited by his works, his famous
_Weltschmerz_ being forced upon us at the same time, together with his
"tragedy" and all the commonplace utterances voiced for more than a
century about this composer who must be recognized as one of the world's
greatest musical geniuses.

Like many other musicians, I was disgusted by this intellectual and
sentimental attitude, which had little to do with serious musical
appreciation. This deplorable pedagogy did not fail in its result. It
alienated me from Beethoven for many years.

Cured and matured by age, I could now approach him objectively so that
he wore a different aspect for me. Above all I recognized in him the
indisputable monarch of the instrument. It is the instrument that
inspires his thought and determines its substance. The relations of a
composer to his sound medium may be of two kinds. Some, for example,
compose music _for_ the piano; others compose _piano music_. Beethoven
is clearly in the second category. In all his immense pianistic work, it
is the "instrumental" side which is characteristic of him and makes him
infinitely precious to me. It is the giant instrumentalist that
predominates in him, and it is thanks to that quality that he cannot
fail to reach any ear that is open to music.

But is it in truth Beethoven's music which has inspired the innumerable
works devoted to this prodigious musician by thinkers, moralists, and
even sociologists who have suddenly become musicographers? In this
connection I should like to quote the following passage taken from an
article in the great Soviet daily, _Izvestia_:

"Beethoven is the friend and the contemporary of the French Revolution,
and he remained faithful to it even at the time when, during the Jacobin
dictatorship, humanitarians with weak nerves of the Schiller type turned
from it, preferring to destroy tyrants on the theatrical stage with the
help of cardboard swords. Beethoven, that plebian genius, who proudly
turned his back on emperors, princes, and magnates--that is the
Beethoven we love for his unassailable optimism, his virile sadness, for
the inspired pathos of his struggle, and for his iron will which enabled
him to seize destiny by the throat."

This _chef d'oeuvre_ of penetration comes from the pen of one of the
most famous of the musical critics of the U.S.S.R. I should like to know
in what this mentality differs from the platitudes and commonplace
utterances of the publicity-mongers of liberalism in all the bourgeois
democracies long before the social revolution in Russia.

I do not mean to say that everything that has been written on Beethoven
in this sense is of the same quality. But, in the majority of these
works, do not the panegyrists base their adulation far more on the
sources of his inspiration than on the music itself? Could they have
filled their fat volumes if they had not been able to embroider to their
hearts' content all the extramusical elements available in the Beethoven
life and legend, drawing their conclusions and judgments on the artist
from them?

What does it matter whether the _Third Symphony_ was inspired by the
figure of Bonaparte the Republican or Napoleon the Emperor? It is only
the music that matters. But to talk music is risky, and entails
responsibility. Therefore some find it preferable to seize on side
issues. It is easy, and enables you to pass as a deep thinker.

This reminds me of the account of a conversation between Mallarmé and
Degas which I had from Paul Valéry. Degas, who, as is well known, liked
to dabble in poetry, one day said to Mallarmé: "I cannot manage the end
of my sonnet, and it is not that I am wanting in ideas." Mallarmé,
softly: "It is not with ideas that one makes sonnets, but with words."

So it is with Beethoven. It is in the quality of his musical material
and not in the nature of his ideas that his true greatness lies.

It is time that this was recognized, and Beethoven was rescued from the
unjustifiable monopoly of the "intellectuals" and left to those who seek
in music for nothing but music. It is, however, also time--and this is
perhaps even more urgent--to protect him from the stupidity and drivel
of fools who think it up to date to giggle as they amuse themselves by
running him down. Let them beware; dates pass quickly.

Just as in his pianistic work Beethoven lives on the piano, so, in his
symphonies, overtures, and chamber music he draws his sustenance from
his instrumental ensemble. With him the instrumentation is never
apparel, and that is why it never strikes one. The profound wisdom with
which he distributes parts to separate instruments or to whole groups,
the carefulness of his instrumental writing, and the precision with
which he indicates his wishes--all these testify to the fact that we are
above all in the presence of a tremendous constructive force.

I do not think that I am mistaken in asserting that it was just his
manner of molding his musical material which logically led to the
erection of those monumental structures which are his supreme glory.

There are those who contend that Beethoven's instrumentation was bad and
his tone color poor. Others altogether ignore that side of his art,
holding that instrumentation is a secondary matter and that only "ideas"
are worthy of consideration.

The former demonstrate their lack of taste, their complete incompetence
in this respect, and their narrow and mischievous mentality. In contrast
with the florid orchestration of Wagner, with its lavish coloring,
Beethoven's instrumentation will appear to lack luster. It might produce
a similar impression if compared with the vivacious radiance of Mozart.
But Beethoven's music is intimately linked up with his instrumental
language, and finds its most exact and perfect expression in the
sobriety of that language. To regard it as poverty-stricken would merely
show lack of perception. True sobriety is a great rarity, and most
difficult of attainment.

As for those who attach no importance to Beethoven's instrumentation,
but ascribe the whole of his greatness to his "ideas"--they obviously
regard all instrumentation as a mere matter of apparel, coloring,
flavoring, and so fall, though following a different path, into the same
heresy as the others.

Both make the same fundamental error of regarding instrumentation as
something extrinsic from the music for which it exists.

This dangerous point of view concerning instrumentation, coupled with
the unhealthy greed for orchestral opulence of today, has corrupted the
judgment of the public, and they, being impressed by the immediate
effect of tone color, can no longer solve the problem of whether it is
intrinsic in the music or simply "padding." Orchestration has become a
source of enjoyment independent of the music, and the time has surely
come to put things in their proper places. We have had enough of this
orchestral dappling and these thick sonorities; one is tired of being
saturated with timbres, and wants no more of all this overfeeding, which
deforms the entity of the instrumental element by swelling it out of all
proportion and giving it an existence of its own. There is a great deal
of re-education to be accomplished in this field.

All these ideas were germinating in me while I was composing my sonata
and once more renewing my contact with Beethoven. Their development has
continued from that time to this, and my mind is full of them.

I had hardly settled down in the Riviera when I had to undertake a
concert tour in central Europe. I went first to Warsaw and Prague; then
to Leipzig and Berlin, where I played my _Concerto_, accompanied by
Furtwängler. I also gave a concert at the Blüthersaal in Berlin, where,
among other things, I conducted my _Octuor_. After that I went to
Holland. I was hospitably welcomed at the Concertgebouw of Amsterdam by
its eminent conductor Willem Mengelberg, and I played my _Concerto_
under his direction at a concert, repeated two days later at The Hague,
and shared the conductor's baton with him on another occasion.

Then I went to Geneva and to Lausanne to conduct my own compositions and
to play under the direction of Ansermet. I finished my circuit with a
concert at Marseilles.

I had to leave Europe soon afterwards for a comparatively long time, as
I had signed a contract for a concert tour of two months in the United
States. It was my first crossing of the Atlantic.

Without stopping to describe my visual impressions on landing in New
York--skyscrapers, traffic, lights, Negroes, cinemas, theatres, in fact
all that rouses the curiosity of foreigners, and very rightly so--I want
to begin by bearing witness as a musician to the fact that in the United
States, side by side with a pronounced weakness for the freakish and the
sensational, I found a real taste for the art of music, as manifested by
the many societies devoted to musical culture and by the magnificent
orchestras munificently endowed by private individuals. In this respect
the United States reminded me of Germany and Russia. I received the
warmest and most hospitable welcome from musical societies, amateurs,
and patrons, notably from Clarence H. Mackay, at whose invitation I had
gone and who was at that time president of the New York Philharmonic.

The public was already acquainted with my most frequently performed
works, which they had heard in many concerts, but what was a novelty was
to see me in the roles of pianist and conductor. Judging by the full
houses and the acclamations which I received, I flattered myself that I
had achieved an undoubted success. But at that time it might have been
ascribed to the attraction of novelty. It is only now, after my recent
tour in that country, that I am convinced of the solid foundation on
which the American public's interest in my music rests.

This time, moreover, I was fully conscious of the approval of my manner
of rendering my works even by critics accustomed to new-fangled
conducting. I was glad that my ten years of effort in acquiring the
proficiency necessary to present my works in the way I desired was
rewarded by the public understanding of it. The serious interest of the
Americans in music is displayed, among other ways, in the judicious
selection of those to whom they apply for instruction. A large number of
young people have come to France to complete their musical
education--indeed, since the war this has become almost a tradition--and
have found invaluable teachers in Nadia Boulanger and Isidore Philipp. I
had the pleasure of meeting a whole series of their pupils, some
performers and some teachers themselves, all musicians of solid
knowledge and unerring taste, who, on returning to their own country,
were engaged in spreading the excellent musical culture which they had
acquired under these eminent masters, and in successfully combating
pernicious influences and base amateurishness.

I hope some day to have an opportunity of saying more about this second
visit to the United States, and to express more fully my sympathy with,
and cordial attachment to, this new, hardy, naive, yet immense country.

Returning to my first tour in 1925, I will briefly enumerate the towns I
visited. I began my itinerary with the New York Philharmonic, where I
conducted in several concerts and played my _Concerto_ under the
direction of Mengelberg, as, later, I played in Boston under
Koussevitzky, and in Chicago, under the veteran Stock. Then followed
Philadelphia, Cleveland, Detroit, and Cincinnati.

I retain a vivid and grateful memory of Chicago. My friend Carpenter and
his now lamented wife Rue gave me the warmest of welcomes, and arranged
a dinner in my honor, which was followed by a concert of chamber music
at the Arts Club of which Mrs. Carpenter was president.

As I was under an engagement to play my _Concerto_ at the Philadelphia
Orchestra, it was necessary for me to return to that city, and in
somewhat unusual circumstances. Having been detained in the country, I
could not reach Philadelphia until the afternoon of the very day of my
concert. Moreover, the guest conductor, Fritz Reiner, of Cincinnati, who
was to accompany me in place of Leopold Stokowski, who was away just
then, had barely time to rehearse the program for the evening, as he
himself had arrived only that morning. Most conductors devote several
rehearsals to the preparation of my _Concerto_, but on this occasion we
had barely half an hour. And there was a miracle. There was not a single
hitch. It was as though Reiner had played it time and again with that
orchestra. Such an extraordinary phenomenon could never have occurred,
notwithstanding the prodigious technique of the conductor and the high
quality of the orchestra, if Reiner had not acquired a perfect knowledge
of my score, which he had procured some time before. One could aptly
apply to him the familiar saying: he has the score in his head and not
his head in the score.

I have told this little story to show that in America are to be found
musicians of the highest rank, such as Fritz Reiner, whose value ought
to be far more highly appreciated than it is. But they are relegated to
the background, overshadowed by the fame and bulk of celebrated
orchestral "stars" for whom the public evinces herd enthusiasm, failing
to note that their aim is to outshine one another in the pursuit of
personal triumphs, and generally at the expense of the music.

As soon as I returned to Europe, I had to go to Barcelona to conduct a
festival of three concerts devoted to my music. On my arrival I had an
amusing surprise, which I shall never forget. Among those who came to
meet me at the station there was a very likable little journalist who,
in interviewing me, carried his amiability to the pitch of saying,
"Barcelona awaits you with impatience. Ah, if you only knew how we love
your _Scheherazade_ and your _Danses du Prince Igor_!" I had not the
heart to undeceive him.

Another festival of my music was given in April at the Augusteo in Rome,
under the direction of Molinari, at which I played my _Concerto_, and
where the excellent vocalist, Mme Vera Janacopoulos, sang at a concert
of chamber music under my direction.

When I returned to Paris in May, I conducted my _Ragtime_ at the Opera
and replayed my _Concerto_ at a Koussevitzky concert of my compositions.
After having seen the performances of the Ballet Russe, which had put on
_Pulcinella_ and the _Chant du Rossignol_ in a new version by Massine, I
returned to Nice for the summer months, to rest after my many journeys
and to devote myself afresh to composition.

In America I had arranged with a gramophone firm to make records of some
of my music. This suggested the idea that I should compose something
whose length should be determined by the capacity of the record. I
should in that way avoid all the trouble of cutting and adapting. And
that is how my _Sérénade en LA pour Piano_ came to be written. I had
started it as early as April, beginning with the last portion, and now
at Nice resumed its composition. The four movements constituting the
piece are united under the title Sérénade, in imitation of the
_Nachtmusik_ of the eighteenth century, which was usually commissioned
by patron princes for various festive occasions, and included, as did
the suites, an indeterminate number of pieces.

Whereas these compositions were written for ensembles of instruments of
greater or less importance, I wanted to condense mine into a small
number of movements for one polyphonic instrument. In these pieces I
represented some of the most typical moments of this kind of musical
fete. I began with a solemn entry, a sort of hymn; this I followed by a
solo of ceremonial homage paid by the artist to the guests; the third
part, rhythmical and sustained, took the place of the various kinds of
dance music intercalated in accordance with the manner of the serenades
and suites of the period; and I ended with a sort of epilogue which was
tantamount to an ornate signature with numerous carefully inscribed
flourishes. I had a definite purpose in calling my composition _Sérénade
en LA_. The title does not refer to its tonality, but to the fact that I
had made all the music revolve about an axis of sound which happened to
be the LA.

Working at this did not tire me much, and did not prevent me from
enjoying a rest which I felt that I deserved, and which included various
amusements, mainly that of motoring about the Riviera.

As soon as my _Sérénade_ was finished I felt the necessity for
undertaking something big. I had in mind an opera or an oratorio on some
universally familiar subject. My idea was that in that way I could
concentrate the whole attention of the audience, undistracted by the
story, on the music itself, which would thus become both word and

With my thoughts full of this project, I started for Venice, where I had
been invited to play my _Sonate_ at the festival of the Société
Internationale pour la Musique Contemporaine. I took advantage of this
opportunity to make a little tour of Italy before returning to Nice. My
last stopping-place was Genoa, and there I happened to find in a
bookseller's a volume by Joergensen on St. Francis of Assisi of which I
had already heard. In reading it I was struck by a passage which
confirmed one of my most deeprooted convictions. It is common knowledge
that the familiar speech of the saint was Provençal, but that on solemn
occasions, such as prayer, he used French. I have always considered that
a special language, and not that of current converse, was required for
subjects touching on the sublime. That is why I was trying to discover
what language would be most appropriate for my projected work, and why I
finally selected Latin. The choice had the great advantage of giving me
a medium not dead, but turned to stone and so monumentalized as to have
become immune from all risk of vulgarization.

On my return my mind continued to dwell on my new work, and I decided to
take my subject from the familiar myths of ancient Greece. I thought
that I could not do better for my libretto than to appeal to my old
friend, Jean Cocteau, of whom I saw a good deal, as he was then living
not far from Nice. I had been frequently attracted by the idea of
collaborating with him. I recall that at one time or another we had
sketched out various plans but something had always arisen to prevent
their materialization. I had just seen his _Antigone_, and had been much
struck by the manner in which he had handled the ancient myth and
presented it in modern guise. Cocteau's stagecraft is excellent. He has
a sense of values and an eye and feeling for detail which always become
of primary importance with him. This applies alike to the movements of
the actors, the setting, the costumes, and, indeed, all the accessories.
In the preceding year, too, I had again had an opportunity of
appreciating these qualities of Cocteau in _La Machine Infernale_, in
which his efforts were so ably seconded by the fine talent of Christian
Bérard, who was responsible for the scenery.

For two months I was in constant touch with Cocteau. He was delighted
with my idea, and set to work at once. We were in complete agreement in
choosing _Oedipus Rex_ as the subject. We kept our plans secret, wishing
to give Diaghileff a surprise for the twentieth anniversary of his
theatrical activities, which was to be celebrated in the spring of 1927.

Leaving Cocteau to his task, I undertook another concert tour at the
beginning of November. I went first to Zurich to play my _Concerto_
under the direction of Dr. Volkmar Andreae. At Basle I played it under
that of the late Hermann Suter. From there I made a lightning visit to
Winterthur, at the invitation of my friend Werner Reinhart, at whose
house I played, among other things, my first suite for violin and piano
from _Pulcinella_ with that excellent young violinist, Alma Moodie.

I then went to Wiesbaden to take part as soloist in my _Concerto_ at a
symphony concert conducted by Klemperer. It was there that I got into
touch for the first time with this eminent conductor, with whom later I
so frequently had the opportunity and pleasure of working. I shall
always retain a grateful and affectionate memory of our relations, for I
found in Klemperer not only a devoted propagandist of my work, but a
forceful conductor, with a generous nature and intelligence enough to
realize that in closely following the author's directions there is no
danger of prejudicing one's own individuality.

After a concert of chamber music in Berlin I went to Frankfort-on-Main
to take part in a festival of two concerts devoted to my music.

My last stage was at Copenhagen, where I was to conduct a concert at the
invitation of the great daily, _Dagens Nyheder_. As the Royal Opera in
Copenhagen had just staged _Petroushka_, with the choreography
reconstructed by Michel Fokine himself, the theatrical management,
availing themselves of my presence, asked me to conduct one of the
performances. I did so with great pleasure, leaving next day for Paris.

A few days after my arrival I was grieved to learn of the loss of a
friend to whom I was sincerely attached. This was Ernest Oeberg,
director of _Les Editions Russes_, founded by M. and Mme Koussevitzky,
which had published most of my works. I deeply deplored the loss of this
generous man, who had always had at heart anything touching my
interests. Fortunately for me, he was succeeded by his collaborator,
Gabriel Paitchadzé, who still carries on the work and in whom I have
found a devoted friend.

Under the influence of all these unexpected events, I returned to Nice
to spend Christmas.


At the opening of the New Year I received from Cocteau the first part of
his final version of _Oedipus_ in the Latin translation of Jean
Daniélou. I had been impatiently awaiting it for months, as I was eager
to start work. All my expectations from Cocteau were fully justified. I
could not have wished for a more perfect text, or one that better suited
my requirements.

The knowledge of Latin, which I had acquired at school, but neglected,
alas! for many years, began to revive as I plunged into the libretto,
and, with the help of the French version, I rapidly familiarized myself
with it. As I had fully anticipated, the events and characters of the
great tragedy came to life wonderfully in this language, and, thanks to
it, assumed a statuesque plasticity and a stately bearing entirely in
keeping with the majesty of the ancient legend.

What a joy it is to compose music to a language of convention, almost of
ritual, the very nature of which imposes a lofty dignity! One no longer
feels dominated by the phrase, the literal meaning of the words. Cast in
an immutable mold which adequately expresses their value, they do not
require any further commentary. The text thus becomes purely phonetic
material for the composer. He can dissect it at will and concentrate all
his attention on its primary constituent element--that is to say, on the
syllable. Was not this method of treating the text that of the old
masters of austere style? This, too, has for centuries been the Church's
attitude towards music, and has prevented it from falling into
sentimentalism, and consequently into individualism.

To my great regret, I soon had to interrupt my work in order to make
another concert tour. I went to Amsterdam, where, for the first time, I
tackled the _Sacre du Printemps_; thence to Rotterdam and Haarlem, and a
little later to Budapest, Vienna, and Zagreb. On my way back to Nice I
stopped at Milan to see Toscanini, who was to conduct _Le Rossignol_ and
_Petroushka_, which the Scala had decided to produce that spring. While
in Vienna, I had read in the newspapers that the score of _Le Rossignol_
had mysteriously disappeared from Toscanini's rehearsal room. It appears
that during a short absence of Toscanini it had been taken from his
music stand where, a few minutes earlier, he had been studying it.
Search was immediately made, and it was at last found in the shop of an
antique dealer, who had just purchased it from some person unknown. This
incident had caused great excitement at the Scala, but it had already
subsided by the time I reached Milan.

Toscanini received me in the most charming fashion. He called the
choruses and asked me to accompany them on the piano in order to give
them such instructions as I might think necessary. I was struck by the
deep knowledge he had of the score in its smallest details, and by his
meticulous study of every work which he undertook to conduct. This
quality of his is universally recognized, but this was the first time
that I had a chance of seeing it applied to one of my own compositions.

Everyone knows that Toscanini always conducts from memory. This is
attributed to his shortsightedness. But in our days, when the number of
showy conductors has so greatly increased, though in inverse ratio to
their technical merits and their general culture, conducting an
orchestra without the score had become the fashion, and is often a
matter of mere display. There is, however, nothing marvelous about this
apparent _tour de force_ (unless the work is complicated by changes of
tempo or rhythm, and in such cases it is not done, and for very good
reasons); one risks little and with a modicum of assurance and coolness
a conductor can easily get away with it. It does not really prove that
he knows the orchestration of the score. But there can be no doubt on
that point in the case of Toscanini. His memory is proverbial; there is
not a detail that escapes him, as attendance at one of his rehearsals is
enough to demonstrate.

I have never encountered in a conductor of such world repute such a
degree of self-effacement, conscientiousness, and artistic honesty. What
a pity it is that his inexhaustible energy and his marvelous talents
should almost always be wasted on such eternally repeated works that no
general idea can be discerned in the composition of his programs, and
that he should be so unexacting in the selection of his modern
repertory! I do not, however, wish to be misunderstood. I am far from
reproaching Toscanini for introducing, let us say, the works of Verdi
into his concerts. On the contrary, I wish that he did so oftener, since
he conducts them in so pure a tradition. By so doing he might freshen
all those symphonic programs which are built on one pattern and are all
becoming unbearably moldy. If I am told that I have chosen my example
badly, because Verdi is the author of purely vocal music, I reply that
the Wagnerian fragments which have been specially adapted for the
concert platform and are forever being repeated are also taken from
so-called vocal works, and are equally devoid of symphonic form in the
proper sense of the term.

Rejoicing in the knowledge that my work was in the hands of so eminent a
_maestro_, I returned to Nice, but only a month later I got a telegram
from the Scala saying that Toscanini had fallen ill and asking me to
conduct the performances myself. I consented, and went to Milan at the
beginning of May and conducted a series of performances which included
my opera, _Le Rossignol_, with the incomparable Laura Pasini, and
_Petroushka_, staged in the best tradition by the ballet master,
Romanov. I was astounded by the high standard and rigorous discipline of
the Scala orchestra, with which a month later I enjoyed making fresh
contact when, at the invitation of Count G. Cicogna, president of the
Societa de Ente Concerti Orchestrali, I returned to Milan again to play
my _Concerto_.

During the rest of the summer and the following autumn and winter, I
hardly stirred from home, being entirely absorbed by my work on
_Oedipus_. The more deeply I went into the matter the more I was
confronted by the problem of style (_tenue_) in all its seriousness. I
am not here using the word _style_ in its narrow sense, but am giving it
a larger significance, a much greater range. Just as Latin, no longer
being a language in everyday use, imposed a certain style on me, so the
language of the music itself imposed a certain convention which would be
able to keep it within strict bounds and prevent it from overstepping
them and wandering into byways, in accordance with those whims of the
author which are often so perilous. I had subjected myself to this
restraint when I selected a form of language bearing the tradition of
ages, a language which may be called homologous. The need for
restriction, for deliberately submitting to a style, has its source in
the very depths of our nature, and is found not only in matters of art,
but in every conscious manifestation of human activity. It is the need
for order without which nothing can be achieved, and upon the
disappearance of which everything disintegrates. Now all order demands
restraint. But one would be wrong to regard that as any impediment to
liberty. On the contrary, the style, the restraint, contribute to its
development, and only prevent liberty from degenerating into license. At
the same time, in borrowing a form already established and consecrated,
the creative artist is not in the least restricting the manifestation of
his personality. On the contrary, it is more detached, and stands out
better when it moves within the definite limits of a convention. This it
was that induced me to use the anodyne and impersonal formulas of a
remote period and to apply them largely in my opera-oratorio, _Oedipus_,
to the austere and solemn character to which they specially lent

I finished the score on March 14, 1927. As I have already said, we had
decided with Cocteau that it should be heard in Paris for the first
time, among Diaghileff's productions on the occasion of the twentieth
anniversary of his theatrical activity, which occurred that spring. We,
his friends, wished to commemorate the rare event in the annals of the
theatre of an undertaking of a purely artistic nature, without the least
hope of material gain, which had been able to continue for so many years
and to survive so many trials including the World War, and had,
moreover, continued solely owing to the indomitable energy, the
persistent tenacity, of one man passionately devoted to his work. We
wanted to give him a surprise, and were able to keep our secret to the
last moment, which would have been impossible in the case of a ballet,
for which Diaghileff's participation would have been necessary from the
first. As we were too short both of time and funds to present _Oedipus
Rex_ in a stage setting, it was decided to give it in concert form. And
even that entailed so large an outlay for soloists, choruses, and
orchestra that we could never have met it if Princess Edmond de Polignac
had not once more come to our assistance.

The first audition of _Oedipus_ took place at the Théatre Sarah
Bernhardt on May 30, and was followed by two more under my direction.
Once again I had to suffer from the conditions under which my work was
presented: an oratorio sandwiched between two ballets! An audience which
had come to applaud ballet was naturally disconcerted by such a
contrast, and was unable to concentrate on something purely auditive.
That is why the later performances of _Oedipus_ as an opera under
Klemperer in Berlin, and then as a concert under my direction in Dresden
and London and in the Salle Pleyel, Paris, gave me far greater

In June I spent a fortnight in London, where, besides conducting
_Oedipus_ for the British Broadcasting Corporation, I conducted a gala
performance of my ballets given by Diaghileff in my honor, and which
ex-King Alfonso, always faithful to the Russian Ballet, honored by his

While in London I had an opportunity of hearing a very beautiful concert
of the works of Manuel de Falla. With a decision and crispness meriting
high praise, he conducted his remarkable _El Retablo de Maese Pedro_, in
which he had the valuable assistance of Mme Vera Janacopoulos. I also
greatly enjoyed hearing his concerto for harpsichord or piano, which he
himself played on the latter instrument. In my opinion these two works
give proof of incontestable progress in the development of his great
talent. He has, in them, deliberately emancipated himself from the
folklorist influence under which he was in danger of stultifying

About this time I was asked by the Congressional Library in Washington
to compose a ballet for a festival of contemporary music which was to
include the production of several works specially written for the
occasion. The generous American patron, Mrs. Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge,
had undertaken to defray the expense of these artistic productions. I
had a free hand as to subject and was limited only as to length, which
was not to exceed half an hour by reason of the number of musicians to
be heard in the available time. This proposal suited me admirably, for,
as I was more or less free just then it enabled me to carry out an idea
which had long tempted me, to compose a ballet founded on moments or
episodes in Greek mythology plastically interpreted by dancing of the
so-called classical school.

I chose as the theme Apollo Musagetes--that is Apollo as the master of
the Muses, inspiring each of them with her own art. I reduced their
number to three, selecting from among them Calliope, Polyhymnia, and
Terpsichore as being the most characteristic representatives of
choreographic art. Calliope, receiving the stylus and tablets from
Apollo, personifies poetry and its rhythm; Polyhymnia, finger on lips,
represents mime. As Cassiodorus tells us: "Those speaking fingers, that
eloquent silence, those narratives in gesture, are said to have been
invented by the Muse Polyhymnia, wishing to prove that man could express
his will without recourse to words." Finally, Terpsichore, combining in
herself both the rhythm of poetry and the eloquence of gesture, reveals
dancing to the world, and thus among the Muses takes the place of honor
beside the Musagetes.

After a series of allegorical dances, which were to be treated in the
traditional classical style of ballet (_Pas d'action_, _Pas de deux_,
_Variations_, _Coda_), Apollo, in an apotheosis, leads the Muses, with
Terpsichore at their head, to Parnassus, where they were to live ever
afterwards. I prefaced this allegory with a prologue representing the
birth of Apollo. According to the legend, "Leto was with child, and,
feeling the moment of birth at hand, threw her arms about a palm tree
and knelt on the tender green turf, and the earth smiled beneath her,
and the child sprang forth to the light.... Goddesses washed him with
limpid water, gave him for swaddling clothes a white veil of fine
tissue, and bound it with a golden girdle."

When, in my admiration for the beauty of line in classical dancing, I
dreamed of a ballet of this kind, I had specially in my thoughts what is
known as the "white ballet," in which to my mind the very essence of
this art reveals itself in all its purity. I found that the absence of
many-colored effects and of all superfluities produced a wonderful
freshness. This inspired me to write music of an analogous character. It
seemed to me that diatonic composition was the most appropriate for this
purpose, and the austerity of its style determined what my instrumental
ensemble must be. I at once set aside the ordinary orchestra because of
its heterogeneity, with its groups of string, wood, brass, and
percussion instruments. I also discarded ensembles of wood and brass,
the effects of which have really been too much exploited of late, and I
chose strings.

The orchestral use of strings has for some time suffered a sad falling
off. Sometimes they are destined to support dynamic effects, sometimes
reduced to the role of simple "colorists." I plead guilty myself in this
respect. The original purpose of strings was determined in the country
of their origin--Italy--and was first and foremost the cultivation of
_canto_, of melody; but this, for good reasons, has been abandoned.
There was a marked and warrantable reaction in the second half of the
nineteenth century against a decay of melodic art which was congealing
the language of music into hackneyed formulas while simultaneously
neglecting many of the other elements of music. But, as so often
happens, the swing of the pendulum was too violent. The taste for melody
_per se_ having been lost, it was no longer cultivated for its own sake,
and there was therefore no criterion by which its value could be
assessed. It seemed to me that it was not only timely but urgent to turn
once more to the cultivation of this element from a purely musical point
of view. That is why I was so much attracted by the idea of writing
music in which everything should revolve about the melodic principle.
And then the pleasure of immersing oneself again in the multisonorous
euphony of strings and making it penetrate even the furthest fibers of
the polyphonic web! And how could the unadorned design of the classical
dance be better expressed than by the flow of melody as it expands in
the sustained psalmody of strings?

I began the composition of _Apollo_ in July. I was completely absorbed
by the work, and, not wishing to be distracted, postponed till later all
consideration of plans for the concerts which were to be given in the
autumn. I did, however, accept the invitation of my friends the
Lyons'--father and sons--directors of the Pleyel concern, to take part
with Ravel in the opening of their large new concert hall in Paris. At
this ceremony, attended by the highest Government officials of Paris, I
conducted my _Suite de l'Oiseau de Feu_, and Ravel conducted his
_Valse_. It was about this time that the Pleyel firm left the Rue
Rochechouart, where it had been domiciled for nearly a century, and
moved into new premises in the Faubourg St. Honoré, in which they gave
me a studio. Meanwhile, all the rolls of my works made for their
mechanical piano had been sold by Pleyel to the Duo Art (Aeolian)
Company, which signed a new contract with me that necessitated frequent
journeys to London.

At the beginning of 1928 I finished composing the music of _Apollo_. All
that now remained was the final orchestration of the score, and, as this
did not occupy my whole time, I was able to give some of it to my tours
and concerts. From among these I select for mention two at the Salle
Pleyel, _Le Sacre du Printemps_ being included in both programs. These
concerts were important for me because it was the first time that Paris
heard the _Sacre_ under my direction. It is not for me to appraise my
own performance, but I may say that, thanks to the experience I had
gained with all kinds of orchestras on my numerous concert tours, I had
reached a point at which I could obtain exactly what I wanted as I
wanted it.

With regard to the _Sacre_, which I was tackling for the first time, I
was particularly anxious in some of the parts (Glorification of the
Elect, Evocation of Ancestors, Dance of Consecration) to give the bars
their true metric value, and to have them played exactly as they were
written. I lay stress on this point, which may seem to the reader to be
a purely professional detail. But with a few exceptions, such as Monteux
and Ansermet, for example, most conductors are inclined to cope with the
metric difficulties of these passages in such cavalier fashion as to
distort alike my music and my intentions. This is what happens: fearing
to make a mistake in a sequence of bars of varying values, some
conductors do not hesitate to ease their task by treating them as of
equal length. By such methods the strong and weak _tempi_ are obviously
displaced, and it is left to the musicians to perform the onerous task
of readjusting the accents in the new bars as improvised by the
conductors, a task so difficult that even if there is no catastrophe the
listener expects one at any moment, and is immersed in an atmosphere of
intolerable strain.

There are other conductors who do not even try to solve the problem
confronting them, and simply transcribe such music into undecipherable
nonsense, which they try to conceal under violent gesticulations.

In listening to all these "artistic interpretations," one begins to feel
profound respect for the honest skill of the artisan, and it is not
without bitterness that I am compelled to say how seldom one finds
artists who have it and use it, the rest disdaining it as something
hierarchically inferior.

At the end of February I went to Berlin for the first performance of my
_Oedipus_, which was being produced at the Staatsoper under Klemperer.
It was what the Germans call an _Urauffuehrung_, that is to say,
"world-first performance," for it was then, in Berlin, that it was given
for the first time as an opera. The execution of _Oedipus_, which was
followed by _Petroushka_ and _Mavra_, was of the highest order. Musical
life was at that time in full swing in Germany. In contrast with the
pre-war custodians of old dogmas, a fresh public joyfully and gratefully
accepted the new manifestations of contemporary art. Germany was
definitely becoming the center of the musical movement, and spared no
effort to make it succeed. In this connection I should like to mention
the enlightened activity in the realm of music of such organizations as
the _Rundfunk_ (Radio) in Berlin and that of Frankfort-on-Main, and to
note particularly the sustained efforts of the latter's admirable
conductor, Rosbaud, who, by his energy, his taste, his experience, and
devotion, succeeded very quickly in bringing that organization to a very
high artistic pitch. My visits to Germany were then very frequent, and I
always went there with the same pleasure.

After conducting two concerts at Barcelona, where I gave the _Sacre_,
which up to then had not been heard there, I went to Rome to conduct my
_Rossignol_ at the Royal Opera, into which the old Costanzi Theatre had
just been transformed. The management had at first intended to produce
_Oedipus_ also. It had been produced at the Staatsoper in Vienna under
the direction of Schalk just as he was going to Berlin. But the plan had
to be abandoned by reason of the overwhelming number of new productions
for the opening of the Royal Opera.

I then went to Amsterdam to conduct _Oedipus_ at the Concertgebouw,
which was celebrating its fortieth anniversary by a series of sumptuous
musical productions. The fine Concertgebouw orchestra, always at the
same high level, the magnificent male choruses from the Royal Apollo
Society, soloists of the first rank--among them Mme Hélène Sadoven as
Jocasta, Louis van Tulder as Oedipus, and Paul Huf, an excellent
reader--and the way in which my work was received by the public, have
left a particularly precious memory that I recall with much enjoyment.

Soon afterwards I conducted _Oedipus_ in London for the British
Broadcasting Corporation. That institution, with which I had already
worked for some years and with which I continue to be on the best of
terms, merits special attention. A few well informed and cultured
men--among them my friend of long standing, Edward Clark--have been able
to form within this huge eclectic organization a small group which, with
praiseworthy energy, pursues the propaganda of contemporary music,
upholding its cause with invincible tenacity. The B.B.C. has succeeded
in forming a fine orchestra, which certainly rivals the best in the

I should like here to say a few words about English musicians. The fact
that England has not for a long time produced any great creators of
music has given rise to an erroneous opinion concerning the musical
gifts and aptitudes of the English in general. It is alleged that they
are not musical; but this is contrary to my experience. I have nothing
but praise for their ability, precision, and honest, conscientious work,
as shown in all my dealings with them, and I have always been struck by
the sincere and spontaneous enthusiasm which characterizes them in spite
of inept prejudice to the contrary prevalent in other countries. I am
not speaking merely of orchestral artists, but of choruses and solo
singers, all alike devoted to their work. It is therefore not
astonishing that I should always have been more than satisfied with
their rendering of my works, and was so now with _Oedipus_, in which
these qualities were fully displayed.

I seize this opportunity of paying a warm tribute to that veteran
English conductor, Sir Henry Wood, a musician of the first rank, whose
great gifts I had an opportunity of appreciating quite recently--in the
autumn of 1934--at a concert in which I conducted _Perséphone_ and he
most perfectly _L'Oiseau de Feu_ and _Feu d'Artifice_, and accompanied
me with so sure a hand when I played my _Capriccio_.

On my return to Paris I played my _Concerto_ on May 19 under the
excellent direction of Bruno Walter, who, thanks to his exceptional
ability, made my task very pleasant, and I was quite free from anxiety
over the rhythmically dangerous passages which are a stumbling block to
so many conductors.

Some days later I conducted _Oedipus_ at the Salle Pleyel, and this
time, on the concert platform and before an audience attracted solely by
the music, it produced a very different effect from that of its
performance the year before in its setting among the productions of
Russian Ballet.

Apropos of _Oedipus_, I remember hearing about that time that it had
been given in Leningrad in the winter at a concert of the State Choral
Academy under the direction of Klimoff, who had previously given _Les
Noces_. In regard to the theatre in Russia I have been less fortunate.
Under the old regime, nothing of mine was ever produced. The new regime
at first seemed to be interested in my music. The state theatres
produced my ballets--_Petroushka_, _L'Oiseau de Feu_, and _Pulcinella_.
A clumsy attempt to stage _Renard_ was a failure, and the piece was soon
taken off. But after that, which was ten years ago, only _Petroushka_
retained a place in the repertories, and it was rarely given at that. As
for my other works, _Le Sacre_, _Les Noces_, _Le Soldat_, _Le Baiser de
la Fée_, and my latest creation, _Perséphone_, have not yet seen the
footlights in Russia. From this I conclude that a change of regime
cannot change the truth of the old adage that no man is a prophet in his
own country. One has only to recall the United States to show this.
There, in the space of a few years, _Le Sacre_, _Les Noces_, and
_Oedipus_ have been successfully produced by Leopold Stokowski, under
the auspices of the League of Composers; _Petroushka_ and _Rossignol_ at
the Metropolitan Opera House, New York; and, still more recently,
_Mavra_, in Philadelphia, under the direction of Alexander Smallens.

My ballet, _Apollo Musagetes_, was given in Washington for the first
time on April 27, with Adolphe Bolm's choreography. As I was not there I
cannot say anything about it. What interested me far more was its first
performance in Paris at Diaghileff's theatre, inasmuch as I was myself
to conduct the music. My orchestra was so small that I was able without
difficulty to have four rehearsals. This gave me a chance to make a
close study of the score with the musicians recruited from the great
symphonic orchestras of Paris, whom I knew well, as I had frequently
worked with them.

As I have already mentioned, _Apollo_ was composed for string orchestra.
My music demanded six groups instead of the quartet, as it is usually
called, but, to be more exact, "quintet," of the ordinary orchestra,
which is composed of first and second violins, violas, violoncellos, and
double bass. I therefore added to the regular ensemble a sixth group,
which was to be of second violoncellos. I thus formed an instrumental
sextet, each group of which had a strictly defined part. This required
the establishment of a well-proportioned gradation in the matter of the
number of instruments for each group.

The importance of these proportions for the clarity and plasticity of
the musical line was very clearly shown at a rehearsal of _Apollo_
conducted by Klemperer in Berlin. From the very first pages I was struck
by both the confusion of sound and the excessive resonance. Far from
standing out in the ensemble, the various parts merged in it to such an
extent that everything seemed drowned in an indistinct buzzing. And this
happened notwithstanding the fact that the conductor knew the score
perfectly, and scrupulously observed my movements and nuances. It was
simply a matter of the proportions of which I have just been speaking,
and which had not been foreseen. I drew Klemperer's attention to it
immediately, and the necessary adjustments were made. His ensemble had
consisted of sixteen first and fourteen second violins, ten violas, four
first and four second violoncellos, and six double basses. The new
arrangement was eight first and eight second violins, six violas, four
first and four second violoncellos, and four double basses. The
alteration immediately produced the desired effect. Everything became
sharp and clear.

How often we composers are at the mercy of things of that sort, which
seem so insignificant at first sight! How often it is just they that
determine the impression made on the listener and decide the very
success of the piece! Naturally the public does not understand, and
judges the piece by the way in which it is presented. Composers may well
envy the lot of painters, sculptors, and writers, who communicate
directly with their public without having recourse to intermediaries.

On June 12 I conducted the first production of _Apollo Musagetes_ at the
Théatre Sarah Bernhardt in Paris. As a stage performance I got more
satisfaction from this than from _Les Noces_, which was the latest thing
that Diaghileff had had from me. Georges Balanchine, as ballet master,
had arranged the dances exactly as I had wished--that is to say, in
accordance with the classical school. From that point of view it was a
complete success, and it was the first attempt to revive academic
dancing in a work actually composed for the purpose. Balanchine, who had
already given proof of great proficiency and imagination in his ballet
productions, notably in the charming _Barabau_ by Rieti, had designed
for the choreography of Apollo groups, movements, and lines of great
dignity and plastic elegance as inspired by the beauty of classical
forms. As a thorough musician--he had studied at the St. Petersburg
Conservatoire--he had had no difficulty in grasping the smallest details
of my music, and his beautiful choreography clearly expressed my
meaning. As for the dancers, they were beyond all praise. The graceful
Nikitina with her purity of line alternating with the enchanting
Danilova in the role of Terpsichore; Tchernichova and Doubrovska, those
custodians of the best classical traditions; finally, Serge Lifar, then
still quite young, conscientious, natural, spontaneous, and full of
serious enthusiasm for his art--all these formed an unforgettable
company. But my satisfaction was less complete in the matter of costume
and _décor_, in which I did not see eye to eye with Diaghileff. As I
have already said, I had pictured it to myself as danced in short white
ballet skirts in a severely conventionalized theatrical landscape devoid
of all fantastic embellishment such as would have been out of keeping
with my primary conception. But Diaghileff, afraid of the extreme
simplicity of my idea, and always on the lookout for something new,
wished to enhance the spectacular side, and entrusted scenery and
costumes to a provincial painter, little known to the Paris
public--André Bauchant, who, in his remote village, indulged in a genre
of painting somewhat in the style of the _douanier_ Rousseau. What he
produced was interesting, but, as I had expected, it in no way suited my

My work was very well received, and its success was greater than I had
expected, seeing that the music of _Apollo_ lacked those elements which
evoked the enthusiasm of the public at a first hearing.

Directly after the Paris performance of _Apollo_ I went to conduct it at
its first London appearance. As always in England, where the Russian
Ballet enjoys established and unwavering popularity, the piece was a
great success, but it would be impossible to say in what degree this was
due to music, author, dancers, choreography, subject, or scenery.

There was no rest for me that summer. I spent it at Echarvines, on the
Lake of Annecy, where I had taken a room in a mason's cottage off the
main road, and there I had installed a piano. I can never concentrate on
my work if I am where I can be overheard, so that it was impossible for
me to settle down with my piano in the boarding house in which I was
staying with my family. I therefore chose this isolated place in the
hope of finding peace and solitude, free from all importunate neighbors.
I was cruelly deceived. The workman who had let the room to me occupied
the rest of the house with his wife and child. He went out in the
morning, and all was quiet till he returned at noon. The family then sat
down to dinner. An acrid and nauseating smell of garlic and rancid oil
came through the chinks of the partition which separated me from them,
and made me feel sick. After an exchange of bitter words, the mason
would lose his temper and begin to swear at his wife and child,
terrifying them with his threats. The wife would start by answering, and
then, bursting into sobs, would pick up the screaming infant and rush
out, followed by her husband. This was repeated every day with hopeless
regularity, so that the last hour of my morning's work was always filled
with agonizing apprehension. Fortunately there was no need for me to
return to the house in the afternoon, as I devoted that to work for
which I did not require a piano.

One evening, when my sons and I were sitting quietly on the verandah of
our boarding house, the silence of the night was suddenly shattered by
piercing shrieks for help. I at once recognized the voice of the mason's
wife, and my sons and I hurried across the little meadow which separated
us from the house from which the cries were coming. But all was quiet;
evidently our footsteps had been heard. Next day, at the request of the
proprietor of our boarding house, the mayor of the village, who was
aware of the goings-on of this charming family, expostulated with this
desperate character over his cruelty to his wife. Whereupon the famous
scene from Molière's _Médecin Malgré Lui_ was repeated. Like Martine,
the woman resolutely took her husband's part and declared that she had
no reason to complain of him.

It was in that atmosphere that I worked at my _Baiser de la Fée_.

Just as I was finishing the music of Apollo at the end of the preceding
year (1927), I received from Mme Ida Rubinstein a proposal to compose a
ballet for her repertory. The painter Alexandre Benois, who did some
work for her, submitted two plans, one of which seemed very likely to
attract me. The idea was that I should compose something inspired by the
music of Tchaikovsky. My well-known fondness for this composer, and,
still more, the fact that November, the time fixed for the performance,
would mark the thirty-fifth anniversary of his death, induced me to
accept the offer. It would give me an opportunity of paying my heartfelt
homage to Tchaikovsky's wonderful talent.

As I was free to choose both the subject and scenario of the ballet, I
began to search for them, in view of the characteristic trend of
Tchaikovsky's music, in the literature of the nineteenth century. With
that aim, I turned to a great poet with a gentle, sensitive soul whose
imaginative mind was wonderfully akin to that of the musician. I refer
to Hans Christian Andersen, with whom in this respect Tchaikovsky had so
much in common. To recall _La Belle au Bois Dormant_, _Casse Noisette_,
_Le Lac des Cygnes_, _Pique Dame_, and many pieces of his symphonic work
is enough to show the extent of his fondness for the fantastic.

In turning over the pages of Andersen with which I was fairly familiar,
I came across a story I had completely forgotten, which struck me as
being the very thing for the idea that I wanted to express. It was the
very beautiful story known to us as _The Ice Maiden_. I chose that as my
theme, and worked out the story on the following lines. A fairy imprints
her magic kiss on a child at birth and parts it from its mother. Twenty
years later, when the youth has attained the very zenith of his good
fortune, she repeats the fatal kiss and carries him off to live in
supreme happiness with her ever afterwards. As my object was to
commemorate the work of Tchaikovsky, this subject seemed to me to be
particularly appropriate as an allegory, the muse having similarly
branded Tchaikovsky with her fatal kiss, and the magic imprint has made
itself felt in all the musical creations of this great artist.

Although I gave full liberty to painter and choreographer in the staging
of my composition, my innermost desire was that it should be presented
in classical form, after the manner of _Apollo_. I pictured all the
fantastic roles as danced in white ballet skirts, and the rustic scenes
as taking place in a Swiss landscape, with some of the performers
dressed in the manner of early tourists and mingling with the friendly
villagers in the good old theatrical tradition.

As the date of Mme Rubinstein's performances was not far off, I barely
left home all that summer except for a concert at Scheveningen, for I
had not too much time in which to execute so complicated a piece of
work. As I hate being hurried, and was afraid of unforeseen obstacles
towards the finish, I seized every hour I could to go ahead with my
composition, thus leaving as little as possible to the last moments. I
much preferred tiring myself at the beginning to being hurried, and was
afraid of unforeseen obstacles towards the finish, I seized every hour I
could to go ahead with my composition, thus leaving as little as
possible to the last moments. I much preferred tiring myself at the
beginning to being hurried at the end.

The following incident indicates how loath I was to waste time. The day
on which I went to Paris on my way back to Nice, I found, on waking up
in the train, that we were not in the suburbs of Paris, but in some
wholly unexpected spot. It turned out that on account of the great
number of extras put on by the railway to cope with the congestion
caused by the end of the holidays our train had been shunted to a siding
at Nevers, and I discovered that we should be four hours late in
reaching Paris. Far from a station and on an empty stomach--not even a
scrap of bread was available--I was nevertheless unperturbed by this
mishap, and turned it to profit by working in my compartment during
those four hours.

To finish and orchestrate my music in the short time available was so
heavy a task that I was unable to follow the work of Bronislava
Nijinska, who was composing the choreography in Paris bit by bit as I
sent the parts from Echarvines as completed. Owing to this, it was not
until just before the first performance that I saw her work, and by that
time all the principal scenes had been fixed. I found some of the scenes
successful and worthy of Nijinska's talent. But there was, on the other
hand, a good deal of which I could not approve, and which, had I been
present at the moment of their composition, I should have tried to get
altered. But it was now too late for any interference on my part, and I
had, whether I liked it or not, to leave things as they were. It is
hardly surprising in these circumstances that the choreography of _Le
Baiser de la Fée_ left me cold.

I was generously given four rehearsals with the admirable orchestra of
the Opera. They were arduous, because at each of them I had to contend
with the dreadful system of deputizing so fatal to the music when at
each rehearsal musicians, without any warning, send others to take their
place. One has only to recall the amusing story so often repeated, which
is attributed to various conductors. Exasperated by seeing new faces at
the instrumentalists' music stands at every rehearsal, he draws their
attention to it, and suggests that they should follow the example of the
soloist who regularly attends every rehearsal. At that moment the
soloist rises, thanks the conductor, and informs him that on the day of
the concert he will, to his great regret, have to send a deputy.

I conducted this ballet twice at the Paris Opera, on November 27 and
December 4, at Mme Rubinstein's performances. It was also given once at
the Théatre de la Monnaie at Brussels, and once at Monte Carlo. On both
these last occasions it was admirably conducted; in Brussels by Corneil
de Thoran, and at Monte Carlo by Gustave Cloez. A final performance was
given at the Scala at Milan about the same time, and after that Mme
Rubinstein removed it from her repertory. A few years later, Bronislava
Nijinska produced it again at the Teatro Colon at Buenos Aires, where
she had already given _Les Noces_, and where both these works had a
great success. Nor was this an isolated incident. In the course of the
last eight years most of my symphonic and stage compositions have
frequently played at Buenos Aires, and, thanks to Ansermet's conducting,
the public has been able to get a good idea of them.

As with my other ballets, I made an orchestral suite from the music of
_Le Baiser de la Fée_, which can be played without much difficulty by
reason of the restricted size of the orchestra required. I often conduct
this suite myself, and I like doing so, all the more because in it I
tried a style of writing and orchestration which was new to me, and was
one by means of which the music could be appreciated at the first

At the beginning of the 1928-1929 season a new organization came into
being, known as the Orchestre Symphonique de Paris, or O.S.P., created
by Ansermet, who became its principal conductor. At its invitation, I
conducted two concerts at the Théatre des Champs-Elysées with this new
group, and it was a joy to work with these young musicians, who were so
well disciplined and so full of goodwill, and who were forbidden to
indulge the odious habit of deputizing, of which all conductors complain
and from which I suffered so much at the rehearsals of _Le Baiser de la

About this time I signed a contract for several years with the great
Columbia Gramophone Company, for which I was exclusively to record my
work both as pianist and conductor, year by year. This work greatly
interested me, for here, far better than with piano rolls, I was able to
express all my intentions with real exactitude.

Consequently these records, very successful from a technical point of
view, have the importance of documents which can serve as guides to all
executants of my music. Unfortunately, very few conductors avail
themselves of them. Some do not even inquire whether such records exist.
Doubtless their dignity prevents others from consulting them, especially
since if once they knew the record they could not with a clear
conscience conduct as they liked. Is it not amazing that in our times,
when a sure means which is accessible to all, has been found of learning
exactly how the author demands his work to be executed, there should
still be those who will not take any notice of such means, but persist
in inserting concoctions of their own vintage?

Unfortunately, therefore, the rendering recorded by the author fails to
achieve its most important object--that of safeguarding his work by
establishing the manner in which it ought to be played. This is all the
more regrettable since it is not a question of a haphazard gramophone
record of just any performance. Far from that, the very purpose of the
work on these records is the elimination of all chance elements by
selecting from among the different records those which are most
successful. It is obvious that in even the very best records one may
come across certain defects such as crackling, a rough surface,
excessive or insufficient resonance. But these defects, which, for that
matter, can be more or less corrected by the gramophone and the choice
of the needle, do not in the least affect the essential thing, without
which it would be impossible to form any idea of the composition--I
refer to the pace of the movements and their relationship to one

When one thinks of the complexity of making such records, of all the
difficulties it presents, of all the accidents to which it is exposed,
the constant nervous strain caused by the knowledge that one is
continuously at the mercy of some possible stroke of bad luck, some
extraneous noise by reason of which it may all have to be done over
again, how can one help being embittered by the thought that the fruit
of so much labor will be so little used, even as a document, by the very
persons who should be most interested?

One cannot even pretend that the easygoing fashion in which
"interpreters" treat their contemporaries is because they feel that
these contemporaries have not sufficient reputation to matter. The old
masters, the classics, are subject to just the same treatment
notwithstanding all their authority. It is enough to cite Beethoven and
to take as an illustration his Eighth Symphony, which bears the
composer's own precise metronomic directions. But are they heeded? There
are as many different renderings as there are conductors! "Have you
heard _my_ Fifth, _my_ Eighth?"--that is a phrase that has become quite
usual in the mouths of these gentlemen, and their mentality could not be
better exemplified.

But, no matter how disappointing the work is when regarded from this
point of view, I do not for a moment regret the time and effort spent on
it. It gives me the satisfaction of knowing that everyone who listens to
my records hears my music free from any distortion of my thought, at
least in its essential elements. Moreover, the work did a good deal to
develop my technique as a conductor. The frequent repetition of a
fragment or even of an entire piece, the sustained effort to allow not
the slightest detail to escape attention, as may happen for lack of time
at any ordinary rehearsal, the necessity of observing absolute precision
of movement as strictly determined by the timing--all this is a hard
school in which a musician obtains very valuable training and learns
much that is extremely useful.

In the domain of music the importance and influence of its dissemination
by mechanical means, such as the record and the radio--those redoubtable
triumphs of modern science which will probably undergo still further
development--make them worthy of the closest investigation. The
facilities that they offer to composers and executants alike for
reaching great numbers of listeners, and the opportunities that they
give to those listeners of acquainting themselves with works they have
not heard, are obviously indisputable advantages. But one must not
overlook the fact that such advantages are attended by serious danger.
In John Sebastian Bach's day it was necessary for him to walk ten miles
to a neighboring town to hear Buxtehude play his works. Today anyone,
living no matter where, has only to turn a knob or put on a record to
hear what he likes. Indeed, it is in just this incredible facility, this
lack of necessity for any effort, that the evil of this so-called
progress lies. For in music, more than in any other branch of art,
understanding is given only to those who make an active effort. Passive
receptivity is not enough. To listen to certain combinations of sound
and automatically become accustomed to them does not necessarily imply
that they have been heard and understood. For one can listen without
hearing, just as one can look without seeing. The absence of active
effort and the liking acquired for this facility make for laziness. The
radio has got rid of the necessity which existed in Bach's day for
getting out of one's armchair. Nor are listeners any longer impelled to
play themselves, or to spend time on learning an instrument in order to
acquire a knowledge of musical literature. The wireless and the
gramophone do all that. And thus the active faculties of listeners,
without which one cannot assimilate music, gradually become atrophied
from lack of use. This creeping paralysis entails very serious
consequences. Oversaturated with sounds, _blasé_ even before
combinations of the utmost variety, listeners fall into a kind of torpor
which deprives them of all power of discrimination and makes them
indifferent to the quality of the pieces presented. It is more than
likely that such irrational overfeeding will make them lose all appetite
and relish for music. There will, of course, always be exceptions,
individuals who will know how to select from the mass those things that
appeal to them. But for the majority of listeners there is every reason
to fear that, far from developing a love and understanding of music, the
modern methods of dissemination will have a diametrically opposite
effect--that is to say, the production of indifference, inability to
understand, to appreciate, or to undergo any worthy reaction.

In addition, there is the musical deception arising from the
substitution for the actual playing of a reproduction, whether on record
or film or by wireless transmission from a distance. It is the same
difference as that between the _ersatz_ and the authentic. The danger
lies in the very fact that there is always a far greater consumption of
the _ersatz_, which, it must be remembered, is far from being identical
with its model. The continuous habit of listening to changed and
sometimes distorted timbres spoils the ear, so that it gradually loses
all capacity for enjoying natural musical sounds.

All these considerations may seem unexpected in coming from one who has
worked so much, and is still working, in this field. I think that I have
sufficiently stressed the instructional value that I unreservedly
ascribe to this means of musical reproduction; but that does not prevent
me from seeing its negative sides, and I anxiously ask myself whether
they are sufficiently outweighed by the positive advantages to enable
one to face them with impunity.


I have now brought my chronicle up to the year 1929, a year overshadowed
by a great and grievous event--the passing of Diaghileff. He died on
August 19, but his loss moved me so profoundly that it dwarfs in my
memory all the other events of that year. I shall, therefore, somewhat
anticipate the chronology of my narrative in order to speak here of my
late friend.

At the beginning of my career he was the first to single me out for
encouragement, and he gave me real and valuable assistance. Not only did
he like my music and believe in my development, but he did his utmost to
make the public appreciate me. He was genuinely attracted by what I was
then writing, and it gave him real pleasure to produce my work, and,
indeed, to force it on the more rebellious of my listeners, as for
example, in the case of the _Sacre du Printemps_. These feelings of his,
and the zeal which characterized them, naturally evoked in me a
reciprocal sense of gratitude, deep attachment, and admiration for his
sensitive comprehension, his ardent enthusiasm, and the indomitable fire
with which he put things into practice.

Our friendship, which lasted for almost twenty years, was, alas! marked
from time to time by conflicts which, as I have already said, were due
to his extreme jealousy. It is obvious that my relations with Diaghileff
could not but undergo a certain change in the later years in view of the
broadening of the field of my personal and independent activities, and
of the fact that my collaboration with the Russian Ballet had lost the
continuity it had earlier enjoyed. There was less affinity than before
in our ideas and opinions, which, as time went on, frequently developed
in divergent directions. "Modernism" at any price, cloaking a fear of
not being in the vanguard; the search for something sensational;
uncertainty as to what line to take--these things wrapped Diaghileff in
a morbid atmosphere of painful gropings. All this prevented me from
being in sympathy with everything he did, and this made us less frank in
our relations with each other. Rather than upset him, I evaded these
questions, especially as my arguments would have served no useful
purpose. It is true that with age and ill health his self-assurance had
decreased, but not his temperament or his habitual obstinacy, and he
would certainly have persisted in a heated defense of things which I
felt sure that he was not certain about in his innermost being.

My last contact with Diaghileff was in connection with _Renard_, which
he was re-creating for his spring season at the Théatre Sarah Bernhardt.
Without entering here into a discussion of the new setting, I must say
that I missed the first version created by Nijinska in 1922, of which I
have already spoken.

After that season in Paris I saw him only once--casually, and at a
distance on the platform of the Gare du Nord, where we were both taking
the train for London. Six weeks later the news of his death reached me
at Echarvines, where I was spending the summer as I had done the year
before. I had been out with my sons to see Prokofiev, who was living in
the neighborhood. On returning late, we were met by my wife, who had sat
up to give us the sad news which had been telegraphed from Venice.

I was not entirely unprepared for his death. I knew that he had
diabetes, though I did not know that it was so serious as to be
dangerous, especially as at his age his robust constitution should have
enabled him to combat the disease for some years. His physical condition
had not, therefore, caused me any alarm. But, of late, in watching the
usual activities of his everyday life, I had formed the impression that
his moral forces were rapidly disintegrating, and I was haunted by the
thought that he had reached the limit of his life. That is why his
death, though it caused me acute grief as our final parting, did not
greatly surprise me.

At the moment I naturally did not give much thought to an estimate of
the influence of Diaghileff's activity, indeed of his very life, in the
world of art. I gave myself up to my grief, mourning a friend, a
brother, whom I should never see again.

This separation gave rise to many feelings, many memories, which were
dear to me. It is only today, with the passing of the years, that one
begins to realize everywhere and in everything what a terrible void was
created by the disappearance of this colossal figure, whose greatness
can only be measured fully by the fact that it is impossible to replace
him. The truth of the matter is that everything that is original is
irreplaceable. I recall this fine phrase of the painter Constantine
Korovine: "I thank you," he said one day to Diaghileff, "I thank you for
being alive."

I devoted most of 1929 to the composition of my _Capriccio_, which I had
begun the Christmas before. As so often happened with me, this work was
several times interrupted by unavoidable journeys. In February I went to
conduct _Oedipus_ at a concert in the Dresden Opera House, where I was
particularly impressed by the incomparable finish of the Dresdner
Lehrergesangsverein choirs. _Oedipus_ was the sole item on the program,
and was given twice on the same day--at a public general rehearsal at
noon, and at the concert itself in the evening.

A little later La Société Philharmonique de Paris asked me to conduct a
concert of my chamber music. It took place at the Salle Pleyel on March
5. The program included _L'Histoire d'un Soldat_ and the _Octuor_, and I
myself played my _Sonate_ and my _Sérénade_ for the piano. I take this
opportunity of expressing my appreciation of that admirable group of
Paris soloists who have for many years lent their talent and their
wonderful enthusiasm to enhance the value of my work, whether in
concerts, in the theatre, or in the fatiguing process of making records.
I want particularly to mention Darieu and Merckel (violins), Boussagol
(double bass), Moyse (flute), Gaudeau (clarinet), Dherin and Grandmaison
(bassoons), Vignal and Foveau (trumpets), Delbos and Tudesque
(trombones), and Morel (percussion).

My visits to London stand out among the pleasant memories of my journeys
that year. London is so delightful at the beginning of the summer, with
its green lawns, the beautiful trees in the parks, the river on its
outskirts gay with numberless boats, and everywhere the frank good humor
of healthy athletic youth. In such an atmosphere work is easy, and I
much enjoyed playing my _Concerto_ with that brilliant English musician,
Eugene Goossens, as conductor, and myself conducting _Apollo_ and--for
the first time in England--_Le Baiser de la Fée_ for the B.B.C.

The enjoyment of my few days in London was enhanced by the presence of
Willy Strecker, one of the owners of the publishing firm of Schott Söhne
at Mainz, a clever, cultured man with whom, apart from business
relations, I am on the friendliest terms, as indeed I am with all his
charming family, who always give me the kindest welcome when I go to
Wiesbaden, where they live.

At that time Diaghileff's Russian Ballet was taking part in the
_Festspiele_ season in Berlin. Their performances were being given at
the two state theatres--at the Opera, Unter den Linden, and at the
Charlottenburg Opera. _Le Sacre du Printemps_ and _Apollo_ were among
the works which had their first stage performance there. A few days
earlier Klemperer had given _Apollo_ a first hearing at a concert of my
music, in which I played my _Concerto_. I was prevented from seeing the
Diaghileff performances, as I was urgently wanted in Paris to make some
gramophone records, and I did not regret it. I knew that the ballets
were to come at the end of the _Festspiele_, when the orchestras of the
two theatres would be worn out by their heavy work throughout the
festival season. Besides, as always happened when the Ballet was on
tour, all that the theatres or impresarios cared about was the scenic
effects, troubling very little about the musical aspect, though trying
to find composers whose names would attract the public. In this case the
same conditions prevailed, so that, notwithstanding all the efforts of a
conductor like Ansermet, I expect that my absence saved me from a
somewhat painful impression.

I worked at my _Capriccio_ all summer and finished it at the end of
September. I played it for the first time on December 6 at a Paris
Symphony Orchestra concert, Ansermet conducting. I had so often been
asked in the course of the last few years to play my _Concerto_ (this I
had already done no fewer than forty times) that I thought that it was
time to give the public another work for piano and orchestra. That is
why I wrote another concerto, which I called _Capriccio_, that name
seeming to indicate best the character of the music. I had in mind the
definition of a _capriccio_ given by Praetorius, the celebrated musical
authority of the eighteenth century. He regarded it as a synonym of the
_fantasia_, which was a free form made up of _fugato_ instrumental
passages. This form enabled me to develop my music by the juxtaposition
of episodes of various kinds which follow one another and by their very
nature give the piece that aspect of caprice from which it takes its

There is little wonder that, while working at my _Capriccio_, I should
find my thoughts dominated by that prince of music, Carl Maria von
Weber, whose genius admirably lent itself to this manner. Alas! no one
thought of calling him a prince in his lifetime! I cannot refrain from
quoting (authentically) the startling opinion that the celebrated
Viennese dramatic poet, Franz Grillparzer, had of _Euryanthe_ and its
composer; I found it in a striking anthology of classical criticism
published by Schott. It runs as follows: "What I had feared on the
appearance of _Freischütz_ seems now to be confirmed. Weber certainly
has a poetical mind, but he is no musician. Not a trace of melody, not
merely of pleasing melody but of any sort of melody.... Tatters of ideas
held together solely by the text, without any inherent musical sequence.
There is no invention; even the way in which the libretto is handled is
devoid of originality. A total lack of arrangement and color.... This
music is horrible. This inversion of euphony, this violation of beauty,
would in ancient Greece have been punished by the state with penal
sanctions. Such music is contrary to police regulations. It would give
birth to monstrosities if it managed to get about."

It is quite certain that no one would dream nowadays of sharing
Grillparzer's indignation. Far from that; those who consider themselves
advanced, if they know Weber, and still more if they do not know him,
make a merit of treating him with contempt as a musician who is too
easy, out of date, and at the best can appeal only to old fogies. Such
an attitude might perhaps be understandable on the part of those who are
musically illiterate, and whose self-assurance is too often equaled only
by their incompetence. But what can be said for professional musicians
when they are capable of expressing such opinions as, for example, those
I have heard from Scriabine? It is true that he was not speaking of
Weber, but of Schubert, but that does not alter the case. One day when
Scriabine with his usual emphasis was pouring out ideological
verbosities concerning the sublimity of art and its great pontiffs, I,
on my side, began to praise the grace and elegance of Schubert's
waltzes, which I was replaying at the time with real pleasure. With an
ironical smile of commiseration he said: "Schubert? But look here, that
is only fit to be strummed on the piano by little girls!"

The Boston Symphony Orchestra decided that winter to celebrate its
fiftieth anniversary, which would fall in 1930, by a series of
festivals. This famous organization wished to give them a special
interest by presenting symphonic works specially written for the
occasion by contemporary composers. Koussevitzky, who has been at the
head of this admirable orchestra for years, asked me to cooperate by
composing a symphony for them.

The idea of writing a symphonic work of some length had been present in
my mind for a long time, and I therefore gladly accepted a proposal so
thoroughly in accord with my wishes. I had a free hand alike as to the
form of the work and as to the means of execution I might think
necessary. I was tied only by the date for the delivery of the score,
but that allowed me ample time.

Symphonic form as bequeathed to us by the nineteenth century held little
attraction for me, inasmuch as it had flourished in a period the
language and ideas of which were all the more foreign to us because it
was the period from which we emerged. As in the case of my _Sonate_, I
wanted to create an organic whole without conforming to the various
models adopted by custom, but still retaining the periodic order by
which the symphony is distinguished from the suite, the latter being
simply a succession of pieces varying in character.

I also had under consideration the sound material with which to build my
edifice. My idea was that my symphony should be a work with great
contrapuntal development, and for that it was necessary to increase the
media at my disposal. I finally decided on a choral and instrumental
ensemble in which the two elements should be on an equal footing,
neither of them outweighing the other. In this instance my point of view
as to the mutual relationship of the vocal and instrumental sections
coincided with that of the masters of contrapuntal music, who also
treated them as equals, and neither reduced the role of the choruses to
that of homophonous chant nor the function of the instrumental ensemble
to that of an accompaniment.

I sought for my words, since they were to be sung, among those which had
been written for singing. And quite naturally my first idea was to have
recourse to the Psalms. Soon after the first performance of my symphony,
a criticism was forwarded to me in which its author asked: "Has the
composer attempted to be Hebrew in his music--Hebrew in spirit, after
the manner of Ernest Bloch, but without too much that is reminiscent of
the synagogue?"

This gentleman does not seem to know that after two thousand years the
Psalms are not necessarily associated with the synagogue, but are the
main foundation of the prayers, orisons, and chants of the Church. But,
apart from his real or pretended ignorance, does not the ridiculous
question he asks reveal only too clearly a mentality that one encounters
more and more frequently today? Apparently people have lost all capacity
to treat the Holy Scriptures otherwise than from the point of view of
ethnography, history, or picturesqueness. That anyone should take his
inspiration from the Psalms without giving a thought to these side
issues appears to be incredible to them, and so they demand
explanations. Yet it seems quite natural to them that a piece of jazz
should be called _Alleluia_. All these misunderstandings arise from the
fact that people will always insist upon looking in music for something
that is not there. The main thing for them is to know what the piece
expresses, and what the author had in mind when he composed it. They
never seem to understand that music has an entity of its own apart from
anything that it may suggest to them. In other words, music interests
them in so far as it touches on elements outside it while evoking
sensations with which they are familiar.

Most people like music because it gives them certain emotions, such as
joy, grief, sadness, an image of nature, a subject for daydreams,
or--still better--oblivion from "everyday life." They want a
drug--"dope." It matters little whether this way of thinking of music is
expressed directly or is wrapped up in a veil of artificial
circumlocutions. Music would not be worth much if it were reduced to
such an end. When people have learned to love music for itself, when
they listen with other ears, their enjoyment will be of a far higher and
more potent order, and they will be able to judge it on a higher plane
and realize its intrinsic value. Obviously such an attitude presupposes
a certain degree of musical development and intellectual culture, but
that is not very difficult of attainment. Unfortunately, the teaching of
music, with a few exceptions, is bad from the beginning. One has only to
think of all the sentimental twaddle so often talked about Chopin,
Beethoven, and even about Bach--and that in schools for the training of
professional musicians! Those tedious commentaries on the side issues of
music not only do not facilitate its understanding, but, on the
contrary, are a serious obstacle which prevents the understanding of its
essence and substance.

All these considerations were evoked by my _Symphonie des Psaumes_
because, both by the public and the press, the attitude I have just
described was specially manifested in regard to that work.
Notwithstanding the interest aroused by the composition, I noticed a
certain perplexity caused, not by the music as such, but by the
inability of listeners to understand the reason which had led me to
compose a symphony in a spirit which found no echo in their mentality.

As always of late years, my work on the _Symphonie des Psaumes_, begun
about the New Year, suffered many interruptions by reason of the
numerous European concerts in which I took part either as pianist or
conductor. The _Capriccio_, my latest composition, was already in demand
in various towns. I had to play it at Berlin, Leipzig, Bucharest,
Prague, and Winterthur. Moreover, I had to conduct concerts at
Dusseldorf, Brussels, and Amsterdam. But by the beginning of the summer
I was at last able to devote all my time to the symphony, of which, so
far, I had finished only one part. I had to write the whole of the other
two parts, and did so, partly at Nice, partly at Charavines, where I
spent the latter part of the summer on the shore of the little Lake
Paladru. I put the final touches to the music on August 15, and was then
able to concentrate quietly on the orchestration which I had begun at

My peregrinations began again in the autumn, and continued till
December. I toured all central Europe, beginning with Switzerland
(Basle, Zurich, Lausanne, Geneva), and ending with Brussels and
Amsterdam. Besides that, and in addition to Berlin and Vienna, I visited
Mainz, Wiesbaden, Bremen, Munich, Nuremberg, Frankfort-on-Main, and
Mannheim, nearly always playing my _Capriccio_ or conducting my works.

The first European audition of the _Symphonie des Psaumes_ took place at
the Palais des Beaux Arts of Brussels, under the direction of Ansermet.
Koussevitzky gave it in Boston at the same time. The Brussels concert at
which I played my _Capriccio_, which was repeated on the following day,
has left a very pleasant memory. Many friends had come from Paris to
hear my new work, and I was deeply touched by their sympathy and the
warmth of the reception that the symphony received from the public. As
was to be expected, the execution was perfect, and the admirable
choruses of the Société Philharmonique once more lived up to the
reputation for expert proficiency which they so justly enjoy in Belgium.

While at Mainz and Wiesbaden I frequently saw Willy Strecker. He talked
to me a good deal about a young violinist, Samuel Dushkin, with whom he
had become very friendly and whom I had never met. In the course of our
conversations he asked me whether I should care to write something for
the violin, adding that in Dushkin I should find a remarkable executant.
I hesitated at first, because I am not a violinist, and I was afraid
that my slight knowledge of that instrument would not be sufficient to
enable me to solve the many problems which would necessarily arise in
the course of a major work specially composed for it. But Willy Strecker
allayed my doubts by assuring me that Dushkin would place himself
entirely at my disposal in order to furnish any technical details I
might require. Under such conditions the plan was very alluring,
particularly as it would give me a chance of studying seriously the
special technique of the violin. When he learned that I had in principle
accepted Strecker's proposal, Dushkin came to Wiesbaden to make my
acquaintance. I had not previously met him or heard him play. All I knew
was that he had studied the violin and music in general in America,
where, in his early childhood, he had been adopted by the American
composer, Blair Fairchild, a man of great distinction, rare kindness,
and a mind remarkable for its delicate sensibility.

From our first meeting I could see that Dushkin was all that Willy
Strecker had said. Before knowing him I had been a little doubtful, in
spite of the weight that I attached to the recommendations of a man of
such finished culture as my friend Strecker. I was afraid of Dushkin as
a virtuoso. I knew that for virtuosi there were temptations and dangers
that they were not all capable of overcoming. In order to succeed they
are obliged to seek immediate triumphs and to lend themselves to the
wishes of the public, the great majority of whom demand sensational
effects from the player. This preoccupation naturally influences their
taste, their choice of music, and their manner of treating the piece
selected. How many admirable compositions, for instance, are set aside
because they do not offer the player any opportunity of shining with
facile brilliancy! Unfortunately, they often cannot help themselves,
fearing the competition of their rivals and, to be frank, the loss of
their bread and butter.

Dushkin is certainly an exception in this respect among many of his
fellow players, and I was very glad to find in him, besides his
remarkable gifts as a born violinist, a musical culture, a delicate
understanding, and--in the exercise of his profession--an abnegation
that is very rare. His beautiful mastery of technique comes from the
magnificent school of Leopold Auer, that marvelous teacher to whose
instruction we owe nearly all the celebrated violinists of today. A Jew,
like the great majority of leading violinists, Dushkin possesses all
those innate gifts which make representatives of that race the
unquestionable masters of the violin. The greatest names among these
virtuosi have in fact a Jewish sound. Their owners should be proud of
them and it is difficult to understand why most of them persist in
prefixing Russian diminutives such as are generally used only among
intimates. Instead of Alexander they call themselves Sacha; instead of
Jacob or James, Yasha; instead of Michael, Misha. Being ignorant of the
language and usages of Russia, foreigners can have no idea of how such
lack of taste jars. It is as though one spoke of Julot Massenet or Popol

I began the composition of the first part of my _Concerto pour Violon_
early in 1931. I had devoted about a month to it when I was obliged to
leave it for the time being, as I had to go to Paris and London. In
Paris I took part in two concerts given by Ansermet. In the first, on
February 20, I played my _Capriccio_, and on February 24 I conducted my
_Symphonie des Psaumes_ at its first Paris audition. On this occasion my
work with the orchestra was particularly interesting to me because the
Columbia firm had arranged with Ansermet that records should be made of
the symphony at the Théatre des Champs-Elysées, during which I was to
prepare for the concert. The performance could not fail to benefit by
this, as the rehearsals had to be conducted with that exceptionally
minute care which, as I have already pointed out, is demanded by all

It was at the Courtauld-Sargent Concerts, on March 3 and 4, that I
played my _Capriccio_ for the first time in London. These concerts bear
the name of their founder, Mrs. Courtauld, who, animated by the best
intentions, ably seconded by the conductor Sargent, had by her energy
infused life into a musical undertaking which might well have become
still more important under her influence. She was the patron of young
artists and sincerely interested in new works, so that the programs of
her concerts were frequently differentiated by their freshness from the
routine and colorless programs which generally characterize the musical
life of great centers, London included. Alas! patrons of her quality
become more and more rare, and the premature death of this generous
benefactor cannot be too deeply deplored. The organization survives her
death, but no longer bears the special imprint given by the enthusiasm
of its founder.

I was glad to return to Nice and be able to take up my _Concerto_ again.
The first part was completed at the end of March, and I began the other
two. This took up all my time, and it was made particularly pleasant by
the enthusiasm and understanding with which Dushkin followed my
progress. I was not a complete novice in handling the violin. Apart from
my pieces for the string quartet and numerous passages in _Pulcinella_,
I had had occasion, particularly in the _Histoire d'un Soldat_, to
tackle the technique of the violin as a solo instrument. But a concerto
certainly offered a far vaster field of experience. To know the
technical possibilities of an instrument without being able to play it
is one thing; to have that technique in one's finger tips is quite
another. I realized the difference, and before beginning the work I
consulted Hindemith, who is a perfect violinist. I asked him whether the
fact that I did not play the violin would make itself felt in my
composition. Not only did he allay my doubts, but he went further and
told me that it would be a very good thing, as it would make me avoid a
routine technique, and would give rise to ideas which would not be
suggested by the familiar movement of the fingers.

I had barely begun the composition of the last part of the _Concerto_
when I had to see to our removal from Nice to Voreppe in Isère, where I
had taken a small property for the summer. I had decided to leave Nice
after having lived there for seven years, and at first thought of living
in Paris, but the pure air of the Isère valley, the peacefulness of the
country, a very beautiful garden, and a large, comfortable house induced
us to settle there for good, and there we stayed for three years. There
I finished my latest composition among half-unpacked trunks and boxes
and the coming and going of removers, upholsterers, electricians, and
plumbers. My faithful Dushkin, who was near Grenoble and not far from
us, used to come to see me every day. He was assiduously studying his
part so as to be ready in time, as the Berlin Rundfunk had secured the
first audition of the _Concerto_, which was to be played under my
direction on October 23.

After conducting concerts at Oslo, I went to Berlin. There my new work
was very well received, as it was also in Frankfort-on-Main, London,
Cologne, Hanover, and Paris, where Dushkin and I played in November and
December. In an interval between concerts at Halle and Darmstadt, I
spent about a fortnight at Wiesbaden, and so was able to hear the first
performance of a new composition by Hindemith--his cantata _Das
Unaufhörliche_, given at the centenary festival of the Mainz
Liedertafel. This composition, large alike in size and substance and the
varied character of its parts, offers an excellent opportunity for
getting into touch with the author's individuality, and for admiring his
rich talent and brilliant mastery. The appearance of Hindemith in the
musical life of our day is very fortunate, for he stands out as a
wholesome and illuminating principle amid so much obscurity.

Far from having exhausted my interest in the violin, my _Concerto_, on
the contrary, impelled me to write yet another important work for that
instrument. I had formerly had no great liking for a combination of
piano and strings, but a deeper knowledge of the violin and close
collaboration with a technician like Dushkin had revealed possibilities
I longed to explore. Besides, it seemed desirable to open up a wider
field for my music by means of chamber concerts, which are so much
easier to arrange, as they do not require large orchestras of high
quality, which are so costly and so rarely to be found except in big
cities. This gave me the idea of writing a sort of sonata for violin and
piano that I called _Duo Concertant_ and which, together with
transcriptions of a few of my other works, was to form the program of
recitals that I proposed to give with Dushkin in Europe and America.

I began the _Duo Concertant_ at the end of 1931 and finished it on the
July 15 following. Its composition is closely connected in my mind with
a book which had just appeared and which had greatly delighted me. It
was the remarkable _Petrarch_ of Charles Albert Cingria, an author of
rare sagacity and deep originality. Our work had a great deal in common.
The same subjects occupied our thoughts, and, although we were now
living far apart and seldom saw each other, the close agreement between
our views, our tastes, and our ideas, which I had noticed when we first
met twenty years before, not only still existed, but seemed even to have
grown with the passing of the years.

"Lyricism cannot exist without rules, and it is essential that they
should be strict. Otherwise there is only a faculty for lyricism, and
that exists everywhere. What does not exist everywhere is lyrical
expression and composition. To achieve that, apprenticeship to a trade
is necessary." These words of Cingria seemed to apply with the utmost
appropriateness to the work I had in hand. My object was to create a
lyrical composition, a work of musical versification, and I was more
than ever experiencing the advantage of a rigorous discipline which
gives a taste for the craft and the satisfaction of being able to apply
it--and more particularly in work of a lyrical character. It would be
appropriate to quote in this connection the words of one who is regarded
above all as a lyrical composer. This is what Tchaikovsky says in one of
his letters: "Since I began to compose I have made it my object to be,
in my craft, what the most illustrious masters were in theirs; that is
to say, I wanted to be, like them, an artisan, just as a shoemaker
is.... (They) composed their immortal works exactly as a shoemaker makes
shoes; that is to say, day in, day out, and for the most part to order."
How true that is! Did not Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, to
cite the best-known names, and even leaving the early Italians out of
consideration, compose their works in that way?

The spirit and form of my _Duo Concertant_ were determined by my love of
the pastoral poets of antiquity and their scholarly art and technique.
The theme that I had chosen developed through all the five movements of
the piece which forms an integral whole, and, as it were, offers a
musical parallel to the old pastoral poetry.

The work was interrupted only by a few concerts at Antwerp, Florence,
and Milan. Its first performance was in Berlin on October 28, 1932, at
the broadcasting station, where, under my direction, Dushkin also played
my _Concerto pour Violon_. We then gave a series of recitals for piano
and violin, the programs including the above mentioned transcriptions as
well as the _Duo Concertant_. We played that winter at Danzig, Paris,
Munich, London, and Winterthur, and in between I conducted and played at
Königsberg, Hamburg, Ostrava, Paris, Budapest, Milan, Turin, and Rome.
My visits to the Italian towns left a particularly pleasant impression.
I am always delighted to go to Italy, a country for which I have the
deepest admiration. And this admiration is increased by the marvelous
regenerative effort which has manifested itself there for the last ten
years, and is still manifesting itself in every direction. I had proof
of this in my own domain when I conducted my works--among others, the
_Symphonie des Psaumes_--with the orchestra of the Turin Radio, a new
and distinguished organization.

At the beginning of 1933, Mme Ida Rubinstein had inquired whether I
would consent to write the music for a poem by André Gide, which he had
planned before the war and which Mme Rubinstein wished to stage. I
agreed in principle, and at the end of January André Gide joined me at
Wiesbaden, where I happened to be staying. He showed me his poem, which
was taken from the superb Homeric hymn to Demeter. The author expressed
his willingness to make any modification in the text required by the
music and under such conditions an agreement was quickly reached. A few
months later I received the first part of the poem and set to work on

With the exception of two melodies for some lines by Verlaine, this was
my first experience of composing music for French words. I had always
been afraid of the difficulties of French prosody. Although I had been
living in France for twenty years, and had spoken the language from
childhood, I had until now hesitated to use it in my music. I now
decided to try my hand, and was more and more pleased as my work
proceeded. What I most enjoyed was syllabifying the music to French, as
I had done for Russian in _Les Noces_, and for Latin in _Oedipus Rex_.

I worked at the music of _Perséphone_ from May, 1933, till I finished it
at the end of the year. In November I gave several concerts in Spain. At
Barcelona, at a festival which I conducted, I had the joy of presenting
my son Sviatoslav to the public for the first time. He played my
_Capriccio_. He made his Paris debut a year later with the symphony
orchestra, when he played the _Capriccio_ and my _Concerto pour Piano_
under my direction.

In March, 1934, having finished the orchestral score, I was able to
undertake a journey to Copenhagen to play my _Capriccio_ for the radio,
and I then made a concert tour with Dushkin in Lithuania and Latvia. On
my return to Paris, I took part in one of Siohan's concerts. He had
recently been put in charge of the chorus at the Opera. He had already
had the chorus make a careful study of the several parts of
_Perséphone_, so that when I started rehearsals I found them very well
prepared. As for the orchestra, it was, as usual, at the top of its
form. But, again as usual, I had no end of trouble over the fatal custom
of deputizing. There may be some justification for it when the current
opera repertory is in question, but it is absurd and harmful when the
work is not in the ordinary program, is wholly unknown to the musicians,
and is to be given only a few times. _Perséphone_ was given only three
times at the Paris Opera--on April 30 and May 4 and 9, 1934. My
participation was limited to conducting the music. The scenic effects
were created without consulting me. I should like here to express my
appreciation of the efforts made by Kurt Jooss, as master choreographer,
and my regret that the poet was absent both from rehearsals and the
actual performances. But the incident is all too recent for me to
discuss it with the necessary detachment.

On the other hand, I was completely satisfied when I conducted
_Perséphone_ at a B.B.C. concert in London at the end of 1934. Mme Ida
Rubinstein lent her valuable services, and so did René Maison, the
excellent tenor who, with his musical flair, had so admirably rendered
the songs of Eumolpus at the Paris performances.

Now that I have spoken about my last big composition, I have brought my
chronicle almost up to date, and it is time to end it. Have I attained
the objective I set before myself as described in my foreword? Have I
given the reader a true picture of myself? Have I dispelled all the
misconceptions which have accumulated about my work and my personality?
I hope so.

The reader will have discovered that my book is not a diary. He will not
have found any lyrical outpourings or intimate confessions. I have
deliberately avoided all that sort of thing. Where I have spoken of my
tastes, my likes and dislikes, it has been only so far as was necessary
to indicate what are my ideas, my convictions, and my point of view, and
to describe my attitude towards other mentalities. In short, I have
striven to set forth without any ambiguity what I hold to be the truth.

It would be vain, also, to seek in these pages for any aesthetic
doctrine, a philosophy of art, or even a romantic description of the
pangs experienced by the musician in giving birth to his creations, or
of his rapture when the muse brings him inspiration. For me, as a
creative musician, composition is a daily function that I feel compelled
to discharge. I compose because I am made for that and cannot do
otherwise. Just as any organ atrophies unless kept in a state of
constant activity, so the faculty of composition becomes enfeebled and
dulled unless kept up by effort and practice. The uninitiated imagine
that one must await inspiration in order to create. That is a mistake. I
am far from saying that there is no such thing as inspiration; quite the
opposite. It is found as a driving force in every kind of human
activity, and is in no wise peculiar to artists. But that force is only
brought into action by an effort, and that effort is work. Just as
appetite comes by eating, so work brings inspiration, if inspiration is
not discernible at the beginning. But it is not simply inspiration that
counts; it is the result of inspiration--that is, the composition.

At the beginning of my career as a composer I was a good deal spoiled by
the public. Even such things as were at first received with hostility
were soon afterwards acclaimed. But I have a very distinct feeling that
in the course of the last fifteen years my written work has estranged me
from the great mass of my listeners. They expected something different
from me. Liking the music of _L'Oiseau de Feu_, _Petroushka_, _Le
Sacre_, and _Les Noces_, and being accustomed to the language of those
works, they are astonished to hear me speaking in another idiom. They
cannot and will not follow me in the progress of my musical thought.
What moves and delights me leaves them indifferent, and what still
continues to interest them holds no further attraction for me. For that
matter, I believe that there was seldom any real communion of spirit
between us. If it happened--and it still happens--that we liked the same
things, I very much doubt whether it was for the same reasons. Yet art
postulates communion, and the artist has an imperative need to make
others share the joy which he experiences himself. But, in spite of that
need, he prefers direct and frank opposition to apparent agreement which
is based on misunderstanding.

Unfortunately, perfect communion is rare, and the more the personality
of the author is revealed the rarer that communion becomes. The more he
eliminates all that is extraneous, all that is not his own, or "in him,"
the greater is his risk of conflicting with the expectations of the bulk
of the public, who always receive a shock when confronted by something
to which they are not accustomed.

The author's need for communion is all-embracing, but unfortunately that
is only an unattainable ideal, so that he is compelled to content
himself with something less. In my own case, I find that while the
general public no longer gives me the enthusiastic reception of earlier
days, that does not in any way prevent a large number of listeners,
mainly of the young generation, from acclaiming my work with all the old
ardor. I wonder whether, after all, it is simply a matter of the

It is very doubtful whether Rimsky-Korsakov would ever have accepted _Le
Sacre_, or even _Petroushka_. Is it any wonder, then, that the
hypercritics of today should be dumfounded by a language in which all
the characteristics of their aesthetic seem to be violated? What,
however, is less justifiable is that they nearly always blame the author
for what is in fact due to their own lack of comprehension, a lack made
all the more conspicuous because in their inability to state their
grievance clearly they cautiously try to conceal their incompetence in
the looseness and vagueness of their phraseology.

Their attitude certainly cannot make me deviate from my path. I shall
assuredly not sacrifice my predilections and my aspirations to the
demands of those who, in their blindness, do not realize that they are
simply asking me to go backwards. It should be obvious that what they
wish for has become obsolete for me, and that I could not follow them
without doing violence to myself. But, on the other hand, it would be a
great mistake to regard me as an adherent of _Zukunftsmusik_--the music
of the future. Nothing could be more ridiculous. I live neither in the
past nor in the future. I am in the present. I cannot know what tomorrow
will bring forth. I can know only what the truth is for me today. That
is what I am called upon to serve, and I serve it in all lucidity.

  The text of this book
  is printed in Walbaum
  a German transitional type
  which first appeared in 1810,
  cut by Justus Erich Walbaum,
  following closely the designs
  of Bodoni and Didot
  in its careful modelling and cut.
  Walbaum type was revived in England,
  first by the Curwen Press,
  then by the Monotype Corporation
  in 1933.

  Designed by Burt Kramer
  Printed by Clarke & Way, Inc.,
  at The Thistle Press.
  Bound by Russell-Rutter.

  [ Transcriber's Note:

    The following is a list of corrections made to the original.
    The first line is the original line, the second the corrected one.

  musician, but completely obsessed by her adoration for her illustratious
  musician, but completely obsessed by her adoration for her illustrious

  Before tackling the Sacre du Printemps, which would be a long and
  Before tackling the _Sacre du Printemps_, which would be a long and

  that time might prove as inexact and arbitrary as if someone else where
  that time might prove as inexact and arbitrary as if someone else were

  My stay there was broken by another journey to Rome, which I undertood
  My stay there was broken by another journey to Rome, which I undertook

  Soldat completely satisfied me. Nor was this so from the point of view
  _Soldat_ completely satisfied me. Nor was this so from the point of view

  many works for the threatre--that a perfect rendering can be achieved
  many works for the theatre--that a perfect rendering can be achieved

  Cabrielle Chanel, who not only generously came to the assistance of the
  Gabrielle Chanel, who not only generously came to the assistance of the

  universatility was not only particularly dear and precious to us, but
  universality was not only particularly dear and precious to us, but

  spirit of its montebank buffoonery. She displayed such a wealth of
  spirit of its mountebank buffoonery. She displayed such a wealth of

  This time, morever, I was fully conscious of the approval of my manner
  This time, moreover, I was fully conscious of the approval of my manner

  _Nachtmustk_ of the eighteenth century, which was usually commissioned
  _Nachtmusik_ of the eighteenth century, which was usually commissioned

  that I could not do better for my libertto than to appeal to my old
  that I could not do better for my libretto than to appeal to my old

  work. As I hate being hurried, and was afraid of unforseen obstacles
  work. As I hate being hurried, and was afraid of unforeseen obstacles

  _Le Baiser de la Fee_, which can be played without much difficulty by
  _Le Baiser de la Fée_, which can be played without much difficulty by

  sometimes distorted, timbres spoils the ear, so that it gradually loses
  sometimes distorted timbres spoils the ear, so that it gradually loses

  before. I had been out with my sons to see Prokoviev, who was living in
  before. I had been out with my sons to see Prokofiev, who was living in

  Eugène Goossens, as conductor, and myself conducting _Apollo_ and--for
  Eugene Goossens, as conductor, and myself conducting _Apollo_ and--for


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