This week I’ll give my last paper as PhD student at one of the Postgraduate Forum at York. Entitled ‘The narratives and continuities of Movements’, the paper examines Stravinsky’s Movements for piano and orchestra.
Here’s the abstract:
Although the culmination of his idiosyncratic late style would come with the 1966 masterpiece Requiem Canticles, Stravinsky’s Movements for piano and orchestra (1958-59) represents one of his first works not simply to use serial technique, but to involve itself in a meaningful dialogue with the methods and aesthetics of the Second Viennese School. This is a serial work which critiques Schoenberg, reveres Webern and ultimately embraces Stravinsky. In this paper, facets of Movements will be identified which reflect its dialogue with music of the past, as it is placed in the somewhat uneasy context of serialism. In so doing, it will be argued that Movements reflects the composer’s ‘neoclassical’ tendencies as much as it presents an embryonic version of truly Stravinskian serialism. Issues of form, melody and reference within the piece will be highlighted to demonstrate the sense of continuity present despite the work’s block-like form. These extrinsic and intrinsic narratives will be brought together to give an understanding of what Eric Walter White called one of Stravinsky’s ‘most hermetic’ works.