Lot 203
  • 203

Stravinsky, Igor

20,000 - 30,000 GBP
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  • Stravinsky, Igor
  • Calligraphic autograph manuscript of "Shchuka" ["The Pike"]. from Four Russian Peasant Songs, for unaccompanied women's voices, in a coloured folder made and decorated by the composer, dedicated to the artist Ruzena Zátková, ("[to] Ruzhena Vlastimilovna Khvoshchinskaya / Igor Stravinsky A.D. 1914-1915"), in Russian
  • paper
an early version composed in December 1914, with a list of the songs in the set, differing from the final version of 1917 (published in 1930)

Podblyudniya [translation: "Saucers" or "Dish-divination songs"] / [1] Shchuka ["The Pike"] / [2] Puzishche ["Mr Portly"] / [3] U cpaca v Chigisakh ["In Our Saviour's Parish at Chigasi"]/ [4] Na korite sizhu ["I'm sitting on the trough"]

written in black ink, notated for three solo voices (soprano solo and two mezzo-sopranos) and four-part women's chorus, comprising a series of seven short verses with characteristic choral interjections ("Slava!"), clearly, indeed graphically, laid out on two systems per page of four staves each, paginated by the composer ("Shchuka /1...Shchuka / 4"), signed and dated by him at the end [Clarens, Lake Geneva], 26 December 1914 (new style), also including a half-title and a title page for the second planned song "Puzishche",

7 leaves, 4to (c.30 x 24cm), on thick heavy paper, on rectos only, the dedication title within a simple decorative border, contemporary cloth boards, decorated by the composer in red, black, white and green, calligraphic title, book-seller's stamp of Sennelier of Paris, the remaining part of 'Puzishche' missing from the folder,


Ruzena Zátková (1885-1923), Czech Futurist painter, and thence by descent.


R. Taruskin, Stravinsky and the Russian Traditions, (1996), p.1156-1157;  E. Evans, 'The Stravinsky Debate', in Music Student, 13 (1920), 141;  A. Pomajzková, The Story of the Painter Ruzena Zátková (2010) exhibition catalogue in Czech and English, pp.289-293;  Stravinsky. Sein Nachlass. Sein Bild. (Basel, 1984), cf. no.20 (p.39; illustrated pp.66-67);   I. Stravinsky, Expositions and Developments, (1981), p.118-119. 

Catalogue Note

This is an early manuscript of 'Shchuka', from Stravinsky's Four Russian Peasant Songs, dating from December 1914, before the definitive version of the cycle was established.  It is a characteristic example of Stravinsky's "Russian" style, using ever-changing metres and drawing on folk idioms, as seen from Petrushka to Les Noces.  'Shchuka' is here presented as the first song in the set, whereas it was finally published (in 1930) as the third.  The list of titles makes no mention of 'Ovsen' (the second song in the definitive version, composed in 1917), but instead refers to a quite unknown piece 'Na korite sizhu ["I'm sitting on the trough"]'.  

Stravinsky transforms this calligraphic manuscript into a form of book-art, by designing the style, format and binding himself, and dedicating it to the Futurist painter Ruzena Zátková.  The artist met Stravinsky, with Diaghilev and Bakst, in Rome in February 1915 and again at Ouchy (Lausanne) in July.   Zátková, the only important Czech Futurist,  made costume designs for the Ballets Russes and subsequently exhibited with Futurists in Rome in 1921-1922.  She died of tuberculosis at the age of only thirty-eight.  The Stravinsky Archive at the Paul Sacher Stiftung in Basel owns an oblong-octavo sketchbook for this piece, which also has a decorative binding by the composer.  

The composer apparently included 'Shchuka' and 'Puzishche' in this volume, although 'Puzischche' has since been lost.  The other two choruses from the set were written later and are scored without solo voices. Stravinsky established the definitive sequence of songs only in his autograph manuscript of the songs (1917), now in the Mary Flagler Cary Music Collection at the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York.   The present manuscript also pre-dates the fair copy sent by Stravinsky to Chester's of London for publication in 1919 (discussed by Edwin Evans and Richard Taruskin).  The title-page of that manuscript contains a reference to 'Ovsen', which is absent here.   Taruskin explains that podblyudniya are fortune-telling songs performed around bowls filled with water, into which girls cast rings and trinkets during the twelve days of Christmas.  Tatyana takes part in one of these podblyudniya in Pushkin's Eugene Onegin (Chapter 5, verse 8).