Great news for fans of that groundbreaking 20th century Russian composer Igor Stravinsky.
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra is making a program change for its subscription concerts April 6-11, 2017, to make room for the U.S. premiere of his recently “rediscovered” work “Funeral Song (Pogrebal’naya Pesnya).”
The piece will replace Glinka’s “Overture to Ruslan and Ludmilla” and will share the program with Dvořák’s “Cello Concerto” (with Truls Mørk as soloist) and Prokofiev’s “Symphony No. 5,” as previously announced. Charles Dutoit will conduct.
“Funeral Song (Pogrebal’naya Pesnya), Op. 5,” was assumed lost for more than a century and represents an early composition by Stravinsky, then 26. It was written in memory of his teacher Rimsky-Korsakov shortly after his death. The composition serves as a missing link in Stravinsky’s composition catalogue, falling between his “Fireworks” and “Scherzo Fantastique” and the ballet “The Firebird,” which was written for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes and won the composer major international acclaim.
The 12-minute work for orchestra was pieced together from orchestral parts found in 2015 at the St. Petersburg Rimsky-Korsakov State Conservatory. It had its only performance on Jan. 17, 1909, and was soon forgotten because, as Stravinsky noted in “The Chronicle of My Life,” “The score of this work unfortunately disappeared in Russia during the Revolution, along with many other things which I had left there.”
The composer remained intrigued about the piece in later years, writing that “the orchestral parts must have been preserved in one of the Saint Petersburg orchestral libraries; I wish someone in Leningrad would look for the parts, for I would be curious myself to see what I was composing just before ‘The Firebird.’ ”
“Funeral Song” will be heard again 107 years later, when the Mariinsky Orchestra, led by Valery Gergiev, performs it in St. Petersburg in December.