CSO marks 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination with Stravinsky’s ‘Elegy for JFK’

SHARE CSO marks 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination with Stravinsky’s ‘Elegy for JFK’
SHARE CSO marks 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination with Stravinsky’s ‘Elegy for JFK’

In early 1964, not long after John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas late the previous November, classical composer Igor Stravinsky wrote to his poet pal W.H. Auden requesting a “very quiet little lyric” that he could score as a tribute to the fallen president. This was the result:

When a just man dies,

Lamentation and praise,

Sorrow and joy are one.

Why then? Why there?

Why thus, we cry, did he die?

The heavens are silent.

What he was, he was:

What he is fated to become

Depends on us.

Remembering his death

How we choose to live

Will decide its meaning.

When a just man dies,

Lamentation and praise,

Sorrow and joy are one.

As part of its own special remembrance of Kennedy, the CSO will include a performance of Stravinsky’s brief 12-tone “Elegy for JFK” — written for voice and three clarinets — during its concerts at Symphony Center Nov. 21, 22, 23 and 24. Guest conductor Michael Tilson Thomas will also lead the orchestra in Mahler’s Ninth Symphony.

If a rock version’s more your thing, check this out:

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