Petrouchka – Igor Stravinsky

Petrouchka - Igor Stravinsky

Welcome to the Fair! The Russian Shrovetide fair called Maslenitsa, that is.

Our featured listening piece today is Stravinsky’s delightful ballet, Petrouchka. Listeners of all ages and levels of musical experience love the little hero who is, after all, only a puppet of straw and sawdust. And yet … but we don’t want to give the story away!

Sit back and relax as we enter the enchanting world of the Russian ballet, where nothing is quite real, and yet everything is achingly real … Enjoy!

Petrouchka Part I: The Shrovetide Fair

Petrouchka Part II: Petrouchka’s Cell

Petrouchka Part III: The Moor’s Room and
Petrouchka Part IV-A: The Shrovetide Fair (Evening)

Petrouchka Part IV-B: The Shrovetide Fair (Evening)

Petrouchka for Piano:

Ten years after he wrote the orchestral ballet version of Petrouchka, Stravinsky wrote a solo piano version, Three Movements from Petrouchka, for his friend, pianist Arthur Rubinstein. These movements are not transcriptions, but rather were rewritten for piano, note by note. Stravinsky wanted to create a work which would encourage pianists to play his music, but it should be one in which they could display their technique, an objective he amply achieved!

The three numbers that Stravinsky selected to include in the piano version are the “Russian Dance” from the end of the first tableau, “Petrushka’s Cell” from the second tableau, and almost all of the fourth tableau (including the ending published in the 1947 revision of the ballet), “The Shrove-tide Fair.”

Here is an amazing film of Three Movements from Petrouchka, performed by Alexis Weissenberg and filmed in 1965.

Alexis Weissenberg talks about his stunning performance of Stravinsky’s Three movements from Petrushka in Åke Falck’s famous 1965 film, shown above. This is a fascinating discussion for both composers and pianists, with great insight into writing for piano.

And, finally, here is a version of The Russian Dance for 4 hands and 4 feet! One of the best parts of this video is watching the very young children fall in love with Petrouchka and learn how to pronounce “Stra-VIN-sky” … in Spanish!

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