Stravinsky’s Dogma

Tamara Levitz

in Modernist Mysteries: Perséphone

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199730162
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199932467 | DOI:
Stravinsky’s Dogma

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This chapter interprets Stravinsky’s faith by analyzing how he composed the opening of Perséphone, and the central gesture of Demeter entrusting Persephone to the nymphs. The goal is to demonstrate how Stravinsky, in contrast to Gide, submitted his will to Christian dogma, rather than trusting in individual action. In dialogue with his Christian friends, Pyotr Suvchinsky, Charles-Albert Cingria, and Jacques Maritain (and to a lesser degree Domenico de Paoli and Ernst Ansermet), Stravinsky developed a Christian compositional approach that led to a sacred formalism based on revelation through artistic materials, mythical consciousness of music history, the promulgation of dogma through emblematic gesture, and sound as a divine force. This led him to side with Demeter as a representative of Church authority, rather than with Gide’s sensitive Persephone. Stravinsky’s approach put him diametrically at odds with André Gide.

Keywords: Igor Stravinsky; Compositional process; Jacques Maritain; philosophy of music; Pyotr Suvchinsky; philosophy of music; Charles-Albert Cingria; sacred formalism; revelation through music; dogma; sound

Chapter.  30690 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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