MOSCOW, Sept 9 — A Russian librarian has discovered an important work by composer Igor Stravinsky that was believed lost for a century, an expert at Saint Petersburg Conservatory told AFP today.
“The Funeral Song, which Stravinsky composed in 1908 and regretted losing, seeing it as one of his best early works, has been miraculously found in our library,” said Natalia Braginskaya, a Stravinsky expert at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory, a top music college in the north-western city.
A librarian discovered the 12-minute-long orchestral work as she sorted through a previously overlooked pile of sheet music in the Conservatory’s archives ahead of a planned relocation, Braginskaya said.
“She called me immediately and we realised that it was the orchestral score of the Funeral March,” recalled Braginskaya, who has been searching for the work for years.
The Funeral Song was written in memory of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, a Russian classical composer who was Stravinsky’s teacher. The work was performed only once and Stravinsky later lamented its disappearance during the 1917 Russian Revolution.
“Stravinsky considered this work one of his best,” she said.
It was composed before The Firebird, the ballet that propelled him to stardom after it was staged in Paris in 1910.
“The Conservatory has not moved since 1896 and one can speculate that huge numbers of uncatalogued musical works are still buried in the library,” she said.
Stravinsky, one of the most influential composers of the 20th century, was born near Saint Petersburg and abandoned law studies to study music with Rimsky-Korsakov.
The Firebird, a full-length ballet commissioned by choreographer Sergei Diaghilev, made him a sensation in Europe.
Stravinsky eventually began spending half of his time in Switzerland, staying in the West after the Revolution. He died in New York in 1971. — AFP