Movements from Petrouchka is dedicated to Arthur
Rubinstein who, according to Stravinsky, paid him a
larger fee for this work than Diaghilev paid for the
complete ballet! Stravinsky insisted Three Movements
was not a piano reduction of the ballets orchestra score,
but "piano music." It also contains passages
found in a 1918 version of the work for pianola (a mechanical
player piano). Stravinsky, having the immense skills
of Arthur Rubinstein in mind for the Three Movements,
not only produced a tour de force of chord, octave,
and arpeggio technique, but a way of writing that makes
the piano sound exceptionally brilliant and orchestral.
Unfortunately, Rubinstein did not record this piece,
but the German pianist Carl Seemann recalled, with great
pleasure, hearing Rubinstein perform it.
other solo piano works from the 1920s, written within
a twelve-month period, embrace a neo- classicism. He
indicated that his title, Sonata for Piano, did not
reflect the form of Haydn and Mozart sonatas but referred
to the original meaning of the source word, sonare,
meaning sound, as opposed to vocal music (cantare).
Proceeding with a fairly rapid, often perpetual motion,
the sonata's outer movements frame the remarkable Adagietto
in which Stravinsky presents one of his most elaborate
flights of decorated melody. The sonata received its
first performance at the Donaueschingen Festival in
A practical and
a musical motivation influenced the composition of the
Serenade. Stravinsky was negotiating the recording of
some of his music with an American record company. Thus
the time limitations per side of 78-rpm recordings dictated
the length of the movements of the Serenade. The other
influence was his desire to write some music "in
imitation" of the eighteenth-century serenade,
music often intended for special occasions. In his Autobiography,
Stravinsky described the Hymne as a "solemn entry,"
the Romanza as "ceremonial homage paid by the artist
to the guests, the Rondoletto as filling the role of
"various kinds of dance music," and the Cadenza
Finale as a "sort of epilogue which was tantamount
to an ornate signature with carefully inscribed flourishes."
The Serenade was premiered in November 1925, in Frankfurt.
Piano-Rag Music (1919) as a written-out portrait of
improvisation. Roman Vlad writes that in it "jazz
elements are broken down and crushed to a pulp, then
reassembled as if processed by a diabolical machine."
The two sets of
pieces for piano duet date from 1915 and 1917, respectively.
Three Easy Pieces has a simpler part given to the second
pianist. The reverse holds for Five Easy Pieces, composed
for Stravinsky's children .