Boosey & Hawkes invited sixteen composers to compose brief pieces in honor of Stravinsky after his death in 1971. Threnody: in memoriam Igor Stravinsky was later called simply Threnody I. It is a two minute piece featuring a flute melody above a canonic ground in strings. Threnody II was composed as an elegy to Copland's friend, Beatrice Cunningham. Copland described it as being "more complex than Threnody I." Since both pieces are short, Copland paired them for their premiere at the Ojai Festival under Michael Tilson Thomas in 1973.
-Vivian Perlis, 1998