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Music Text

WH Auden (E)


clarinets 1 & 2 in B flat, clarinet 3 alto in E flat

Abbreviations (PDF)


Boosey & Hawkes

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Repertoire Note

On 18 January 1962, the celebrity couple Igor and Vera Stravinsky were invited by US President John F Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy to a gala dinner at the White House. Less than two years later, Kennedy had been assassinated. Stravinsky wrote this brief elegy for baritone and three clarinets to specially commissioned lyrics from W H Auden: five short verses, each a 17-syllable haiku. Its serial construction gives the music a stark intensity. The three clarinets seem to act almost like a Greek chorus.

Repertoire note by Jonathan Cross

Anticipating "the albatross of 'epic' poetry and symphonic sentiment that the event [would] surely give rise to and for a certain time excuse," Stravinsky obtained from Auden a "very quiet little lyric" with which to commemorate the assassination.

Repertoire note by Joseph Horowitz


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