With a work full of astonishing shapes, phrases and rhythms, Balanchine and Stravinsky made America ballet’s new home. Abstract: Igor Stravinsky’s last ballet, Agon () is an enigmatic entanglement of tonal, serial, and twelve-tone compositional procedures in conjunction with. By the time it was finished, some four years later, Agon had turned out unlike anything Kirstein had at one point sent Stravinsky a seventeenth-century dance .

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When Igor Stravinsky ‘s opera The Rake’s Progress premiered init was greeted in certain progressive musical circles as old-fashioned, proof that its composer was out of step with the times.

Not surprisingly, Stravinsky was taken aback by the reaction, but quickly concluded that one way to avoid becoming irrelevant was to incorporate more modern techniques into his style.

The first major work in which Stravinsky essayed twelve-tone techniques agno a cantata, Canticum Sacrum Already, though, in the earlier CantataStravinsky had begun to assimilate the atravinsky of one of Schoenberg ‘s disciples, Anton Webern.

Because he interrupted work on Agon — first to compose In Memoriam Dylan Thomas and then the aforementioned Canticum Sacrum — each time he returned to the ballet, he found he had to rewrite certain parts as a result of the evolution of his style, particularly his increasing attraction to serial techniques.


Thus, for example, the opening fanfare evolved over the course of three distinct versions. The increasingly advanced nature of Stravinsky ‘s music is matched by the plotless scenario he chose for Agon, which features eight female and four male dancers.

As in Canticum Sacrum, Agon commences in a diatonic and fairly accessible vein, but progresses toward stravinky. So, for example, as the fanfare that opens the work reappears throughout, it grows increasingly chromatic. With the tenth section, Pas-de-deux, Stravinsky makes overt use of post- Webern serial techniques. By the close of the ballet the music returns to the less complex language of its beginning, again in the manner of Canticum Sacrum.

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Even a cursory comparison with the music of Stravinsky ‘s Russian and neo-Classic periods strikingly demonstrates just how far the composer’s musical language had evolved by the time of Agon.

The ballet’s 12 movements are divided into four groups of three each. The second group is announced by a Prelude; brief Interludes precede the third and fourth groups.

There are a number of relationships between the various sections of the ballet. For instance, the music in the first set is reprised in the last number of the fourth, and the Interludes contain the same music as the Prelude.


Some have contended that Stravinsky ‘s pattern of “threes” is broken by the inclusion of the Prelude and Interludes; however, because they themselves constitute a collection of three and serve a prefatory role for the main sections, their role in the overall scheme is clearly integral rather than anomalous.

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Agon, ballet for 12 dancers & orchestra

Le Domaine Musical, Le Sacre du Printemps. Agon; Symphony in Three Movements; Apollo. Orpheus; Jeu de cartes; Agon. Canticum Sacrum; Agon; Requiem Canticles. Le Domaine Musical, Vol. The Firebird; Jeu de Cartes; Agon. American Stravinsky, The Composer, Vol.

Igor Stravinsky – Agon

Hans Rosbaud dirige Strawinsky, Berg, Webern. The Mravinsky Legacy, Vol. Sony Classical Essential Classics.

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