Stravinsky and Elephants

From Daniel J. Boorstin, ‘Composing for the Community’, in The Creators: A History of Heroes of the Imagination (New York, 1992)

He was not averse to bizarre experiments in his own name. When George Balanchine was asked by Ringling Brothers of the Barnum and Bailey Circus to commission a ballet for young elephants in 1942, he passed on the request to Stravinsky. “If they are very young,” Stravinsky agreed, “I’ll do it.” And he produced his Circus Polka in two versions. Stravinsky’s music for The Firebird had made Pavlova so uneasy in 1910 that she refused the title role. Now Stravinsky’s rhythms made the young elephants uneasy. Elephants, their trainer explained, were dignified animals who preferred waltzes and soft, dreamy tunes, but they finally gave in, and, costumed in tutus, performed Stravinsky’s Polka 425 times. The symphonic version was performed by the Boston Symphony in 1944.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: