Sunday, August 14, 2011
Yesterday I began a new series of of images evoked by Russian fairytales. I decided to start with "The Firebird" - because of the life-changing impact on my work of both Stravinsky's music, and the Ballet Russe.
I was in the 8th grade of my school when an English teacher played The Firebird for a writing assignment. I remember that what I wrote, while listening to the music (that was the assignment) - was maudlin, and false as well, but it made me aware of the power of music to tell a story, and with that realization I was determined to become a composer. I asked my parents for an instrument to compose on, and incredibly, my father went with me to a music store and bought an organ for me, my choice - because it was the only keyboard that they had. The only Stravinsky that I could find was the piano-four-hand arrangement of The Rite of Spring, in the Fantasia music book, so that's what I began with.
I'm pretty sure that I read The Firebird, as a fairytale, at some point when I was a child. I read a lot of fairytales, especially if they told of far-away places like Russia.
In time I would discover other resonances of the firebird image through study of Gaston Bachelard's unfinished final work on the poetics of the Phoenix.
What surprises me, just as it did during work on the ballad paintings, is how determined the image of the firebird is for me. I've painted a number of phoenix since first hearing The Firebird, but this one has a certain nature that I want to - should I say capture? ~ very precisely.