Monday 14 September 2015
An important early orchestral work by one of the greatest composers of the 20th century, thought for more than 100 years to have been irretrievably lost, has turned up at last in a pile of old manuscripts in St Petersburg Conservatoire.
Igor Stravinsky composed The Funeral Song in memory of his teacher, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, shortly after Rimsky’s death in June 1908. The 12-minute work was performed only once in January 1909, but was always thought to have been destroyed in the revolutions that followed.
Stravinsky recalled it as one of his best early works. It was composed just before “The Firebird” and it was staged in Paris in June 1910.
For years, it is theorised that the manuscript materials might still be preserved among the mass of uncatalogued music in the archives of the St Petersburg Philharmonic or the Conservatoire.