Stravinsky’s L’histoire du soldat (The Soldier’s Tale), written in collaboration with the Swiss author C.F. Ramuz, was based on a Russian fairytale about a fiddle-playing soldier. The music I supposed to be accompanied by a narrator and dancers, but could also be performed as a concert suite. L’histoire du soldat was premiered in 1918. The story is a Faustian fable about a soldier and the Devil who eventually possesses his soul by persuading him to sell his fiddle in return of a book. The soldier’s violin becomes a symbol of the soldier’s soul. The book represents materialism.
L’histoire du soldat (The music without a narrator)
Composed during wartime, with its limited finances, Stravinsky took it down to its essentials, as oppose his famous ballets, The Soldier’s Tale is scored for just seven instruments: clarinet, bassoon, cornet, trombone, violin, double bass and percussion.
English Version preformed as a stage play with narrator.
The story is based on an Old Russian tale, but the music is far from Russian traditionalism. Stravinsky uses tango, marches, waltz and even the new modern jazz, in his scores. Even though he had never actually heard Jazz, Stravinsky was familiar with it from scores, he got from his friend Ernest Ansermet, who was one of the first in the field of classical music to take jazz seriously.