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Stephen Walsh. Stravinsky: Oedipus Rex. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993. 118pp.

van den Toorn, Pieter C.

Anyone wishing to track down the biography of Stravinsky's opera-oratorio, Oedipus Rex, can do so fairly easily. Walsh's comments are wonderfully perceptive on the staging of Oedipus, the austere, "still life" conception envisioned initially by the composer and then also by Cocteau. Stravinsky's idea of a translation "backwards" from secular French to sacred, "monumental" Latin is discussed at length, as is the neoclassicism of the music. But it is nonetheless with the larger aesthetic issues that Walsh is primarily concerned-above all, with Stravinsky's vehement anti-individualistic stance at the time. Uncomfortable with propositions of self-expression and expressivity, the composer sought to restore distance, order, and a sense of objectivity, envisioning these as part of a removed and idealized Classical past; his stance was anti-progressive, anti-Schoenberg, anti-modernist, anti-Wagner, and so forth.

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Current Musicology

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Music
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Columbia University
Published Here
January 23, 2015
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