The Soldier’s Tale

By In Dance

L’Histoire Du Soldat

feels a great affinity for Stravinsky, who, like himself, was forced to leave his homeland. He describes the composer’s music drama, L’Histoire du Soldat, as a ‘surrealistic fairy tale for grown-up children’.

His version of the piece uses the original French version libretto by Charles Ferdinand Ramuz. With scenery and costumes by John MacFarlane, this studio recording features as the soldier who sells his soul to the Devil for wealth, but is forced to wander the world.

The onset of the First World War and the Russian Revolution of 1917 had drastic consequences for Stravinsky in his Swiss exile: his property was confi scated, and he thereby lost the rights to his works and the associated income, leaving him in a situation which isolated him as an artist.

Stravinsky and his librettist for L’Histoire du Soldat, Charles Ferdinand Ramuz, had the idea of ‘founding a travelling theatre which, with as little funding as possible, could be moved easily from place to place and perform in small meeting places.’ It involved a street ballad-like series of scenes about a pact between a soldier and the devil which was ‘to be read, played and danced’.

The associated new work, with its diversity, its structure, the switching between narration, action, mime and dance, and its elements from tango, English Waltz and Ragtime, could not have been categorized under any genre which existed at the time.


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