Share
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

It’s well known that Stravinsky borrowed tunes from Lanner for the ballerina in Petrushka. I knew about the Schönbrunner waltz Op. 200 [link to score], but I was pleased to find the other tune on page two of the Steyrische Tänze Op. 165 [link to score].

The Steyrische Tänze Op. 165 by Lanner, in Stravinsky's score for Petrushka
The Steyrische Tänze Op. 165 by Lanner – source of one of the ballerina tunes in Petrushka

This is why I love IMSLP – it gives you a chance to recover sources like this. I can remember reading a book or programme note about  Petrushka that said in a supercilious tone Stravinsky was caricaturing the facile melodies of Lanner’s waltzes, and in a sentence like that, Lanner gets pushed further to the bottom of the heap of composers that one is not supposed to like, or even look at – you can just rely on some secondary source to tell you what to think. I’m not saying that when you look at it again, you realise that Lanner was a master composer and this is a wonderful piece – but I do like to have the opportunity to hear this music without the modernist composer’s, musicologist’s or critic’s sneer all over it (hear it for yourself here.) It opens with a waltz in 3 bar phrases (like the Glinka Valse Fantaisie), and is really rather nice.

The only reason I found it was because I’ve realised that the Steyrische (or “Styrian”) has got just the right degree of turgidness for a certain kind of ronds de jambe exercise, so I was hunting around IMSLP to see if there were any good ones to add to the repertoire. I’ve played the Schönbrunner waltz several times in class, and no-one’s ever said “That’s Petrushka!” so I wonder if they’d notice if you played this. Of course, if they did, the nice thing is that they’d think you were playing Stravinsky, so you could put on your Stravinsky face and make out that it was really hard.

For many years, I played “Po dikim stepyam Zabaikalya” in class, thinking that it’s the song quoted in Petrushka on the clarinets at Figure 18 & 22 in the Shrovetide Fair. Much later (in July 2020, to be precise—this is an edited post) I discovered by chance that it’s not that song, but one which sounds very much like it, Ne slishno shum gorododskogo, also known as the Pesn’ Uznika. The opening lines are so similar, despite the difference in meter, I wonder if they are versions of each other?

The definite essay on questions of folk music in Petrushka is Taruskin’s chapter in Andrew Wachtel’s book Petrushka: Sources and Contexts . Reading this account of the folk / popular songs used in Petrushka, you realize what a complete mashup of well-known music the “Shrovetide Fair” must have been to contemporary Russian audiences—though not to French ones.

 

 

Below: “Po dikim stepyam zabaikal’ya” — not what Stravinsky was thinking of, but it sounds very similar.

 

They’ve not noticed the other folk tune – Я вечор млада во пиру была –  that I play sometimes, either).

References

Taruskin, R. (1998). Stravinsky’s Petrushka. In A. B. Wachtel (Ed.), Petrushka: Sources and Contexts (pp. 67–114). Northwestern University Press.
2 thought on “The Lanner in the Stravinsky”
    1. I don’t know, though I’d assumed that he could have heard it almost anywhere, given his fairly extensive travel. I wondered whether it had been the tune in one of those music boxes with a ballerina in it. There’s one here, made in Switzerland, from 1885. The answer may be in one of Taruskin’s books. I didn’t know about about Grigorivich’s Petersburg Organ Grinders, but I’m learning thanks to your wonderful site. Fascinating.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Jonathan Still, ballet pianist