26 September 2016

Stravinsky on Dylan Thomas, with whom he had hoped to work


I don't think you can say that the project ever got as far as having a subject, but Dylan had a very beautiful idea.

I first heard of Dylan Thomas from Auden, in New York, in February or March of 1950. Coming late to an appointment one day Auden excused himself saying that he had been busy helping to extricate an English poet from some sort of difficulty.

Then in May 1953, Boston University proposed to commission me to write an opera with Dylan. I was in Boston at the time and Dylan who was in New York or New Haven came to see me...  he was nervous, chain smoking the whole time, and he complained of severe gout pains...

His face and skin had the color and swelling of too much drinking. He was a shorter man than I expected, from his portraits, not more than five feet five or three, with a large protuberant behind and belly. His nose was a red bulb, and his eyes were glazed. He drank a glass of whisky with me and it seemed to put him at ease.

...As soon as I saw him I knew that the only thing to do was to love him...

                            Igor Stravinsky

23 September 2016

Igor Stravinsky on Eric Satie

He was certainly the oddest person I have ever known, but the most rare and consistently witty person, too. I had a great liking for him and he appreciated my friendliness, I think, and liked me in return. With his piece-nez, umbrella, and galoshes he looked a perfect schoolmaster, but he looked just as much like one without theses accoutrements. He spoke very softly, hardly opening his mouth, but he delivered each word in an inimitable, precise way. His handwriting recalls his speech to me: it is exact, drawn. His manuscripts were like him also, which is to say as the French say 'fin'. No one ever saw him wash, he had a horror of soap. Instead he was forever rubbing his fingers with pumice. He was always very poor, poor by conviction, I think. He lived in a poor section and his neighborhood seemed to appreciate his coming among them: He was greatly respected by them. His apartment was also very poor. It did not have a bed but only a hammock. In winter Satie would fill bottles of hot water and put them flat in a row underneath his hammock. It looked like some strange kind of Marimba I 
remember once when someone had promised him somme money he replied:
"Monsieur, what you have said did not fall a deaf". His sarcasm depended on French classic  usages. The first time I heard Socrate, at a séance where he played it for a few of us, he turned around at the end and said in perfect bourgeosie: "Voila, messieurs, dames."