Rethinking Stravinsky's Neoclassicism: the Ode's Reinvention of the Lament Bass

Lucy Y. Liu, Texas Tech University

In the reception history of Stravinsky's neoclassical output, a critical shift has taken place. The traditional view—that Stravinsky appropriated the tonal tradition from without—has been shown to be incomplete. In a subset of neoclassical pieces, although Stravinsky modified the common practice's harmonic and contrapuntal conventions heavily, he nevertheless operated within that tradition.

My paper contributes to this new turn. Using the first movement of the 1943 Ode as a test case, I take a familiar schema—the lament bass progression (diatonic and chromatic)—and identify the numerous procedures by which Stravinsky reinvented this pattern while maintaining its intelligibility. Specifically, Stravinsky extended or even "deformed" many non-default compositional strategies already present in the 18th-19th centuries. Multiple parameters are considered: form, tonality, harmony, voice leading, figuration, and phrase rhythm.