Concerto in E-flat "Dumbarton Oaks"

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Concerto in E-flat
Dumbarton Oaks, 8.v.38
Chamber concerto by Igor Stravinsky
Dumbarton Oaks music room (color).jpg
The music room at Dumbarton Oaks
Composed1937 (1937)–38
DedicationRobert Woods Bliss and Mildred Barnes Bliss
PerformedMay 8, 1938 (1938-05-08): Dumbarton Oaks
Scoringchamber orchestra

Concerto in E-flat, inscribed Dumbarton Oaks, 8.v.38 (1937–38) is a chamber concerto by Igor Stravinsky, named for the Dumbarton Oaks estate of Robert Woods Bliss and Mildred Barnes Bliss in Washington, DC, who commissioned it for their thirtieth wedding anniversary. Composed in Stravinsky's neoclassical period, the piece is one of Stravinsky's two chamber concertos (the other being the Concerto in D, for strings, 1946) and is scored for a chamber orchestra of flute, B clarinet, bassoon, two horns, three violins, three violas, two cellos, and two double basses. The three movements, Tempo giusto, Allegretto, and Con moto, performed without a break, total roughly twelve minutes. The concerto was heavily inspired by Bach's set of Brandenburg Concertos, and was the last work Stravinsky completed in Europe, started in spring 1937 at the Château de Montoux near Annemasse, near Geneva, Switzerland, and finished in Paris on March 29, 1938 (White 1979, 400; Benton n.d.; Walsh n.d.).

The commission had been brokered by Nadia Boulanger (Brooks 2010, 75). She also conducted the May 8, 1938 private premiere in the music room at Dumbarton Oaks, while the composer was hospitalized with tuberculosis. The public premiere took place in Paris on June 4, 1938, at a concert of La Sérénade, with Stravinsky conducting (White 1979, 401). The full-score manuscript, formerly owned by Mr. and Mrs. Robert Woods Bliss, is in the Harvard University Rare Book Collection of the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library, Washington, D.C. (White 1979, 400).

Stravinsky himself created a reduction for two pianos (White 1979, 400). Leif Thybo's 1952 transcription for organ laid the foundation for his investigation of the possibilities of the modern form of the instrument (Jakobsen n.d.). A ballet, choreographed by Jerome Robbins, was premiered by the New York City Ballet on June 23, 1972, calling for one principal and six corps dancers of each sex (Anon. n.d.; Walsh n.d.).


  • Anon. n.d. "Repertory Index: Dumbarton Oaks". Robbins Rights Trust website (archive from 19 April 2016, accessed 9 February 2018).
  • Benton, Rita. n.d. "Libraries", Grove Music Online, edited by Laura Macy, accessed 15 February 2006.
  • Brooks, Jeanice. 2010. "Collecting Past and Present: Music History and Musical Performance at Dumbarton Oaks." In A Home of the Humanities: The Collecting and Patronage of Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss, ed. James N. Carder, pp. 74–91. Washington D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks.
  • Jakobsen, Erik H. A. n.d. "Thybo, Leif". Grove Music Online, edited by Laura Macy (accessed 15 February 2006).
  • Walsh, Stephen. n.d. "Stravinsky, Igor". Grove Music Online, edited by Laura Macy (accessed 15 February 2006).
  • White, Eric Walter. 1979. Stravinsky: The Composer and His Works, second edition. Berkeley and Los Angeles: The University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-03985-8.

Further reading[edit]

  • Rogers, Lynne. 1992. "Dissociation in Stravinsky's Russian and Neoclassical Music". International Journal of Musicology 1:201–28.
  • Straus, Joseph. 1982. "Stravinsky's 'Tonal Axis'". Journal of Music Theory 26, no. 2 (Autumn): 261–90.

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