Serenade (Stravinsky)

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Serenade in A is a composition for solo piano by Russian composer Igor Stravinsky. It was completed on September 9, 1925, in Vienna,[1] and published by Boosey & Hawkes[2] This work was composed as a result of his signing his first recording contract for Brunswick, so Stravinsky wrote the piece in a way that each movement would fit on one side of a 78 rpm gramophone record.[3] It was dedicated to his wife.[2]


This composition consists of four movements and should take 12 minutes to perform. The movement list is as follows:

  1. Hymne (Hymn)
  2. Romanza (Romance)
  3. Rondoletto
  4. Cadenza finala (Final cadence)

Even though the work is titled "Serenade in A", it is not actually in the key of A major nor in A minor. According to Eric White, A is not the "key" of the work, but rather the music radiates from and tends towards A as a "tonic pole". Thus, the first and the last chord of each movement contains the note A, either as the root, third, or fifth of a triad.[4] According to Stravinsky, the piece was conceived "in imitation of the Nachtmusik of the eighteenth century, which was usually commissioned by patron princes for various festive occasions, and included, as did the suites, an indeterminate number of pieces".[5] Therefore, the movement titles are meant to evoke the specific parts of such festive celebration.

From the pianist's perspective "Hymne" is related to Frédéric Chopin's Ballade No. 2 in F major, while the "Cadenza finala" reflects Stravinsky's Russian heritage.[6]


  1. ^ Alexander Carpenter, "Igor Stravinsky: Serenade for Piano in A major" (n.p.: Rovi Corp, n.d.) (Accessed July 27, 2012).
  2. ^ a b Igor Stravinsky (1980). Soulima Stravinsky, ed. "Serenade In A". Serenade in A. London; New York: Boosey & Hawkes. Retrieved July 27, 2012.
  3. ^ David Truslove, "Igor Stravinsky – Piano Music", liner notes to Stravinsky: Music for Piano Solo, Naxos 8.570377, January 2008. Accessed July 12, 2013.
  4. ^ Eric Walter White, Stravinsky: The Composer and His Works, second edition (Berkeley and Los Angeles: The University of California Press, 1979): 324. ISBN 0-520-03985-8.
  5. ^ Igor Stravinsky, An Autobiography (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1962): 124. ISBN 0-393-00161-X; OCLC 311867794. Originally published in French as Chroniques de ma vie, 2 vols. (Paris: Denoël et Steele, 1935), subsequently translated (anonymously) as Chronicle of My Life. London: Gollancz, 1936. OCLC 1354065. This edition reprinted as Igor Stravinsky An Autobiography, with a preface by Eric Walter White (London: Calder and Boyars, 1975) ISBN 0-7145-1063-7 (cloth); ISBN 0-7145-1082-3 (pbk.). Reprinted again as An Autobiography (1903–1934) (London: Boyars, 1990) ISBN 0-7145-1063-7 (cased); ISBN 0-7145-1082-3 (pbk). Also published as Igor Stravinsky An Autobiography (New York: M. & J. Steuer, 1958).
  6. ^ John Ogdon, "Stravinsky and the Piano", Tempo, new series, no. 81, Stravinsky's 85th Birthday (Summer 1967): 36–41. Citation on 40; Alfredo Casella, "Stravinsky" (Brescia: Editrice La Scuola, 1947): 129.

Further reading[edit]

  • Boettcher, Bonna J. 1991. A Study of Stravinsky's Sonate pour piano (1924) and Sérénade en la. San Francisco: Mellen Research University. ISBN 0-7734-9806-0.
  • Cone, Edward T. 1962. "Stravinsky: The Progress of a Method". Perspectives of New Music 1, no. 1 (Fall): 18–26.
  • Joseph, Charles M. 1983. Stravinsky and the Piano. Russian Music Studies 8. Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press.
  • Martins, José António Oliveira. 2006. "Stravinsky's Discontinuities, Harmonic Practice, and the Guidonian Space in the 'Hymne' from the Serenade in A". Theory and Practice 31:39–63.
  • Straus, Joseph N. 1987. "The Problem of Coherence in Stravinsky's Sérénade in la". Theory and Practice 12:3–10.
  • White, Eric Walter. 1948. Stravinsky: A Critical Survey, 1882–1946. New York: Philosophical Library. Reprinted, Mineola, NY: Courier Dover Publications, 1997. ISBN 0486297551.