L'Oiseau de Feu (W16) (Dutch: The Firebird; English: The Firebird and Russian: Zhar Ptitsa) is a fairy tale ballet in two scenes (Conte games and deux tableaux) by Igor Stravinsky, composed between 1909 and 1910 in Saint Petersburg , and dedicated to ' my best friend Andrey Rimsky-Korsakov ', the son of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.The first performance took place on 25 June 1910 in the Opera of Paris by the Ballets Russes , conducted by the composer and conductor Gabriel Pierné. The work belongs, together with Petrushka and Le Sacre du printemps, to Stravinsky's three large ' Russian ' Ballets-the best known and most popular compositions of the composer-and it's probably always been the most popular of the three. From the beginning the public felt attracted by the romantic subject and to the musical idiom of the piece. It is regularly – mostly as a concert piece-performed and repeatedly included.

L'Oiseau de Feu is written for large Orchestra – ' wasteful big ' said Stravinsky itself – and it composed the composer able to reach all kinds of orchestral effects;Stravinsky's Instrumentation is brilliant to say the least. The composition is artistic Stravinsky's first mature work.


[hide]*1 the legislative history

The legislative history[Edit]Edit

The idea for a ballet based on the Russian legend of the Firebird was by Sergei Diaghilev and his staff worked out in 1909. Michel Fokine would take care of the choreography, the music would by Diaghilev's former teacher harmony Anatoli Liadov are composed. Since it appeared that this would have finished the work on time, turned to Stravinsky. Stravinsky had already two parts for Diaghilev for the ballet Les Sylphides instrumented.

Stravinsky left for L'Oiseau de Feu work on his opera Le Rossignol rest and started at the beginning of november 1909, for the official command, to composition in thedacha of the family of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov outside Saint Petersburg. Mid-april 1910 was the Orchestrascore ready. The subject asked for not actually wanted to write music that Stravinsky: program music. But he has with verve to dedicated, clearly not to shame that confidence in him had set. Stravinsky himself said later that in his composition the influence of both Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov is noticeable: the what he calls opera-like and vocal element of harmony and Orchestra Tchaikovsky and the colour of Rimsky-Korsakov. So were theglissando Horn's already used by Rimsky-Korsakov in his Mlada.

The composition was created in close cooperation with Fokine, though Stravinsky later told that anyone who had been involved in the project had delivered its share and it especially had been Leon Bakst that the scenario had worked out. Bakst also designed the costumes of the Firebird and the Prince. Stravinsky was kept informed of every detail in the choreography, by any interpretation of his score. He was at all rehearsals of the Ballets Russes in Saint-Petersburg. Tamara Karsavina replaced theImperial Ballet 's Anna Pavlova to the music too complicated and meaningless because this was made.

After the company had left after a short break to Paris followed Stravinsky to to attend the final rehearsals there. Arrived at the end of May 1910 Stravinsky in Paris. The Firebird was a success from the beginning and after the premiere on 25 June 1910 Stravinsky was famous. The Firebird was new by his style and expression, but it was also at the same time, not revolutionary, and that took care of an immediate success with the public. Also artists showed their admiration: Claude DebussyMaurice RavelManuel de FallaFlorent Schmitt and Erik Satie. The subsequent summer met Stravinsky in Paris Giacomo PucciniSarah BernhardtMarcel Proust and Paul Claudel.

Stravinsky was with this work in Paris, the artistic and musical heart of the world, accepted.

  • [1]

    Tamara Karsavina (ca. 1912)

  • [2]

    Portrait of Diaghilev/Bakst

The composition[Edit]Edit

The complete ballet L'Oiseau de Feu has the following parts:

  1. Introduction (Introduction)
  2. Premier Tableau (first scene)-Le Jardin enchanté the Kastchei (The Enchanted Garden of Kachcheï)
  3. Apparition de l'Oiseau de feu, par Ivan Tsarévitch pursuive (appearance of the Firebird, chased by Ivan Tsarévitch)
  4. Danse de l'Oiseau de Feu (dance of the Firebird)
  5. Capture the l'Oiseau de feu par Ivan Tsarévitch (Ivan Tsarévitch captures the Firebird)
  6. Supplications de l'Oiseau de feu (supplication of the Firebird)
  7. Apparition des treize princesses enchantées (appearance of thirteen enchanted princesses)
  8. Jeu des princesses avec les pommes d'or (Scherzo) (game of the princesses with the Golden Apples)
  9. Brusque apparition d'Ivan Tsarévitch (sudden appearance of Ivan Tsarévitch)
  10. Khovorode (round) des princesses (dance of the princesses)
  11. Liver du jour – Ivan Tsarévitch pénètre dans le palais de Kastchei (Dawn – Ivan Tsarévitch goes the Palace of Kastcheibinnen)
  12. Carillon Féerique, apparition des mons tres-Kastcheiet capture the gardiens d'Ivan Tsarévitch (Kachcheï's Carillion, fairy-like appearance of the monstrous guardians and the imprisonment of Ivan Tsarévitch)
  13. Kastcheil'Immortel – the Kastcheiavec Ivan Kastchei the Dialogue ' Arrivée – Intercession des Princesses (arrival of Kastchei Kachcheï's dialogue with Ivan Kastcheide Immortal – – intervening of the princesses
  14. Apparition de l'Oiseau de feu (appearance of the Firebird)
  15. Danse de la Kachcheï, par suite de l'Oiseau de feu enchantée (dance of Kachcheï's a result, enchanted by the Firebird)
  16. Danse infernale de tous les sujets the Kastchei (Infernal dance of all Kachcheï's nationals)
  17. Berceuse (L'Oiseau de feu) (sleep song – the Firebird)
  18. Mort de Kastchei (death of Kachcheï)
  19. Deuxième Tableau (2nd scene)-Disparition du palais et des pétrifiés, magic spells, the Kachcheï animation allégresse générale des chevaliers (demise of Kachcheï's Palace – come to life by the petrified Knights – General joy)

For the distinction between the natural and the supernatural Stravinsky made use of which Rimsky-Korsakov had already applied for are not yet published the Golden Cockerel. The music for Ivan Tsarevich, the Princesses and the hymn for the Thanksgiving in the finals is strongly Khovorod diatonic, the two themes are folk melodies, while all the music from the magical world – both for the Firebird as Kastchei – is made up of a chromatic interval, an excessive quarter. In terms of rhythm makes Stravinsky much use of syncopations: in the bass in the dance of the Firebird to the fluttering sound pecking and to suggest, to a mathematical effect for the carillon, in the infernal dance of Kastchei and his subjects. Syncope ring and other rhythmic resources fit within the framework of the regular size.

  • [3]

    design for the costume of the Firebird/Bakst

  • [4]

    Léon Bakst

  • [5]

    design for costume for the Firebird/Bakst

The story[Edit]Edit

The story is about two kinds of magical creatures: the Firebird, which represents the good, and the wizard Kastchei, the embodiment of evil. Woe to the man who in his power comes. Girls are held captive, men turned to stone. Kastchei is immortal as long as his soul remains unaffected; that soul is in the shape of an egg kept in a casket. The young Prince, Ivan Tsarevitch, roams at night by the Magic Garden of Kastchei hunting for the Firebird. He finds the Firebird in the trees with the Golden Apples. Ivan captures the bird; who begs him to spare her and promises to help him in Exchange for her freedom. Ivan takes off her a spring from as a condition for her freedom.

Ivan then meets a group of 13 girls and he falls in love with one of them; He discovers that she and the other girls are princesses who are caught by the spell of Kastchei. At dawn, the girls return to Kastchei's Palace; Ivan breaks open the gate and there sounds a carillon whereby he is discovered by the guard Kastchei's samples. Ivan wait the fate of the other men: he will change in stone. Ivan remembers the feather of the Firebird; He swings and the bird appears and mesmerizes Kastchei and his followers who run a large wild helle dance; the Firebird sings a song and then sleep Kastchei and his friends fall asleep. The Firebird reveals the secret of immortality and Ivan Kastchei's brings him to the cave where the egg is clogged. Ivan opens the casket and flings the egg is broken; the magician dies right away, the spells are broken and the prisoners are free again. Tsarevna and Ivan are getting married.

Suites and transcriptions[Edit]Edit


  • The first concert suite, tirée du conte that games ' suite ' "L'Oiseau de Feu" ' on the title page is called, was created in 1911. The orchestration is more or less equal to the complete works. The work was using the same printing plates issued, with minor adjustments in order to give an appropriate slot on the share.The parts of this suite (where the numbers above refer to the full format):
    • Introduction – Kachcheï's ' Enchanted Garden ' – ' dance of the Firebird ' (numbers 1 tm 4, omitting parts)
    • ' Supplication of the Firebird ' (number 6)
    • ' The game of the princesses with the Golden Apples "(number 8)
    • ' The khovorod of the Princesses (number 10)
    • Infernal dance of all Kachcheï's nationals
  • The second concert suite was written in 1919 in Morges for a smaller Orchestra. The parts of this suite are:
    • Introduction – ' the Firebird and its dance ' – variation of the Firebird (number 1, number 2, 3 and 4)
    • ' The khovorod of the Princesses (number 10)
    • ' Infernal dance of King Kachcheï ' (number 16)
    • "Sleep song" (number 17, supplemented with few bars as coda and what sizes to the finals from the introductory sostenuto , number 19)
    • Final (number 19, without the sostenuto)
  • The Third Orchestra suite (called ' Ballet Suite ') was made the same smaller Orchestra in 1945 as the second suite. The parts of this suite are:
    • Introduction – ' Prelude and dance of the Firebird (Firebird) ' – ' Variations ' (same as second suite, with small changes in the Instrumentation)
    • ' Pantomime I ' (various excerpts from complete work)
    • "Pas de deux: Firebird and Ivan Tsarevitch (partly number 6)
    • ' Pantomime II ' (various excerpts from complete work)
    • ' Scherzo: Dance of the princesses ' (number 8)
    • ' Pantomime III ' (number 9)
    • ' Rondo ' (Khovorod; same as second suite, with small changes in the Instrumentation)
    • ' Infernal dance ' (same as second suite, with small changes in the Instrumentation)
    • ' Sleep song (Firebird) ' (ditto)
    • ' Slot hymn ' (ditto)


  • Berceuse. This part was published separately by the Publisher Jurgenson blazers parties with limited in 1912
  • Prélude et Tour des Princesses for violin and piano, was written in 1929 and dedicated to Paul Kochanski
  • Berceuse for violin and piano, from 1929, was also to Paul Kochanski
  • Berceuse in a new transcription for violin and piano from 1933 by Stravinsky and Samuel Dushkin. Dushkin had itself made a transcription already in 1931 which Stravinsky not very pleased
  • Scherzo for violin and piano from 1933 for violin and piano
  • Summer Moon, with a text by John Klenner, on a variant of the melody for the Khovorod of the Princesses (number 10). * Stravinky's share in this transcription is been minimal.
  • Canon on a Russian Popular Tune for Orchestra


  • André Boucourechliev, (1987), Stravinsky (translation into English from French), New York, Holmes & Meier
  • Igor Stravinsky and Robert Craft (2002), Memories and Commentaries, London, Faber and Faber
  • Igor Stravinsky and Robert Craft (1972), Themes and Conclusions, London, Faber abd F
  • White, Eric Walter (1979), Stravinsky. The Composer and his Works, London, Faber and Faber

Selected discography[Edit]Edit

  • Complete ballet (1910)
    • Columbia Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Igor Stravinsky (Igor ' Stravinsky Edition ' in the ' Ballets vol. I ', Sony Classical SM3K 46 291 3 CDs)
    • Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Pierre Boulez (together with Feu d'artifice and Quatre Etudes pour orchestre; DGG 437 850-2)
    • City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra conducted by Simon Rattle (with the ' Quatre etudes "and" Scherzo à la russe '; EMI 7 49178 2)
  • Ballet suites:
    • First Orchestra suite: BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Pierre Boulez (with ' Pulcinella suite ', ' Scherzo fantastique ' and the two ' Suites for small Orchestra '; Sony Classical SMK 45 843)
    • Third Orchestra suite: Columbia Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Igor Stravinsky (Igor ' Stravinsky Edition ' in the ' Ballet Suites ', Sony Classical SMK 46 293)

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