Ramuz, C. F. Souvenirs sur Igor Strawinsky. Avec 6 hors-texte. Lausanne : Mermod, 1929. First edition, printed wrapper in paper with original publisher’s glassine dust wrapper, now worn. French text. Limited edition, copy number 838. This copy inscribed and signed by Igor Stravinsky to economist Eric D. Bouet, on the first page of text, opposite a frontispiece portrait of Stravinsky. Achevé d’imprimer au Verseau à Lausanne le dix octobre mil neuf cent vingt-neuf sous la direction de C. Sauter. 22 cm x 16.5 cm, 106 pages, 105 paginated. Text begins on page 11, counting front-cover as page 1. Six plates: frontispiece of Stravinsky; Vue de la Crochettaz; Le Treytorrens ou de la Crochettaz ; Portrait de Ramuz par I Strawinsky 29 juin 1917 chez Noverry Lausanne ; Page du brouillion de <<Noces>> ; and on the verso, Sous-verre de René Auberjonois, <<Hom[m]age à Igor Strawinsky>>.
Ramuz made the acquaintance of Stravinsky in the autumn of 1915, after the history-making premiere of Le Sacre du Printemps in 1913 and the outbreak of World War I in 1914, on the recommendation of Ernest Ansermet, the conductor for Diaghilev’s Russian Ballet in 1915. Stravinsky’s sources of income dried up because of the Diaghilev company’s inability to tour and the Russian revolution of 1917. The idea of creating a touring theatre piece for narrator and a small ensemble, which could be easily staged was a brilliant wartime idea born of Stravinsky’s need. Ramuz wrote the narration for L’histoire du soldat (The Soldier’s Tale).
Ramuz wrote into his Souvenirs sur Igor Strawinsky a record of the great events that took place during their collaboration, giving great attention to the Russian revolution and to Lenin. Remarkably, Ramuz did not lose his well-rooted Vaudois identity during the collaboration, nor after, when he wrote his account. Describing the landscape of the Canton of Vaud in words as he imagined Cézanne would have painted it, Ramuz wrote of the grape harvest, as the vendange during wartime rationing assumed greater importance during le temps du macaroni bleu.
The collaboration between Ramuz and Stravinsky began with Renard (1915-16) which required a tale from a Russian text to be written in French, which Stravinsky translated into French, reading to Ramuz verse after verse, and counting the syllables in each verse. Ramuz notated the dictation word for word, raising the question of longeurs – the long and short — and the questions about vowels, which note was to be written for an “o” or an “a” to preserve the meter. Remarking on a verse of 7 syllables, followed by one of 8, or one of 9, or the reverse, Ramuz recorded this artistic collaboration in detail and not without humor.
Recounting the premiere of L’histoire in Lausanne at 9:00 P.M. (“une heure extremement tardive pour Lausanne”), Ramuz describes the project as “notre projet de théâtre ambulant.” In the same paragraph, he wrote that they could not have foreseen the events foreshadowing the troupe’s trips to other cities. The Spanish Flu, which killed robust young men in three days, was duly recorded by Ramuz. Perhaps the most important account is Ramuz’s record of Stravinsky’s personal recollections of old Russia at the time of the Russian revolution.
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