“Experience and Analysis: Stravinsky’s Neoclassicism in Interwar Paris”


Location: 122 Crowley Hall

A lecture by Sarah Iker

When the ballet Pulcinella premiered at the Palais Garnier in Paris in 1920, reviewers registered surprise at its conventional musical style. After the 1913 riots at the audacious Rite of Spring, Igor
Stravinsky’s move toward writing music that mimicked eighteenth-century styles in the 1920s felt
retrogressive and reactionary. One intrepid reviewer described the new ballet as “Pergolesi’s music, flavored by Stravinsky’s tartar sauce.” This description, while not entirely unfamiliar to current listeners,
suggests that there is something to be recovered, an essence of “what it was like” to experience Stravinsky’s
neoclassical music in its historical milieu. In this talk, we will explore some ways of recovering these historical
experiences and discuss how these experiences in turn suggest new ways to analyze Stravinsky’s neoclassical
music that remain sensitive to the musical ideas and issues that historical listeners found to be important.

Sarah Iker is an adjunct assistant professor of music history and theory at
University of Notre Dame, and a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Chicago. Her dissertation, entitled “An Experience-Oriented Approach to Analyzing Stravinsky’s Neoclassicism” combines
traditional and digital historical methods to reconstruct historical experiences and reorient analysis toward the listener. Sarah is also a pianist, handbell player, and avid ballroom dancer.


Free event, not ticketd.