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Murder by Numbers

Soldat

Tuesday at 5:45 pm


Stravinsky and L’histoire

It’s a strange story. Igor Stravinsky’s A Soldier’s Tale feels like the popular AMC TV series The Walking Dead in that the protagonist wanders the countryside, people go missing, everyone’s a stranger – in fact it really was like that in parts of Europe at the end of World War I (zombies excepted). An entire generation of young men wasted on the battlefields, Europe no longer had the infrastructure to number its dead (it’s somewhere between 9 and 17 million). The Spanish Flu of 1918 claimed another 20 to 40 million, inflicting a particularly heavy toll on the survivors of that war, persons between the ages of 20 and 40 years old.

That was the backdrop for Stravinsky’s little road show, L’histoire du soldat (1918). It was conceived as a portable theater piece “to be read, played, and danced” in villages around Switzerland. Using only seven musicians, two actors, a narrator, and a dancer, Stravinsky chose a Russian folktale for his piece, a tale of entrapment between the Devil and a soldier tramping his way home – a timely topic if ever there was one. When members of Stravinsky’s troupe succumbed to influenza, the tour of L’histoire was cancelled.

On Tuesday, Rush Hour concerts return to WFMT and the end-of-day offerings in the hustling, bustling city. The concerts at St. James Cathedral (Wabash and Huron) are free; the cathedral makes for a peaceful retreat from the evening commute. The artist line-up is excellent. Tune in to WFMT at 5:45 pm for a live broadcast of Igor Stravinsky’s L’histoire du soldat.

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