Igor Stravinsky's "The Soldier's Tale" (2005)


Pictures from the rehersal via mrssylargray


Exiled in Switzerland, Igor Stravinsky composed The Soldier’s Tale in 1918 towards the end of one of the bleakest periods in his life. Theaters were shut down, his career appeared to have come to a halt, and his royalties were drying up just when he had a family to support. It was at this time that he and his fellow exiles conceived of the idea to create a minimalist theatrical piece – “pocket theater” – that easily could be taken on tour around local villages. It premiered in September of 1918 in Lausanne with Ernst Ansermet conducting, and the Concert Suite premiered two years later.

Stravinsky suggested they base the story on a collection of Russian folk-tales, but with a French text by his poet/novelist friend C.F. Ramuz. Not a playwright, Ramuz suggested he write a story rather than a play and adapt it for stage presentation as a kind of acted narration. The soldier was intended to be neither Russian nor French nor even Swiss but rather Any Soldier, and “the music too was to turn its back resolutely on Russia.” The composer based the percussion on that of the jazz band, and he bought and learned to play each of the instruments as he composed the work, incorporating such musical references as march, waltz, church chorale, pasadoble, tango, and ragtime.

A Narrator tells the tale of a Soldier who is tricked by the Devil into exchanging his soul – in the form of a violin – for a magic book that will bring him wealth and power. Later the Devil, appearing each time in a different disguise, teaches the Soldier how to use his magic book, and then returns to taunt him after the Soldier has made his fortune but finds himself miserable and alone. The Narrator breaks through the imaginary barrier of the story and joins the Soldier in Part Two to advise him to lose to the Devil in a game of cards and thereby win back his violin. Successful, the Soldier sets off to a distant kingdom to cure a Princess of illness and win her hand in marriage. Not so easily defeated, the Devil returns vowing revenge…

Source: Ping Pong Productions

Leonard Nimoy Narrates
March 5 & 6, 2005

Theodore Kuchar, conductor 
Leonard Nimoy, narrator

Kodaly Dances of Galanta
Beethoven Incidental Music from Egmont
Stravinsky L'Histoire du Soldat
Mendelssohn Symphony No. 4, Italian

Mr. Nimoy will do narration for Kodaly's Dances of Galanta and Stravinsky's L'Histoire fu Soldat (The Soldier's Tale). The son of a Boston barber, the legendary Leonard Nimoy studied acting in college but had few memorable parts until he catapulted to fame in 1966 as Mr. Spock in Star Trek, one of TV's most successful series ever. The role won him three Emmy nominations and launched his career as a writer and director, as well as numerous other film and TV appearances. Stage credits have included Fiddler on the Roof, Oliver, Camelot, and Equus. In addition to hosting the well-known TV series, In Search of and Ancient Mysteries, Mr. Nimoy has narrated with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Reno Chamber Orchestra, and others. Truly a Renaissance man, he has authored several volumes of poetry, recorded over 60 songs, and created a gallery of serious photography.

Source: http://www.fresnophil.org

Stravinsky as a Crowd Pleaser? Who Knew?

"The Soldier's Tale" was presented in a delightfully updated English version of the original French libretto, written by Mr. Sheffer, who staged and directed this simple production. Mr. Thomas was wonderful as the befuddled soldier who sells his scrappy but beloved violin to the Devil, thereby losing his soul. The Devil was played to the hilt by the charmingly cagey Mr. Nimoy. The Purchase Conservatory Faculty Ensemble needed no conductor in order to give an assured and vibrant account of this enduring score.

Source: NY Times

Leonard Nimoy with the Reno Chamber Orchestra

Band: Leonard Nimoy with the Reno Chamber Orchestra
Title: A Soldier’s Tale / Incidental Music from “Egmont” Op. 84
Year: 2003 / 2005
Label: N/A
Genre: Classical

Notes: Twice, I’ve recorded Mr. Nimoy and his wonderful voice! First time was when he was doing Stavinsky’s “A Soldier’s Tale,” in 2003. It was a great piece with just an octet and narrator. It was the story of Faust, a story re-written by Charlie Daniels in “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” It’s a tricky piece with a lot of odd time meters and changes. Rehearsal was interesting, to say the least.

Before he came in for rehearsal, I had to set up his vocal mic and improvise a split between the PA and the recording console. I nearly didn’t pull that off with what was available at the hall at the time. The next time I recorded him there, I was far more prepared with a splitter.

I had to set up his mic and asked him if he’d be willing to talk into it at a certain angle to avoid feedback. He asked why and I explained the acoustics behind it. Turning to him afterwards to see if I had perhaps blinded him with science, his reply was, “Fascinating!”

The last line of “Soldiers” is now one of my favorite quotes. Picture, if you will, Mr. Nimoy saying at the end of a very sad story of a man who got greedy and lost everything to the Devil when he should have been content with what he had:

“One happy thing is every happy thing. No one can have it all. It is forbidden!”


Second time was in 2005 when he was doing the Beethoven piece, “Egmont.” It’s a larger piece, with a larger ensemble, but nowhere near as cool as the Stravinsky. Some good moments though. He says “Riding” about a thousand times in it.

This time I was with my dear friend, Ray Silva, who assisted on the recording setup, took the photos and was able to tell Mr. Nimoy that he works on the same sound stage where Star Trek was shot. That was very nice. During a break, Mr. Nimoy signed some autographs for members of the ensemble which was also very nice of him. This is where I got my copy of the Spock album signed.

Since he lives in Tahoe, I’m considering hiring him to do my answering machine outgoing message. That’s probably all I’ll be able to afford. Perhaps a V.O. for a solo album one day! That would be brilliant!

Note: Responsive

Photo Flash: Story of a Soldier Rehearsal with Nimoy and Thomas

On March 16th, actors Richard Thomas (A Naked Girl on the Appian Way, Democracy) and Leonard Nimoy ("Star Trek," Equus) rehearsed for Story of a Soldier, a music theater piece, at Symphony Space (2537 Broadway). Nimoy will narrate the piece.

Story of a Soldier will be presented as part of the free event Wall to Wall Stravinsky at Symphony Space on March 18th from 11 AM through 11 PM. "They rioted after the premiere of The Rite of Spring. But Igor Stravinsky represents more than that notorious day in musical history. His wildly eclectic body of work includes the neo-classical ballet Pulcinella and a big band concerto written for Benny Goodman – and this 12-hour event provides a taste of everything. With hundreds of performers, Wall to Wall will follow Stravinsky from St. Petersburg to Los Angeles, from ballet to opera, from neo-classicism to atonal fireworks," state press notes.

Pictures at broadwayWORLD.com