Music At Oakmont: A Stravinsky Gem & an Oakmont Premiere

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  • Rosemary Waller
Left Coast Chamber Ensemble

In 1917 the writer Charles-Ferdinand Ramuz and composer Igor Stravinsky found themselves stranded in neutral Switzerland. Foreign royalties for both men were frozen by the Great War and the Russian Revolution. To secure much-needed income, Ramuz and Stravinsky decided to set a Russian fairy tale to music, dance, and narration. To be produced on a shoestring with the simplest of staging and minimum of participants, the theater piece could be easily mounted on tours of small towns and villages within Switzerland. But their timing was off. The work was not finished until the end of the war. The 1918 flu epidemic intervened, and after just one performance in Lausanne, The Soldier’s Tale was mostly forgotten for the next 60 years. Music at Oakmont will present this delightful work (in English) on Thursday, Dec. 13, at 1:30 PM in Berger Center.


Here is writer Sarah Wallin’s synopsis:
“A young soldier returning from war gives his violin to the devil in exchange for a book that predicts the future economy. The devil must teach the soldier how to interpret the book, so the soldier agrees to go home with the devil for three days. When the soldier returns to his hometown, everyone thinks he is a ghost. He has actually been gone for three years. He starts to despair, but the devil encourages him to put the book’s power to good use. The soldier becomes wealthy, but begins to pine for his simpler old life. He meets the devil again, who sells him his old violin, but he can no longer play. Then a friend tells him that a nearby princess is dying, and the king has announced that whoever cures her will become her husband.

“The soldier journeys to the castle, but the devil is already there, disguised as a virtuoso violinist. In order to win the princess’s hand, the soldier must regain his power. He does so by purposely losing all his money to the devil in a card game. The soldier seizes his violin and begins to play. When the princess hears him, she becomes miraculously healed and begins to dance. The devil tries to interfere, but the soldier now has power and forces the devil to dance to exhaustion. The devil succumbs, but warns that if the soldier ever leaves the castle, the devil will take possession of his soul. Years later, the princess convinces the soldier to return to his hometown to see his mother. As he approaches her door, the devil is there, waiting to take him away.”


The Soldier’s Tale lasts approximately one hour, and will be performed without intermission. Our traditional birthday party for our illustrious founder Bob Hayden will follow immediately. Please join us in the fireplace room for cake and punch, and to toast Bob!

WHAT: Music at Oakmont

WHEN: Thursday, Dec. 13, 1:30 PM

WHERE: Berger Center

ADMISSION: $20, or season pass


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