Igor Stravinsky: A Sermon, a Narrative and a Prayer

Written by Leann Osterkamp


In category: Song of the Day

Published November 29, 2018

Igor Stravinsky became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1945. After a little over a decade of living in the United States, Stravinsky entered into what is often referred to as his Serial Period. Arnold Schoenberg and Stravinsky often butted heads in their time, arguing over the future of classical music. Though Stravinsky was known to criticize Schoenberg’s compositional process, he quickly made use of the serial techniques and dodecaphony that had been associated with Schoenberg’s style immediately upon Schoenberg’s death in 1951. His cantata, A Sermon, a Narrative and a Prayer comes from the years 1960-61. The work exemplifies a blending of his neo-classist style with the serialist trends commonly seen in the United States during the first half of the century. For example, the work uses canons, a technique Stravinsky often modeled after J.S. Bach or earlier polyphonic composers. However, in this piece, the blending of the canonic style with serialism parallels Stravinsky with composers like Pierre Boulez. The evolution of Stravinsky’s style post-immigration to America is striking.

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Leann Osterkamp is a passionate educator, solo/collaborative pianist, and recording artist. She is an American Presidential Scholar of the Arts and a Steinway Artist. She has garnered numerous accolades, in both performance and academia, starting with her first competitive win at age 8. She has performed/lectured at Caramoor, the Kennedy Center,  Carnegie’s Weill Hall, Steinway Hall, and the Library of Congress. She has recorded for Steinway Spirio and WQXR. Her solo album The Complete Works of Leonard Bernstein for Solo Piano and her recording of John Musto’s Improvisation & Fugue are released under the Steinway and Sons Label. Leann received her training at Juilliard and The Graduate Center CUNY. Formerly Adjunct Faculty at Juilliard, where she taught for 6 years, she is currently the Orchestra Director, Piano/Guitar faculty, and Boys Choir Director at Regis Jesuit High School. Leann joined the NYFOS family in 2014 as the first pianist to be invited to the Caramoor Rising Vocal Star Residency, and will be featured in Hyphenated-Americans on February 20, 2019 at Merkin Hall.


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