1.14.14 | Detail
In reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, I have noticed a painstaking amount of detail put simply into the description of the environment. Charles Dickens also wrote with such detail in his novels, but I believe that Shelley intended to emphasize the brilliance of nature in contrast to the seemingly grotesque monster of Frankenstein. Frankenstein’s monster can appreciate the sublimity of nature even in the midst of the contempt humans have for him. His creator has an affinity for nature, where the elements of nature metaphorically represent his state of mind. Nature is the one thing that neither of these characters can be rid of, or be rid from.
Igor Stravinsky’s musical work, Petrushka, presents a narrative in which a puppet is brought to life only to find suffering and a hasty death. Ironically, the piece takes on a joyous mood more often than not. The puppet is a ballerina’s lover, but is disappointed to find that she has eyes only for a Moor. In the four tableaux (characteristic sections of the entire piece), the puppet is illustrated with intense humanization, much of which underlines his sorrow and conflict with the Moor. However, Petrushka is brought to life with the setting of this ballet set to music. The piece traverses a lively fair in the first tableau, a dark cell in the second tableau, the Moor’s room in the third tableau, and the restatement of the fair in the fourth and final tableau.
Petrushka is not of a simple programmatic nature, but is quite unique in the relatively unorthodox methods of the composer to intertwine human character with environment.
Original orchestral work:
Abridged piano transcription (by the composer):