The husband-and-wife team of Hans Keller and Milein Cosman looks at Stravinsky in his later years from two very different points of view: on the one hand, that of the rational music critic and analyst; on the other, that of the subjective visual artist. Milein Cosman's vigorous sketches, made during the composer's visits to London between 1958 and 1965, occupy over half the book. Although there are more sketches than seems necessary, they capture marvellously the hunched, almost repressed posture characteristic of the composer (even as a younger man), and thus lend support to some of Keller's psychological hypotheses. This physical attitude is all the more noticeable for its juxtaposition here with the crisp, refined figure of Jean Cocteau, a contrast which justifies Cocteau's inclusion amongst the sketches far more compellingly than Cosman's practical explanation that he was involved in a performance of Oedipus Rex. There is one eloquent and highly economical sketch in which Cocteau's disdain for the chair on which he is sitting seems to reach beyond the physically possible. Alas, there is nothing quite so telling among the sketches of Stravinsky himself.
LRB 30 December 1982 | PDF Download