Music: Serial Success

Most of Europe's major critics and a big-name-studded audience (Poet W. H. Auden, Composer Francis Poulenc et al.) braved a motorboat strike and journeyed by gondola to Venice's 450-year-old Scuola di San Rocco, one of Italy's famed Renaissance religious schools, for the fall's most eagerly awaited musical event. In hushed expectation, beneath a Tintoretto ceiling, they watched 76-year-old Igor Stravinsky, with a clawlike motion of his right hand, launch the orchestra into the premiere of his latest work. What followed was some of the finest—and most complex—music of Stravinsky's career.

The 33-minute work...

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