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Riccardo Chailly and the Lucerne Festival Orchestra Unveil World Premiere of Newly-Discovered Stravinsky Work, “Funeral Song”

For immediate release

Riccardo Chailly and the Lucerne Festival Orchestra Unveil World Premiere of Newly-Discovered Stravinsky Work, “Funeral Song”

 Album Also Includes New Recording of “The Rite of Spring”

“A dazzling programme of Stravinsky. A new era has well and truly begun for the Lucerne Festival Orchestra.” – The Times


29 November 2017 (Toronto, ON) - A work by Igor Stravinsky, which many believed lost forever, is being brought back to life in spectacular style with the world premiere recording of the composer’s recently discovered “Funeral Song”. The historic new album, to be released January 12 via Decca Classics/Universal Music Canada, the country’s leading music company, features world-renowned conductor Riccardo Chailly and the Lucerne Festival Orchestra in their debut album together and the start of an exciting new partnership.

The new album restores the lost “Funeral Song” in its original Stravinsky opus sequence alongside contemporary orchestral works and a stunning new version of “The Rite of Spring”. Together, these pieces offer a captivating insight into the early work of one of the most important and influential composers of the 20th century.

“Funeral Song”, a 10-minute work for symphony orchestra, was composed in the summer of 1908 by Stravinsky (then 26) as a memorial tribute to his beloved teacher Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov. As his op.5, it is the missing link between his early “Fireworks” and “Scherzo Fantastique” (both featured on the new album) and his ballet “The Firebird”, written for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, which launched Stravinsky’s international career.

Chailly and the Lucerne Festival Orchestra offer a thrilling new account of Stravinsky’s “Funeral Song”. To hear the work on this new album, together with Stravinsky’s three previous orchestral works, allows the listener to follow the young composer on his route to worldwide success. Stravinsky himself called it, “the best of my works before ‘The Firebird’, and the most advanced in chromatic harmony.” Now its musical significance can be appreciated by listeners around the world with the release of this historic world premiere recording.

“Funeral Song” was feared lost because, as Stravinsky noted in his book The Chronicle of My Life, “the score of this work unfortunately disappeared in Russia during the Revolution, along with many other things which I had left there.” However, the work was unearthed in 2015 thanks to musicologist Natalia Braginskaya and the St. Petersburg Rimsky-Korsakov State Conservatory’s librarian Irina Sidorenko. A complete set of uncatalogued orchestral parts of “Funeral Song” was identified in a back room of the archive during a refurbishment of the old conservatoire building and subsequently a full score was reconstructed for live performance in collaboration with Stravinsky’s publisher Boosey and Hawkes.

Last December, Stravinsky’s “Funeral Song” received its first performance in 107 years, conducted by Valery Gergiev at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg. Just a few months later, the work was recorded with Chailly and the Lucerne Festival Orchestra marking the first album in their new recording partnership. It was recorded on August 19, 2017 at the Summer Festival of Lucerne Festival.

Dr. Alexander Buhr, Managing Director of Decca Classics, comments: “It is a rare treat to discover a new piece by one of the great composers, especially one of such quality and historical significance as Stravinsky’s “Funeral Song”. It has been a privilege to collaborate with Maestro Chailly, the Lucerne Festival Orchestra and Boosey & Hawkes on this world premiere recording and we are proud to add another landmark album to the rich Decca catalogue.”

Since the summer of 2016, Riccardo Chailly has taken over the artistic leadership as Music Director of the Lucerne Festival Orchestra. By founding the Lucerne Festival Orchestra in 2003, Claudio Abbado and Michael Haefliger made a direct link to the very birth of the Festival in Lucerne in 1938, when Arturo Toscanini gathered celebrated virtuosos of the time into a unique elite orchestra for a Concert de Gala. Each summer, internationally acclaimed soloists, chamber musicians, and music teachers are invited to Lucerne, and this “orchestra of friends” became established around the world as one of the leading symphony orchestras.



[1] Chant funèbre, op. 5 (Funeral Song)

[2] Feu d’artifice, op. 4 (Fireworks)

[3] Scherzo fantastique, op. 3

[4]-[6] Le Faune et la Bergére, op. 2 (The Faun and the Shepherdess)*

  1. La Bergére (The Shepherdess)
  2. Le Faune (The Faun)

III.        Le Torrent (The River)

[7]-[20] Le sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring)

*Mezzo-soprano: Sophie Koch