Diaghilev wanted a ballet based on an early eighteenth-century Commedia dell'arte libretto and music believed (in Diaghilev's time) to have been composed by Giovanni Pergolesi. (Although the music was then attributed to Pergolesi, much of that attribution has since proved to be spurious; some of the music may have been written by Domenico Gallo, Unico Wilhelm van Wassenaer, Carlo Ignazio Monza and possibly Alessandro Parisotti). Conductor Ernest Ansermet wrote to Stravinsky in 1919 about the prospect, but the composer initially did not like the idea of music by Pergolesi. However, once he studied the scores, which Diaghilev had found in libraries in Naples and London, he changed his mind. Stravinsky rewrote this older music in a more modern way by borrowing specific themes and textures, but interjecting modern rhythms, cadences and harmonies. Pulcinella is scored for a modern chamber orchestra with soprano, tenor, and baritone soloists. Pulcinella is often considered to be the first piece of Stravinsky's neoclassical period.
More pieces by Stravinsky
- The Firebird (Complete Ballet, 1910)