[One answer is because of its cinematic value; the role it plays in the film in setting a mood and/or commenting on the action. But here's another possibility, supplied by none other than Leonard Bernstein. The following excerpt is found in the transcription of Bernstein's famous 1973 Norton Lectures on Poetry [Harvard Univ. Press: 1976], pp. 384-9. (Bernstein's lectures are available on videotape, and are highly recommended. The numbers in brackets following some sentences refer to musical illustrations given by Bernstein.) Bernstein is discussing how poetic and musical concepts can reflect each other in a higher-level metaphorical circle. Bernstein isn't discussing Kubrick, but composer Igor Stravinsky.] * * * * * Wagner tried to create his metaphor [in TRISTAN AND ISOLDE], and succeeded, by introducing into that supreme circle particular semantic components from his poetry and his music, components that matched perfectly. The love-death idea in Isolde's words correspond almost magically with the equivalent idea in the music. When she says "Ertrinken, versinken", she does literally seem to be drowning, her voice is submerged in the sea of orchestral texture that surges around her. . . . We . . . know what we mean by wellmatched components, and what can result when they unite. But what happens when ill-matched components meet in that circle ? What happens is Igor Stravinsky. Stravinsky with all his musical incongruities: the modern with the primitive; tonality with wrong notes in it; one chord fighting another, rhythm against rhythm; the contradictions of asymmetry, of street vernacular dressed up in white tie and tails; classic forms filled with contemporary stylism, and classic styles in contemporary forms -- name a mismating: Stravinsky's written it. His works are an encyclopedia of misalliances. And what do these mismatched components produce? Indirection, obliquity, the indispensable mask of our century -- the objectified emotional statement delivered at a distance, from around the corner, and perceived, so to speak, second-hand. Second-hand? Stravinsky, that consummate original? Yes, second-hand; because the personal statement is made via quotes from the past, by alluding to the classics, by a limitless new eclecticism. This is the essence of Stravinsky's neoclassicism: he is now the great eclectic, the Thieving Magpie, "La Gazza Ladra", unashamedly borrowing and stealing from every musical museum. And this quasi-plagiaristic principle supported his compositional style over three long decades, in one way or another. It can be as overt as in PULCINELLA, which is all based on actual pieces by Pergolesi, transformed by Stravinsky's personal modernisms. Or in LE BAISER DE LA FEE, where the same machinations are wrought upon Tchaikovsky's music. . . . Think of Stravinsky's two symphonies, the violin and piano concertos, all those Balanchine ballets: there's some composer from the past lurking in every page, leering at us through the dissonance of Stravinsky's own twentieth century language. What's going on here, some kind of joke? Exactly: some kind of joke. Joke, imagine, right up there in our supreme magic circle, where those mismatched components are busily copulating. Remember: what's funny is what's incongruous; remember Groucho. And what's funny can bite deep: remember e.e. cummings. . . . There are all kinds of jokes: the humor continuum ranges all the way from slapstick burlesque through sardonic wit, through elegant satire, to black comedy and chilling dramatic irony. And it's all to be found in Stravinsky. In the most serious sense, humor, in one form or another, is the lifeblood of his neoclassicism. And I'm not talking about Elephant Polkas; I'm talking about his greatest works. Look: here is a joke and I assure you it's nothing to laugh at . This is how Stravinsky begins his SYMPHONY OF PSALMS . . . In this opening movement he is setting Psalm No. 101, in Latin: "Exaudi orationem roeare, Domine" -- hear my prayer, O Lord, give ear to my supplication. Can you imagine how a Romantic composer might have set those words? Humble, supplicatory, introspective. Hushed, awestruck. Well-matched components. But not Stravinsky. He attacks: a brusque, startling pistol-shot of a chord, followed by some kind of Bachian finger exercise . How mismatched can you get? It's the very antithesis of the Schubert-Wagner approach. It's loud, extrovert, commanding. And that's incongruous, a sublime dramatic joke. It's a prayer with teeth in it, a prayer made of steel; it violates our expectations, shatters us with its irony. . . . It's exactly what we find happening in Eliot: in THE WASTE LAND, for instance, there is a similar mighty irony when he invokes the image of Shakespeare's mad Ophelia, quoting her last words before she goes to drown. But he does it this way: Goonight Bill. Goonight Lou. Goonight May. Goonight. Ta ta. Goonight. Goonight. and only then: Good night, ladies, good night, sweet ladies, good night. Chilling. Shattering. Neoclassic. And thus Stravinsky . Yes, there is that imploring Phrygian incantation in the vocal part; but underneath the orchestral accompaniment is steel and chromium. . . .
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