The Sacrifice of Isaac in the Music of Britten and Stravinsky: Hidden Rivalry and Creative Polemics


The article explores two works of the 20th century composers on the subject of the sacrifice of Isaac: the second canticle of Benjamin Britten and the sacred ballad of Igor Stravinsky. The analysis of the interpretation of the spiritual plot which is extremely important for all monotheistic religions and of the system of musical means used by each of the composers allows us to speak about the polarity of the aesthetic and ethical attitudes of Britten and Stravinsky. It can be assumed that Britten’s music language was not of much interest to Stravinsky and was left by him without attention — but the humanist pathos of the British musician and his critical attitude to the spiritual traditions of Europe got a kind of counterbalance in the form of the sacred ballad “Abraham and Isaac”, whose author represents the “ideal” model of the patriarchal world, where the main value is the unconditional obedience.


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