STRAVINSKY AND HANNIBAL



     "...Keep the elephants moving," says the actor Victor Mature over and over again in the Hollywood movie dedicated to the cunning fox of Carthage and his melodramatic crossing of the Alps with an improbable armored division of elephantine assault vehicles, determined to sweep down and devastate the unsuspecting plains of Italy and to lay waste to Rome once and for all.

     One afternoon the telephone rang a few millennia later, and the most famous composer of the day, now living happily in Hollywood, picked up the receiver:

        "Maestro?"
        "Who is speaking..."
        "You don't know me but you do know my circus because it is the Greatest Show on Earth."
        "...Show?"
        "We open with our dancing elephants, real prima donnas. They do the first act. What we need from you is some ballet music for dancing elephants..."

Silence.
        
        "Hello? Hello?"

Silence.

     Then the voice of Igor Stravinsky responded:

     "How long do the elephants dance..."

     Sandro Zendralli: "I had a cousin at Roveredo who was a musician and a painter, and looking back I think he was someome who greatly stimulated the future course of my life. He had studied at the conservatory, and also had more than a superficial knowledge of philosophy. He played the piano magnificently, and in addition to that he was also a composer. At the "Piccolo Teatro" of Milan he had given at least one concert. My brothers and I would go to his rustic studio, which was near his house, and as he played we fell under a spell of enchantment. He was the first person I heard speak of a great painter whom I later came to love so greatly, Kandinsky.

     "I gained my first acquaintance with these things through my cousin, who had two brothers, one a pharmacist and the other a lawyer. These three brothers were the sons of a medical doctor at Roveredo, who during the Second World War gave refuge to a variety of people, writers and artists. Pierre Rocart, Sironi, Marino Marini... he gave them hospitality and they often left behind paintings as a sign of their gratitude. These works, and the spirit of these authors, had a definite influence on my early development, and I remember examining them very closely. This is one thing that inspired me and confirmed my passion of art and architecture.
 
     "I think I gained a sense of great equilibrium from Kandinsky. A genial and geometrical equilibrium, of color and lightness, which I discovered matched exactly the emotions I felt listening to the music of Stravinsky. I saw only one thing, and that was the emotion that was at the foundation of both. When I was working on a new project, I found that listening to music was a great help to me, and somehow I associate this with drawing. Later on, in the elaboration of a project, again and again I would go back and look at the original drawing, and there I would find all the answers.

     "From Stravinsky I learned to understand that rhythm which I call geometric. The sounds Stravinsky assembles establish very particular responses in the soul of the auditor. I think of certain passages for violins in which I feel exactly the sensation of early springtime, especially in "Petruschka" with its soft ritornello that one hears from the distance like a memory of childhood.

© 2014 SANDRO ZENDRALLI