Stravinsky in London 1958
When Stravinsky was given the Sonning Award in 1959, the Ministry was far-sighted enough
to arrange a dinner for him at Christiansborg to which a lot of people were invited. There
were several hundred guests, but one of the Permanent Undersecretaries, Henning Rohde -
now he was a man with a lot of imagination - had arranged for the composers, after dinner,
to meet Stravinsky around a little round coffee table. So we sat there and were able to
sit and talk with him for a few hours. This is one of those things one looks back on with
gratitude - that an imaginative civil servant had arranged something like that.
And of course it was fascinating, he spoke of various things, for example, he advised us
against translations - if one had composed something to a particular language one should
not allow it to be performed in other languages, as the language itself is part of the
music. Interesting things like this emerged in the course of our conversations with him.
But I also recall a funny, or really half sad, tragi-comic episode, when my old teacher,
Finn Høffding, had acted as a guide for him in the 20s, and the same day as he was to
meet Stravinsky in the evening he showed me a photograph taken of Stravinsky with a lady
whom they did not know - that is, Carl Nielsen, Høffding and all the others ..., Schnedler-Petersen
- a photograph taken at a dinner in Nimb in the 20s at which there had been this lady, and
they did not realise - did not know that it was his wife. Well, on that evening there
around the coffee table Høffding went over to Igor Stravinsky and showed him this photo,
and then Stravinsky exclaimed: Vera, Vera, look, here's a picture of us from that
time we haven't got any pictures from. And so he bowed deeply in a very chivalrous
manner and accepted the picture which wasn't meant for him at all, on the contrary, in
fact, Høffding's wife had said to Finn: Now, Finn, you mustn't give the picture
away!... Hee, Hee! But Stravinsky took it away with him that evening.