L'Histoire du Soldat

From Wind Repertory Project
Igor Stravinsky

Igor Stravinsky

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This work’s title translates as “The Soldier’s Tale.”

General Info

Year: 1918
Duration: c. 31:00 (with narration)
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Wise Music
Cost: Score and Parts - Rental


1. The Solder’s March - 1:45
2. Airs by the Stream - 2:45
3. Pastorale
4. The Royal March - 2:50
5. The Little Concert
6. Three Dances - Tango, Valse, Ragtime
7. The Little Chorale
8. The Devil’s Dance - 1:20
9. Grand Chorale
10. Triumphal March of the Devil


B-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Trumpet
String Bass

(percussion detail desired)



None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Igor Starvinsky’s L’Histoire du Soldat, (The Soldier’s Story) (1918) describes the story of Joseph, a young Russian soldier in WWI, who gives his violin to the devil in exchange for a book that predicts the economy of the future. (I. “Marche du Soldat”)

The devil must teach the soldier how to interpret the book, so the soldier agrees to go home with the devil for three days. (II. “Le Violon du Soldat”) When the solder returns to his home town, everyone thinks he is a ghost: he has actually been gone three years. He starts to despair, but encounters the devil, who encourages him to put the book’s power to good use. The soldier becomes extremely wealthy, but begins to pine for the happiness of his simpler old life. He meets the devil again, who sells him his old violin, but he can no longer play.

Then he sees an old war friend who tells him that a nearby princess is dying, and that the king has announced that whoever heals her will become her husband. The soldier journeys to the castle, but the devil is already there disguised as a virtuoso violinist. In order to win the princess’s hand, the solder must regain his power. He does so by purposely losing all his money to the devil in a card game. With the return of his power, the devil now falters and the soldier seizes his violin and begins to play. (III. "Petit Concert”) When the princess hears the soldier’s violin playing, she become miraculously healed and begins to dance. (IV. “Tango-Valse-Ragtime”) The devil tries to interfere with the couple, but the soldier has power over him as he plays his violin and forces the devil to dance to exhaustion. (V. “Danse du Diable”) The devil succumbs, but warns that if the solder ever leaves the castle, the devil will take possession of his soul.

Years later, the princess convinces the solder to return to his home town to see his mother. As he approaches her door, the devil is there waiting to take him away.

- Program note by Brigitte Garney

Stravinsky had first met the Swiss writer C.F. Ramuz in 1915 and worked with him on the French version of Renard and Les Noces, so it was not surprising when he again collaborated with him on the L’Histoire du Soldat a few years later. The war had understandably affected the financial situation, and both composer and librettist wanted to write something which could be produced simply and economically.

L’Histoire du Soldat is scored for dancer, three speaking parts and seven instruments and has proved to be successful on an almost unbelievable international scale since its first performance in Lausanne in September 1918 (described in the program as “to be read, played and danced”).

- Program note by publisher

N.B. Two Stravinsky associates, Robert Craft and Lawrence Morton, contend that Stravinsky did not intend the title to begin with "L'". That was added by British publishers. Stravinsky preferred Histoire du Soldat, according to Craft and Lawrence.


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • uclaFLUX Contemporary Ensemble (Celeste Crabb, conductor) – 6 June 2023
  • United States Marine Band (Washington, D.C.) (Jason K. Fettig, conductor) - 17 October 2021
  • New England Conservatory (Boston, Mass.) Wind Ensemble (Luke Camarillo, conductor) - 3 February 2021
  • Northeastern University (Boston, Mass.) Wind Ensemble Chamber Ensemble - 23 February 2020
  • Michigan State University (East Lansing) Chamber Winds (Kevin Sedatole, conductor; Marc Embree, narrator) – 20 November 2018
  • Lawrence University (Appleton, Wisc.) Faculty Chamber Ensemble (Matthew Arau, conductor) - 4 October 2015
  • American Chamber Winds (David Waybright, conductor) – 21 January 2015
  • University of Southern California Thornton Wind Ensemble (H. Robert Reynolds, conductor) - 4 November 2012
  • Prince William Symphony Players (David Montgomery, conductor) - 2012

Works for Winds by This Composer