Stravinsky’s Eight Instrumental Miniatures: The Land of Children at Play

In 1921, Igor Stravinsky composed a set of simple piano pieces for children titled, Les cinq doigts (“The Five Fingers”). Charmingly spare and neoclassical, each of the eight whimsical keyboard exercises are built on five notes, played in the right hand.

Stravinsky returned to this music in 1962 to create the 8 Instrumental Miniatures for 15 Players. It is music which inhabits the innocent, magical land of children at play. The brief movements unfold as follows: Andante, VivaceLentoAllegrettoModeratoTempo di marciaLarghettoTempo di tango. In its more dreamy, introspective moments, the music flies off to far-flung imaginary worlds. Then, suddenly, it skips and tumbles through exuberant, carefree games. We are kept company by an exotic, zany cast of instrumental “characters.”  The Allegretto is based on the Russian folk dance, Kamarinskaya. The final movement delivers an outrageous, humorously cartoonish take on the tango.

This performance features Pierre Boulez and Ensemble Intercontemporain:

Les cinq doigts (“The Five Fingers”)

Here is the music in its original form, performed by pianist Massimiliano Damerini:


  • Stravinsky: 8 Instrumental Miniatures for 15 Players, Pierre Boulez, Ensemble Intercontemporain Amazon
  • Stravinsky: Les cinq doigts, Massimiliano Damerini Amazon

Featured Image: “Portrait of Igor Stravinsky” (1920), Pablo Picasso

About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

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