Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Igor Stravinsky Meets the Honeymooners

Wikipedia photo
Igor Stravinsky (Public Domain photo)

It All Started with a News Release

A friend recently shared some news that he as a musician was quite excited about. It was a news release about some long lost Stravinsky manuscripts:

The orchestral parts for a Stravinsky score believed to have been lost 
or destroyed in the 1917 revolutions have turned up in a pile of old manuscripts at the St. Petersburg Conservatory.

Call it stream-of-consciousness, call it word association, or just call it zany, but when I read about the discovery of Stravinsky's lost manuscripts, I said to myself, "Wow! And we thought finding the lost Honeymooners episodes was a big deal!" From there, my mind began working on on how to connect those two discoveries. I imagined Jackie Gleason's Ralph Kramden character looking through Stravinsky's lost manuscripts that he had stumbled upon. 

Kramden always seemed to be coming up  with some get-rich-quick scheme that never turned out the way he anticipated. I began to envision a Honeymooners type of scheme playing off of the Stravinsky find. 

A Story Takes Shape

Picture, if you will, that cold water flat in Brooklyn, NY. Ralph has called his friend and neighbor, Ed Norton, down to tell him of his tremendous find by the trash heap at the bus station.

"Take a look at this Norton. You just never know what people are going to throw out."

"Looks like some kind of music, Ralph."

"Dis ain't just some kind of music, Norton. Take a closer look right here. Ya see? These are gen-u-wine Stravinsky manuscripts!"

"Stravinsky, you say?" 

"Stravinsky. You know, he was one a dem famous high-brow musicians! Can you believe it, Norton? These Stravinsky manuscripts are a gold mine! A GOLD MINE I'm tellin' ya!" 

"A gold mine, huh?" Ed inquires.

"Norton! You know that talent contest we saw advertised in the paper? First prize is a brand new washing machine and dryer! What I wouldn't do do get Alice somethin' like that to help out with the housework. We can take this Stravinsky music, put some words to it and have us a show! And if we do this right, Norton, the sky's the limit. We could be on our way! Who knows where this could lead? We could see our names up in lights!"
"You said it Ralph! Just imagine, 'NORTON and KRAMDEN' lit up on Broadway!"

"I think that would be, 'KRAMDEN and NORTON." Are you forgettin' whose idea this?"

"Right you are, Ralphie! Let me get to the piano and we'll be on our way ta da big time!"

Once at the piano, Ed will crack his knuckles, adjust his seat, place his fingers on the keyboard then adjust the music. Then he will adjust the seat again, limber up his fingers with a wiggling motion, adjust the music again, put hands to the piano keys then adjust his seat again until an impatient Ralph Kramden shouts, "Will you play da piano?!"  

Ralph and Ed start hammering out some lyrics as the scene fades. In the next scene we get to see the end product of their efforts. Imagine an old-fashioned 1950s television stage production of Kramden and Norton's "Stravinsky Follies" which will surely win that washer and dryer that Ralph wants to give to Alice. If things go right, maybe Ralph can even earn enough money to get her a mink coat and a nice uptown apartment.

Of course, with it being The Honeymooners, there will have to be a turn that sets them right back into the dim reality of driving a bus for Ralph and working the sewer lines for Ed, but oh what a blissful moment it will have been, imagining a different kind of life. 

Alice and Trixie will, of course, assure there foolish husbands that they would have no other life than the one they have now. Ralph will hug his wife, and say, "Alice, your're the greatest!" as the curtain falls and the band begins to play.


(Still shots of scenes from the classic Honeymooners episodes were found online)


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