Igor Severyanin (1878-1941)

  1. Overture

Poem from book Pineapples and Champagne [Ananasy v shampanskon], 1915, 1'30"
Composed By – Leopoldo Amigo, Miguel Molina
Voice – Ernest Peshkov
Production Date – 2006

Igor Severyanin (or Severjanin), pseudonym of Igor Vasilevich Lotarev (b. St. Petersburg 1878 - d. Tallinn/Estonia 1941), was the poet who, in 1911, first used the word "Futurism" in Russia and who founded the movement called Ego-Futurism, which sprang from the double influence of French and Russian Decadence, alongside the mechanistic spirit of Italian Futurism - in a mixture that could mix "ice creams of lilacs" with cars and "Gatachino pink trout" with trains and planes. This poem, which opens his book "Pineapples in Champagne", skillfully, portrays these ideas of the contrast between the sophisticated glamour of Russian high society of the time, and the exciting sounds of the modern world. It was composed in 1915, on the threshold of the October Revolution, when one social class was having "pineapples" and "champagne" (products which didn 't exist in Russia unless they were imported) while another was dying of hunger, or on the battlefield. Severyanin moved through these social circ les with an ambiguous irony, adopting dandyish poses in the style of Oscar Wilde, wearing an orchid in his buttonhole, carrying a while lily in his hand or a cigarette in his mouth and looking down on the public with arrogance ("I, Igor Severyanin, a genius!"); it was for this reason that he was called "Oscar-Wildean" and rejected for "Ego-Severyanism" by the followers of the movement. Vladimir Mayakovsky, his rival, described Severyanin's face as "a liquor-glass looming up through cigar smoke", while Severyanin called the Cubo-Futurists "pseudo innovators".


Pineapples in champagne! Pineapples in champagne!
Deliriously tasty, sparkling and bright!
I'm in something from Norway! I'm in something from Spain!
I'm inspired in bursts and I sit down to write.

Planes are screeching above me! Automobiles are running!
Express trains whistling by and the yachts taking flight!
Someone's kissed over here! Someone elsewhere is beaten!
Pineapples in champagne - the pulse of the night!

Among nervous girls and in company of women
Tragedy I am turning to dream and to farce.
Pineapples in champagne! Pineapples in champagne!
Moscow to Nagasaki! New York to Mars!

[English Translation by lIya Shambat]

  1. Echo

Poem from the book Zlatolira, 1914, 0'31". MP3
Voice – Ernest Peshkov
Recording – Miguel Molina; Audio Laboratory of the UPV Opt. of Sculpture (Valencia, Spain)
Post-production – Leopoldo Amigo
Production Date – 2006

Two of Igor Severyanin and the Ego-Futurists' contributions were a new rhythm in poetry and a new orchestration of sounds. They experimented with a sophisticated variety of rhymes: Dissonant Rhyme, Assonant Rhyme, Heterotonic Rhyme, Compound Rhyme, Tautologic Rhyme, Enjambment Rhyme, Non-rhyme... In this poem Severyanin uses Echoic Rhyme where he repeats the final syllable of the second line as the only monosyllable in the fourth line of each verse; he uses this rhyme to deal ingenuously and humorously with a cliched philosophical theme about immortality. According to reports from people who heard Severyanin recite, he had a deep voice and "sang" his poems rather than reciting them, giving his audience the sensation of listening to music. He even referred to his recitals as "poezoconcert", a neologism he created. The musicality of his voice (in fact he played the piano) seduced his audiences, and the Cubo-Futurist poet Velimir Khlebnikov called him, ironically, Igor Usyplyanin ("Igor the Hypnotizer"). Severyanin even acquired the title "King of Poetry" after winning the controversial verse speaking competition organized by the Polytechnical Museum of Moscow in 1918, in which Mayakovsky came second. [edit]

Russian Futurists from the GLM Collection (1920-1959)
Sound Experiments in The Russian Avant-Garde (1908-1942)