Elegy for J. F. K. is scored for baritone or mezzo-soprano accompanied by three clarinets (two B♭ clarinets and an alto clarinet in E♭), and is a twelve-tone serial composition. The text, in four haiku stanzas each of 17 syllables, was written at Stravinsky's request by W. H. Auden in memory of assassinated President John F. Kennedy, and Stravinsky chose to repeat the opening stanza at the end (White 1979, 533–34). Elegy makes use of various textural changes to accommodate the changes in vocal register. The piece is in ternary form, just like the poem, meaning that material is repeated in the first and last nine measures. Various compositional elements suggest the severity of the topic such as the frequent use of da capo, the perfect fifth D♯–A♯ in the clarinets from mm. 7–8, and the repeated tritone G♯–D throughout.

Librettist Wystan Hugh Auden
Date of composition 1964
Premiered 1964, April 6th in Los Angeles, CA, United States
Dedicated to Commemorating the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy.
Type Elegy
Approx. duration 4 minutes
Spoken language English
Instruments Voice - (Baritone or Mezzo-Soprano)
Alto Clarinet
2x Clarinet
Autotranslations beta Igor Stravinsky: Elegy for J.F.K.
Igor' Fëdorovič Stravinskij: Elegy for J.F.K.
Igor Strawinsky: Elegy for J.F.K.