Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky – Игорь Фёдорович Стравинский was a Russian, and later French and American, composer, pianist, and conductor.
He is widely acknowledged as one of the most important and influential composers of 20th century music. He was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people of the century. He became a naturalized French citizen in 1934 and a naturalized US citizen in 1945. In addition to the recognition he received for his compositions, he achieved fame as a pianist and a conductor, often at the premieres of his works.
Stravinsky’s compositional career was notable for its stylistic diversity. He first achieved international fame with three ballets commissioned by the impresario Sergei Diaghilev and performed by Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes (Russian Ballets): The Firebird (1910), Petrushka (1911/1947), and The Rite of Spring (1913). TheRite, whose premiere provoked a riot, transformed the way in which subsequent composers thought about rhythmic structure, and was largely responsible for Stravinsky’s enduring reputation as a musical revolutionary, pushing the boundaries of musical design.
After this first Russian phase, Stravinsky turned to neoclassicism in the 1920s. The works from this period tended to make use of traditional musical forms (concerto grosso, fugue, symphony), frequently concealed a vein of intense emotion beneath a surface appearance of detachment or austerity, and often paid tribute to the music of earlier masters, for example J.S. Bach andTchaikovsky.
In the 1950s he adopted serial procedures, using the new techniques over his last twenty years. Stravinsky’s compositions of this period share traits with examples of his earlier output: rhythmic energy, the construction of extended melodic ideas out of a few two- or three-note cells, and clarity of form, of instrumentation, and of utterance.
He published a number of books throughout his career, almost always with the aid of a collaborator, sometimes uncredited. In his 1936 autobiography, Chronicles of My Life, written with the help of Walter Nouvel, Stravinsky included his well-known statement that „music is, by its very nature, essentially powerless to express anything at all.“ With Alexis Roland-Manuel and Pierre Souvtchinsky he wrote his 1939–40 Harvard University Charles Eliot Norton Lectures, which were delivered in French and later collected under the title Poétique musicale in 1942 (translated in 1947 as Poetics of Music). Several interviews in which the composer spoke to Robert Craft were published asConversations with Igor Stravinsky. They collaborated on five further volumes over the following decade.
Stravinsky was born in Oranienbaum (renamed Lomonosov in 1948), Russia and brought up in Saint Petersburg. His childhood, he recalled in his autobiography, was troubled: „I never came across anyone who had any real affection for me.“ His parents were Anna Kholodovsky and Fyodor Stravinsky, a bass singer at the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg, and the young Stravinsky began piano lessons and later studied music theory and attempted some composition. In 1890, Stravinsky saw a performance ofTchaikovsky’s ballet The Sleeping Beauty at the Mariinsky Theater; the performance, his first exposure to an orchestra, mesmerized him. At fourteen, he had mastered Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto in G minor, and the next year, he finished a piano reduction of one of Glazunov’s string quartets.
Despite his enthusiasm for music, his parents expected him to become a lawyer. Stravinsky enrolled to study law at the University of Saint Petersburg in 1901, but was ill-suited for it, attending fewer than 50 class sessions in four years. By the death of his father in 1902, he had already begun spending more time on his musical studies. Because of the closure of the university in the spring of 1905, in the aftermath of Bloody Sunday, Stravinsky was prevented from taking his law finals, and received only a half-course diploma, in April 1906. Thereafter, he concentrated on music. On the advice of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, probably the leading Russian composer of the time, he decided not to enter the Saint Petersburg Conservatoire, in large part because of his age; instead, in 1905, he began to take twice-weekly private lessons from Rimsky-Korsakov, who became like a second father to him. These lessons continued until 1908.
In 1905 he was betrothed to his cousin Katerina Nossenko, whom he had known since early childhood. In spite of the Orthodox Church’s opposition to marriage between first cousins, they managed to marry on 23 January 1906. Their first two children, Fyodor and Ludmilla, were born in 1907 and 1908 respectively.
In 1909, his Feu d’artifice (Fireworks), was performed in Saint Petersburg, where it was heard by Sergei Diaghilev, the director of the Ballets Russes in Paris. Diaghilev was sufficiently impressed to commission Stravinsky to carry out some orchestrations, and then to compose a full-length ballet score, The Firebird.
- Stravinsky’s „Fanfare for a New Theatre,“ played by Friedrich & Bauer (talkingtrumpet.wordpress.com)
- Stravinsky, other Moderns at symphony (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Classical Music: As summer turns to fall, You Must Hear This 2: Francis Poulenc’s Concerto for Two Pianos (welltempered.wordpress.com)
- Summer readings: The Perfect Summer by Juliet Nicolson (guardian.co.uk)
- Bruce Weber And Stravinsky (operachic.typepad.com)
- Century-bending works and wine at SSO this weekend (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- The Galaxy – Those darn weasels! (10-2-2011) (wdbx.wordpress.com)
- Ed Koch Movie Reviews: „Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky“BY EDWARD I. KOCH (whytmedia.typepad.com)
- Hallé/Elder – review (guardian.co.uk)
- Music Review: Stravinsky’s Catalog Yields Tasty Plums (nytimes.com)