Friday, June 17, 2011

Happy Birthday Igor Stravinsky (June 17,1882 - April 6, 1971)

On a warm, May evening in Paris at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, a barely recognizable bassoon sang out the first few bars of the new ballet, The Rite of Spring. The bassoon continued in the highest notes of the intrument’s range as the dancers took their cues on stage. The audience, dressed to the nines, began to shift uncomfortably in their seats. Moments later, composer Camille Saint-Saëns walked out of the performance, loudly complaining that the bassoon had been misused. Fights broke out as members of the audience argued over the artistic value of the piece. People shouted both insults and accolades at the stage. Whether or not audiences were ready for it, Modernism had arrived in the classical music world.

Over the years, Stravinsky experimented with and transformed many 20th Century musical techniques including Neo-classicism, polytonal styles, and 12-tone serialism. Though his compositions were influenced by Russia’s expressive folk music and the romantic orchestrations of his famous teacher, Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov, his own voice was always present through his unique, energetic, rhythmic drive.

Stravinsky is also famous for his cosmopolitan lifestyle. He travelled the world and became a citizen in both France and the United States. He had numerous affairs with influential women, including Coco Chanel, and his second wife, dancer and artist Vera de Bosset. He was also close friends with composer Claude Debussy, author Aldous Huxley, and artist Pable Picasso.

Igor Stravinsky was an energetic, charismatic, musical revolutionary that never stopped evolving and experimenting. His personal life was as interesting and controversial as his musical creations. Learn more from Lincoln City Libraries!


Stravinsky in Pictures and Documents - by Vera Stravinsky & Robert Craft

Stravinsky - The Second Exile: France & America (1934-1971) - by Stephen Walsh


Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky - (2009) Sony Pictures


The Firebird: Russian Fairy Tale - Seattle Symphony Orchestra
The Rite of Spring - London Symphony Orchestra

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