Igor Stravinsky


Born: Jun 17, 1882; Russia   Died: Apr 6, 1971; USA   Period: 20th Century
Igor Stravinsky was one of music's truly epochal innovators; no other composer of the twentieth century exerted such a pervasive influence or dominated his art in the way that Stravinsky did during his seven-decade musical career. Aside from purely technical considerations such as rhythm and harmony, the most important hallmark of Stravinsky's style is, indeed, its changing face. Emerging from the spirit of late Russian nationalism and ending his Read more career with a thorny, individual language steeped in twelve-tone principles, Stravinsky assumed a number of aesthetic guises throughout the course of his development while always retaining a distinctive, essential identity.
Although he was the son of one of the Mariinsky Theater's principal basses and a talented amateur pianist, Stravinsky had no more musical training than that of any other Russian upper-class child. He entered law school, but also began private composition and orchestration studies with Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov. By 1909, the orchestral works Scherzo fantastique and Fireworks had impressed Sergei Diaghilev enough for him to ask Stravinsky to orchestrate, and subsequently compose, ballets for his company. Stravinsky's triad of early ballets -- The Firebird (1909-1910), Petrushka (1910-1911), and most importantly, The Rite of Spring (1911-1913) -- did more to establish his reputation than any of his other works; indeed, the riot which followed the premiere of The Rite is one of the most notorious events in music history.
Stravinsky and his family spent the war years in Switzerland, returning to France in 1920. His jazz-inflected essays of the 1910s and 1920s -- notably, Ragtime (1918) and The Soldier's Tale (1918) -- gave way to one of the composer's most influential aesthetic turns. The neo-Classical tautness of works as diverse as the ballet Pulcinella (1919-1920), the Symphony of Psalms (1930) and, decades later, the opera The Rake's Progress (1948-1951) made a widespread impact and had an especial influence upon the fledgling school of American composers that looked to Stravinsky as its primary model. He had begun touring as a conductor and pianist, generally performing his own works. In the 1930s, he toured the Americas and wrote several pieces fulfilling American commissions, including the Concerto in E flat, "Dumbarton Oaks."
After the deaths of his daughter, his wife, and his mother within a period of less than a year, Stravinsky emmigrated to America, settling in California with his second wife in 1940. His works between 1940 and 1950 show a mixture of styles, but still seem centered on Russian or French traditions. Stravinsky's cultural perspective was changed after Robert Craft became his musical assistant, handling rehearsals for Stravinsky, traveling with him, and later, co-authoring his memoirs. Craft is credited with helping Stravinsky accept 12-tone composition as one of the tools of his trade. Characteristically, though, he made novel use of such principles in his own music, producing works in a highly original vein: Movements (1958-1959) for piano and orchestra, Variations: Aldous Huxley in Memoriam (1963), and the Requiem Canticles (1965-1966) are among the most striking. Craft prepared the musicians for the exemplary series of Columbia Records LPs Stravinsky conducted through the stereo era, covering virtually all his significant works. Despite declining health in his last years, Stravinsky continued to compose until just before his death in April 1971. Read less
Stravinsky: Complete Music for Solo PIano / Shevchenko
Release Date: 04/20/2018   Label: Delphian  
Catalog: 34203   Number of Discs: 2
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Stravinsky: Violin Concerto, Etc / Frautschi, Craft, Et Al
Release Date: 07/31/2007   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8557508   Number of Discs: 1
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Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring - Debussy: La Mer / Raat
Release Date: 01/12/2018   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8573576   Number of Discs: 1
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Stravinsky: Music for Violin, Vol. 2 / Gringolts
Release Date: 06/01/2018   Label: Bis  
Catalog: 2275   Number of Discs: 1
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Stravinsky: Symphony In C, Symphony In 3 Movements / Craft, Philharmonia Orchestra
Release Date: 01/27/2009   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8557507   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Pétrouchka


Stravinsky: Petrouchka - Version 1947 - Scene 1 - The Shrovetide Fair - The Crowds - The Conjuring-trick
Stravinsky: Petrouchka - Version 1947 - Scene 1 - Russian Dance
Stravinsky: Petrouchka - Version 1947 - Scene 2 - Petrouchka's Room
Stravinsky: Petrouchka - Version 1947 - Scene 3 - The Moor's Room - Dance of the Ballerina
Stravinsky: Petrouchka - Version 1947 - Scene 3 - Waltz (The Ballerina and the Moor)
Stravinsky: Petrouchka - Version 1947 - Scene 4 - The Shrovetide Fair (Evening)
Stravinsky: Petrouchka - Version 1947 - Scene 4 - Dance of the Wet-nurses
Stravinsky: Petrouchka - Version 1947 - Scene 4 - Dance of the Peasant and the Bear
Stravinsky: Petrouchka - Version 1947 - Scene 4 - The Merchant and the Gipsies
Stravinsky: Petrouchka - Version 1947 - Scene 4 - Dance of the Coachmen and the Grooms
Stravinsky: Petrouchka - Version 1947 - Scene 4 - The Masqueraders
Stravinsky: Petrouchka - Version 1947 - Scene 4 - The Scuffle
Stravinsky: Petrouchka - Version 1947 - Scene 4 - Death of Petrouchka
Stravinsky: Petrouchka - Version 1947 - Scene 4 - The Police and the Charlatan
Stravinsky: Petrouchka - Version 1947 - Scene 4 - Apparition of Petrouchka's Ghost
About This Work
When Igor Stravinsky returned to the score of his 1911 ballet Petrushka in 1947, he did so having dedicated much of his creative energies during the intervening decades to developing a more economical, streamlined, objective style. On one hand, then, Read more the 1947 revision of the work might be considered a retroactive application of the composer's neo-Classicist tendencies. On the other hand, the revised version brings out certain elements of the work that had been part of its initial creative conception -- even before Stravinsky had determined to use the musical ideas in a ballet.

In fact, Stravinsky initially undertook Petrushka as a kind of compositional reprieve between the completion of the ballet The Firebird for the Ballets Russes in 1910 and the commencement of the score for The Rite of Spring, for the same troupe, in 1913. He imagined a work for orchestra with a prominent piano part; the pianist he imagined as some kind of clownish puppet come to life, "exasperating the patience of the orchestra with diabolical cascades of arpeggios." The impresario of the Ballet Russes, Sergey Diaghilev, heard in the excerpts Stravinsky played for him the possibility of another ballet, and the work was thus expanded from its original concert scope to its full theatrical realization.

The 1947 version of Petrushka returns to the music something of its original character and adapts it for concert rather than stage performance. As the second of Stravinsky's three "Russian Period" ballets, the 1911 production had called for rather large orchestral forces; the revised score trims most of the wind parts from four players to three and sharpens the textures. Also, the piano itself is given pride of place, helping to articulate the bitonal harmonies that, in the ballet, had been the title character's musical signature. Read less

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