IGOR STRAVINSKY 1882-1971
"Portrait of Igor Stravinsky"
Author Rinat Kuramshin
Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky (1882-1971) was a Russian composer, pianist and director, one of the greatest representatives of the world musical culture of the XX century. Stravinsky’s creative life is a live history of music of the XX century. His life was as a mirror reflecting the development of the modern art seeking new ways.
Stravinsky’s universalism is surprising. It manifests itself in the world musical range, variety of creative searches and performing (pianist and director) activity for over 40 years. He was acquainted with prominent people like N.Rimsky-Korsakov, А.Lyadov, А.Glazunov, V.Stasov, S.Diaghilev, artists А.Matisse, P.Picasso, R.Roland, T.Mann,
А.Zhid, Ch.Chaplin, C.Debussy, М.Ravel, А.Shenberg,
P.Hindemith, M. de Falla, G.Faure, E.Satie, the French composers belonging to the "Six" group and others. All his life Stravinsky was in the focus of the public attention and at the intersection of most important artistic ways. The geography of his life occupies many countries.
He began to study music at the age of 20. His first teacher was N. Rimsky-Korsakov. Stravinsky’s first compositions were the Sonata for Piano, the Faun and Shepherdess, the Symphony in the E-Flat, the Scherzo Fantastique and the Firework for orchestra. These works influenced by the school of Rimsky-Korsakov and the French impressionists.
The Russian period of Stravinsky’s creative work starts from the Firework and includes three ballets created for S.Diaghilev: the Firebird (1910), the Petrushka (1911) and the Rite of Spring (1911-1913). These pieces have much in common: they were composed for a big orchestra and they used Russian folklore motifs. The composer deepened into the folklore antiquity and dramatically changed the musical language and images which made an impression of an exploded bomb.
Diaghilev found the talented composer at the premier of his suite Faun and Shepherdess. Stravinsky staged 10 of his ballets during Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. Each of the great ballets composed by Stravinsky turned the Ballets Russes into a global cultural sensation. But if the Firebird and the Petrushka caused great admiration from the first sounds, the Rite of Spring was hated so much that a great scandal occurred at the premier. The Rite of Spring ballet was premiered on May 29, 1913 in Paris and it provoked a fighting among the public for the first time in the history of music. The Parisians called Stravinsky’s music "barbarous"and himself an "uncontrolled Russian".
Ballet "Melody". 1978
Theater Champs Elysees
Selected vocal compositions
Fountain of I. Stravinsky
The next performances were accepted better in Paris and London, and the press expressed sympathy in their publications. Diaghilev and Stravinsky were friends for a long time. "It was always scary and peaceful at the same time to work with this person. He had such a formidable power", Stravinsky remembered in his "Chronicles of my Life".
In 1920, Stravinsky moved to France. This period was filled with composing and performing activity. He lived in France till 1939 and then left for the USA. The immigration had a strong impact on his creative work. His music lost the Russian color. Specialists note that during his early foreign activity Stravinsky still used the Russian folklore style: the Soldier’s Tale and the Svadebka. Later on, his music moved towards religion and classicism. The Appolo Musagetes, the Psalms Symphony, the Fairy’s Kiss, the Pulcinella - these works are different from the ones he wrote at the beginning of his creative biography. The neoclassical period continued till 1954. It started with the Mavra opera. By the end of his creative work the composer turned to antiquity and myths of Ancient Greece. The Orpheus ballet and the Persephona opera were composed by him. In the 1950’s he started using serial techniques. The transitional work of that period was the Cantata based on the poems by unknown English poets. The following works were completely serial and without tonality.
Stravinsky proved adept at playing the part of a ‘man of the world’, acquiring a keen instinct for business matters and appearing relaxed and comfortable in public. His successful career as a pianist and conductor took him to many of the world’s major cities, including Paris, Venice, Berlin, London, Amsterdam and New York and he was known for his polite, courteous and helpful manner.
Igor Stravinsky’s creative work had a great influence on the music of the XX century. His works are masterpieces of musical modernism and are part of repertoire plaid by orchestras in many countries.
In 1998, Time magazine named Stavinsky as one of the 100 most influential people of the century.