Igor Stravinsky

Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971), a Russian composer and a descendant of Polish noble family, which, although Russified, had always cultivated the memory of Sulima coat of arms.
He used to live in Russia, Switzerland, Paris and New York. As a pupil of Rimski-Korsakov, he at first continued the national tradition of The Mighty Handful. His cooperation with Diaghilev and the Ballet Russes brought about several ingenious works: The Firebird,
Petrushka and The Rite of Spring. The audiences received them either with enthusiasm, or with outrage, but never indifferently. In those days Stravinsky elaborated an individual technique of organising the structure of his works by the means of ‘partones’, that is, contrastive melodic ideas, repeated according to a definite scheme, sometimes modified; with an alternating beat. He would experiment with various music forms, sometimes reducing them, and adopting fairy tales (The Soldier’s Tale). About 1920 Stravinsky turned to the music of earlier French and Italian masters (his Pulcinella is regarded as one of the chief works of neoclassicism). He also paid the tribute to Bach and religious music (Symphony of Psalms). During the World War II, while dwelling in the USA, he was inspired by the local symphony and jazz tradition (The Ebony Concerto, Symphony in Three Movements).
After the war, when he finished The Rake’s Progress, he realised he needed a radical change.
He turned to dodecaphony and used it in his own, individual way (Canticum sacrum, Agon, The Flood, and his last masterpiece composed in 1966, Requiem canticles).
Stravinsky’s music and his aesthetics used to raise controversies. Since he objected against the 20th century avant-garde postulate of ‘progress in art’, which rejected the tradition, Th. W. Adorno called Stravinsky ‘the restorer of the past’, and regarded Schӧnberg as an ideal of a modern composer. But it is Stravinsky whose works belong to the international music canon, next to Bach and Beethoven.


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