- Category : Entertain-Music-Composer/Arranger
- Type : MGE
- Profile : 4/6 - Opportunistic / Role Model
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Eden 2
Russian composer and conductor, considered by many to be one of the greatest and most versatile composers of the twentieth century. He helped revolutionize modern music with his vast imagination and impeccable craftsmanship. Stravinsky was to music what Picasso was to art; he departed radically from musical tradition by using irregular, primitive rhythms and harsh dissonances. His greatest works include "The Firebird," 1910, "The Rites of Spring," 1913 "Petrouchka," 1923, "The Rake's Progress,"1951, "Symphony of Wind Instruments," 1920 and "The Dumbarton Oaks Concerts," 1938. Author of "Chronicles of My Life," 1936, "The Poetics of Music," 1947. His later literary works "Memoirs and Commentaries," 1960, "Expositions and Developments," 1962 and "Dialogues and a Diary," 1963, were all co-written with American composer Robert Craft.
Stravinsky led a privileged childhood, spending much of his youth on the vast estates of his aristocratic relatives. His father was a Russian opera singer who raised his son to be educated for the law. Music was young Igor's avocation until he met Rimsy-Korsakov in 1902, and began to study music formally with him in 1907. One year later his first symphony was performed. His prodigious ability was brought to the attention of Russian impresario Sergei Diaghilev of the Ballet Russe, who commissioned the young composer to write ballet scores. Dropping his law books forever, Stravinsky became an overnight sensation when his famous ballet "Firebird," was performed in 1910. When the avant-garde ballet "The Rite of Spring," choreographed by Nijinsky, was first performed in Paris three years later, riotous protests broke out in what Stravinsky later called "the battle of May 29, 1913." The following year the work was performed by a symphony orchestra and was recognized as a landmark and masterpiece of modern music.
Only seven years prior he had decided on a career in music. After 1914 and the beginning of WW I, he left Russia for Switzerland where he composed ballets based on Russian themes, most notably, "The Wedding" in 1923. After the Russian Revolution of 1917, Stravinsky considered himself an exile. Moving to Paris in the late '20s, he became a French citizen in 1934 and joined the Russian Orthodox Church in 1926; his devout Christianity inspired many of his later works. He toured Europe and the US as a pianist and as a conductor of his own works.
Stravinsky married a cousin, Katrina Nossenico, on 1/11/1906. They had four children, son Theodore Fyodor, born 1907, daughter Ludmilla, born 1908, son Sviatoslav and daughter Milene born in 1914. In 1939, his wife, daughter and mother all died.
He was invited to do the Harvard lecture series and he moved to the U.S. the following year, having lost so much of what his life meant in Europe. He became an American citizen in 1945. Acknowledging the American environment, he composed his famous "Circus Polka" in 1942 for the elephants of Barnum and Bailey Circus and his "Ebony Concerto" in 1945 for Woody Herman. The young American conductor Robert Craft became Stravinsky's inseparable assistant from 1948.
On 3/9/1940 he married Vera Day Bosset Suderkine, a woman whom he had first met in 1921; they spent the happiest years of his life after that time.
On his 80th birthday in 1962 Stravinsky made a triumphant return to Russia. In 1969 he and his wife moved to New York City.
Stravinsky died holding his wife's hand on 4/06/1971, 5:20 AM, New York, NY.
Following the death of his widow Vera in 1983, The Morgan library, The New York Public Library, his children and biographer and protégé Robert Craft fought bitterly over the possession of Stravinsky's archives. Swiss conductor and valium millionaire Paul Sacher finally won them for 5.25 million.