Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky was a Russian-born composer, pianist, and conductor widely considered one of the most important and influential composers of the 20th century.

Although he had a natural aptitude for music Stravinsky’s parents encouraged him to study law, however he paid little attention to his studies and took private music and composition lessons with Rimsky Korsakov.

He achieved international fame with three ballets commissioned by Serge Diaghilev and first performed in Paris by Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes: The Firebird (1910), Petrushka (1911) and the Rite of Spring (1913). These transformed the way in which other composers thought about rhythmic structure, and were largely responsible for Stravinsky’s enduring reputation as a musical revolutionary who pushed the boundaries of musical design.

Stravinsky was very interested in art and met Pablo Picasso in 1917. They became good friends and exchanged artworks and compositions. Picasso drew a portrait of Stravinsky, and Stravinsky presented his friend with “Sketch for music for the clarinet”. In 1920 they worked together on the ballet Pulcinella, for which Picasso created costumes and set designs, while Stravinsky adapted the original score, initially thought to have been authored by the 15th century composer Pergolesi.

Stravinsky’s compositional career was notable for its stylistic diversity, and he exerted a pervasive and dominating influence over music throughout his 7-decade career.

Emerging from the spirit of late Russian nationalism and ending his career with an individual language based on twelve-tone principles, Stravinsky assumed a number of aesthetic guises throughout the course of his development while always retaining a distinctive, essential identity.

In the 1950s, Stravinsky adopted serial procedures. His compositions of this period shared traits with examples of his earlier output: rhythmic energy, the construction of extended melodic ideas out of a few two- or three-note cells and clarity of form, and of instrumentation.

Fun Fact

The Rite of Spring caused an outrage on its premiere in Paris in 1912 and the audience ended up fighting and rioting. No one is really sure whether it was the music or the unusual dancing that provoked it.

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Igor Fyodorovich
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Minutes created
Back to School #5, Collection 2 #53

Minutes by Igor Stravinsky