Igor Strawinsky


Igor Stravinsky (born June 5 [June 17, New Style], 1882, Oranienbaum [now Lomonosov], near St. Petersburg, Russia) is a composer whose work had a revolutionary impact on musical thought and sensibility just before and after World War I. Rimsky-Korsakov tutored Stravinsky in orchestration and acted as the budding composer’s mentor. He also used his influence to get his pupil’s music performed. In February 1909 his short but brilliant orchestral piece, the Scherzo fantastique was performed in St. Petersburg at a concert attended by the impresario Serge Diaghilev, who was so impressed by Stravinsky’s promise as a composer that he quickly commissioned some orchestral arrangements for the summer season of his Ballets Russes in Paris. For the 1910 ballet season Diaghilev approached Stravinsky again, this time commissioning the musical score for a new full-length ballet on the subject of the Firebird. The premiere of The Firebird at the Paris Opéra on June 25, 1910, was a dazzling success that made Stravinsky known overnight as one of the most gifted of the younger generation of composers. The following year saw the Ballets Russes’s premiere on June 13, 1911, of the ballet Petrushka, with Vaslav Nijinsky dancing the title role to Stravinsky’s musical score. Meanwhile, Stravinsky had conceived the idea of writing a kind of symphonic pagan ritual to be called Great Sacrifice. The result was The Rite of Spring (Le Sacre du printemps), the composition of which was spread over two years (1911–13). The first performance of The Rite of Spring at the Théâtre des Champs Élysées on May 29, 1913, provoked one of the more famous first-night riots in the history of musical theatre. World War I effectively marooned him in Switzerland, where he and his family had regularly spent their winters, and it was there that they spent most of the war. The Russian Revolution of October 1917 finally extinguished any hope Stravinsky may have had of returning to his native land. In the years following World War I, Stravinsky’s ties with Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes had been renewed, but on a much looser basis. In 1938 Stravinsky’s oldest daughter died of tuberculosis, and the deaths of his wife and mother followed in 1939, just months before World War II broke out. Early in 1940 he married Vera de Bosset, whom he had known for many years. In autumn 1939 Stravinsky had visited the United States  and in 1940 he and his new wife settled permanently in Hollywood, California. They became U.S. citizens in 1945. His last major work, Requiem Canticles (1966), is a profoundly moving adaptation of modern serial techniques to a personal imaginative vision that was deeply rooted in his Russian past. He died April 6, 1971 in New York. (Source: Britannica)