Stravinsky Igor Fyodorovich

Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky (born June 5 [June 17, New Style], 1882 in Oranienbaum [now Lomonosov], near St. Petersburg, Russia—died April 6, 1971, New York, N.Y., U.S.).

Biography

Russian-born composer whose work had a revolutionary impact on musical thought and sensibility of the XX century, and whose compositions remain set the standard of modernism.

Igor Stravinsky was one of music's truly epochal innovators; no other composer of the twentieth century exerted such a pervasive influence on musical trends in the way that Stravinsky did during his seven-decade musical career. Aside from purely technical considerations such as rhythm and harmony, the most important hallmark of Stravinsky's style is, indeed, its changing face. His early works rooted in the spirit of Russian nationalism, whereas his career ended with a thorny, individual language of twelve-tone principles.

Although he was the son of one of the Mariinsky Theater's principal basses and a pianist, Stravinsky had no more musical training than any other Russian upper-class child. He entered law school, but also began private composition and orchestration studies with Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov. By 1909, “Scherzo Fantastique” and “Fireworks” – two of his orchestral work - had impressed Sergei Diaghilev enough for him to ask Stravinsky to orchestrate, and subsequently compose, ballets for his “Russian seasons” in Paris.

“The Firebird” (1909-1910), “Petrushka” (1910-1911), and most importantly, “The Rite of Spring” (1911-1913) - Stravinsky's early ballets –impressed both the audience and the critics.

Stravinsky and his family spent the war years in Switzerland, returning to France in 1920 only. His innovative compositions of that time, notably, “Ragtime” and “The Soldier's Tale” (1918) -- gave way to one of the most crucial musical trends – neo-Classical.

The neo-Classical “Pulcinella” (1919-1920), “The Symphony of Psalms” (1930) and “The Rake's Progress” (1948-1951) made a widespread impact and had an especial influence upon the fledgling school of American composers that looked to Stravinsky as a role model.

He had begun touring as a conductor and less as a pianist. In the 1930s, he toured the America and wrote several pieces for the American audience, including the "Dumbarton Oaks."

After the deaths of his mother, wife and daughter within a year, Stravinsky immigrated to America, settling in California with his second wife in 1940. His works between 1940 and 1950 show a mixture of styles, but still seem centered on Russian or French traditions. Stravinsky's cultural perspective was changed after meeting Robert Craft. This life period of Stravinsky is characterized by interest to new techniques, 12-tone composition in particular.

An original adaption of the US hymn, made by Stravinsky in 1944 led to his arrest and a fine. Audio recordings of his compositions were made in 50-60s. In 1962, he toured the USSR.

Stravinsky continued to compose until his death and was buried in Italy.