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Stravinsky, Igor

Stravinsky, Igor

Born in 1882


Inducted in 1998

Unquestionably one of the most influential composers in all of 20th-century music, Stravinsky did not write anything that might be considered American music. The young Igor was of course given music lessons, his career was initially directed toward law. It was in fact during his law studies at St. Petersburg University (1901-1905) that he met two sons of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, through whom he met the master himself and became a regular guest at his home. In 1905 Stravinsky began taking lessons in orchestration from Rimsky-Korsakov, and for him composed a symphony (his Op. 1) that was performed by the Court Orchestra in 1907. The famous ballet impresario Serge Diaghilev, who had heard some of Stravinsky's music, took a chance on the then unknown composer in 1909 and commissioned him to write the music for a ballet to be introduced in the first Paris season of his Ballets Russes. The Firebird, introduced in 1910, made Stravinsky a celebrity literally overnight. It was followed by the still more brilliant Petrushka the next year, and in 1913 by the riotous premiere of The Rite of Spring, the work that did perhaps more than any other to change the course of Western music. Stravinsky settled in the U.S. in 1939 and became a citizen in 1945. He made his home in Beverly Hills, where he composed his Symphony in C for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and his Symphony in Three Movements for the New York Philharmonic. His abortive attempts to supply film scores were adapted into such concert works as the Four Norwegian Moods and the Scherzo a la russe. Never one to remain locked into a single style, Stravinsky experimented with the 12-tone system in the 1950s, in such works as his Canticum sacrum (for St. Mark's in Venice), the ballet Agon (one of several for George Balanchine), and Threni. His last major work was the Requiem Canticles, composed in 1965-66. With the assistance of Robert Craft, Stravinsky published six books on his life and works, and, as conductor, recorded nearly all of his music for Columbia Records (today's Sony Classical). He was elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1949, and to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1956.

Listen to Stravinsky, Igor

"Three Movements from Petrushka (1921) "

Movement: Russian Dance
Performer: Conrad Tso (piano)
Courtesy Of: EMI Records