Igor Stravinsky

IGOR STRAVINSKY, one of the colossal figures of twentieth-century music, was an enormous influence on several generations of artists and it was no accident that he was nicknamed “the composer in the hundred styles”. Like his brilliant contemporary Picasso, he underwent different creative periods and continues to surprise with the unexpected turns in his artistic aesthetics, but retaining his own, ever distinguishable and singular personal style. Having blazed a shining trail in early twentieth-century European music with his three “Russian” ballets Firebird, Petrushka and The Rite of Spring, written on commission from impresario Sergei Diaghilev for his ballet company and the Parisian Saisons Russes, Stravinsky opened new horizons to the young generation of French artists with the “invention” of the potential of musical archaism as basis for most daring explorations in the area of rhythmics and timbre. But only a few years later, he turned to the heritage of the great masters of old and by stylizing ancient genres, techniques and themes from the epochs of Baroque and Classicism, became the founder one of the defining styles of twentieth century – Neoclassicism. Over thirty years of his creative work in Paris and America were marked by this aesthetics, and saw the appearance of masterpieces such as the opera-oratorio Oedipus rex, Symphony of Psalms, the neoclassical opera The Rake’s Progress and many others. And in the early fifties, he suddenly made yet another turn, this time to the technique of serial dodecaphony – not without the influence of Robert Kraft, who served as Stravinsky’s music assistant throughout his American period and was also the co-author of his memoir book Dialogues.

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