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Stravinsky, Igor (1882-1971)

Igor Stravinsky

born: 17 June 1882
died: 6 April 1971
country: Russia

The son of the Principal Bass at the Mariinsky Theatre, Stravinsky was born at the Baltic resort of Oranienbaum near St Petersburg in 1882. Through his father he met many of the leading musicians of the day and came into contact with the world of the musical theatre. In 1903 he became a pupil of Rimsky-Korsakov, which allowed him to get his orchestral works performed and as a result he came to the attention of Sergei Diaghilev, who commissioned a new ballet from him, The Firebird.

The success of The Firebird, and then Petrushka (1911) and The Rite of Spring (1913) confirmed his status as a leading young composer. Stravinsky now spent most of his time in Switzerland and France, but continued to compose for Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes: Pulcinella (1920), Mavra (1922), Renard (1922), Les Noces (1923), Oedipus Rex (1927) and Apollo (1928).

Stravinsky settled in France in 1920, eventually becoming a French citizen in 1934, and during this period moved away from his Russianism towards a new ‘neo-classical’ style. Personal tragedy in the form of his daughter, wife and mother all dying within eight months of each other, and the onset of the Second World War persuaded Stravinsky to move to America in 1939, where he lived until his death. From the 1950s, his compositional style again changed, this time in favour of a form of serialism. He continued to take on an exhausting schedule of conducting engagements until 1967, and died in New York in 1971. He was buried in Venice on the island of San Michele, close to the grave of Diaghilev.

from notes by Andrew Stewart © 2011


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