Music: Igor Stravinsky

Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky (1882 - 1971) was a Russian-born composer. He is the only classical composer present on Time Magazine's list of "100 People of the 20th Century". Regardless of what criticism people might have of this list, Igor Stravinsky is widely acknowledged as a massively influential composer and one of the most important and iconic figures of modern classical music.

Igor Stravinsky's most famous works include three early ballets: The Firebird", "Petrushka", and The Rite of Spring". "The Firebird" is one of the most accessible and popular works that Igor Stravinsky wrote, and was his first major work, premiering in 1910. Many people will recognize certain parts of the piece due to its use in Fantasia 2000 and the opening for live concerts of Yes. It was frequently compared to the works of Claude Debussy by critics. It uses many more Romantic elements than Stravinsky's later work.

"Petrushka" is a ballet about a puppet that come to life. It premiered in 1911, and is a more modernistic work, using more polytonality and polyrhythms. Although less accessible it nevertheless found critical success upon its debut, and is very popular today.

"The Rite of Spring" was a ballet portraying a savage tribal ritual in which a virgin is sacrificed to bring about spring; it premiered in 1913. It uses dissonance, primitive melodies, polyrhythm, and polytonality, to express this. It was met with extreme hostility on its opening night (the audience rioted, leaving few people in the theater and Stravinsky in tears.) The piece is now critically acclaimed as a masterpiece, and is one of the most famous works of classical music of the modern era, and of all time. Walt Disney even used it in the original Fantasia, which cemented its reputation and even overshadowed it.

This is by no means the entirety of Stravinsky's work, as he went through a multitude of styles after the three ballets for which he is most remembered. His change in style throughout his career has been compared to that of Pablo Picasso. Among other works were the ballet "Agon", the ballet "Pulcinella", and the opera "The Rake's Progress".

Rumoured that he had an affair with French couturier Coco Chanel, although this is likely untrue.

This creator provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Art-Style Dissonance: Despite his reputation for dissonance most of his work is actually quite melodic.
  • Badass Boast: When Stravinsky played sections of "The Rite Of Spring" to ballet choreographer Sergei Diaghilev Diaghilev was shocked by the dissonance. So he asked Stravinsky: "How long does this go on?" To which the composer snapped back: "Until the very end!"
  • Classical Music: Between 1920 and 1950 Stravinsky composed a lot of neoclassical works, where he reinvented 18th century style baroque music, sometimes to the point of parody.
  • Deal with the Devil: Central plot in "L' Histoire du Soldat" ("The Soldiers' Tale")
  • Decon-Recon Switch: While "The Rite Of Spring" blew up musical conventions, he later became a cofounder of Neoclassicism, which essentially was a Reconstruction of pre-Romantic Classical Music.
  • Follow the Leader: Virtually every 20th century composer and beyond has been influenced by his music.
  • Homage: He wrote an "in memoriam" both for Dylan Thomas as well as John F. Kennedy.
  • Living Toys: "Petrouchka", about a puppet that comes to life.
  • Mood Motif: Used in "L' Histoire du Soldat" ("The Soldiers' Tale")
  • Neo Classical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: Zappa used some ragtime influences in his work "Rag-Time".
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis: Stravinsky is still mostly associated with the scandal of "The Rite Of Spring", more than any other composition he wrote during his life. Still the infamy helped his name to be recognized all around the world.
  • Refuge in Audacity: If you compare "The Rite of Spring" to all the classical music before it, it's incredibly daring and brutal. You understand why people were shocked by it, back in 1913.
  • Shout-Out: In his neoclassical works Stravinsky often provided little shout outs to composers from previous centuries.
  • Small Reference Pools: Stravinsky remains the 20th century's most famous composer.
  • Uncommon Time: Used this so much he nearly inverted it, and considered it noteworthy when he wrote a piece (Symphony in C) that had no meter changes at all. Generally considered the Trope Codifier for this tendency in modern Classical Music, and undoubtedly a rather large influence on many of the legions of Progressive Rock and Progressive Metal bands who use the trope as well.
  • What Could Have Been: David Attenborough tells a story in his autobiography about his attempt to create a highbrow station ident for BBC2. As he was already on good terms with both Pablo Picasso and Stravinsky, he figured it would be a real coup to have Picasso do the visuals and Stravinsky the music. Picasso was actually up for it, provided Stravinsky agreed too, but Stravinsky's Composer Existence Failure put the kibosh on it.

Igor Stravinsky in popular culture
  • Fantasia: The "Rite Of Spring" segment is a centre piece in the first film. Igor Stravinsky was brought in to oversee the production, but didn't like how his music was re-edited to match the "story" Disney thought up for it and the small fee he received. He hated what Disney did to his music and hated animation for the rest of life. Fantasia 2000 closes with another edited version of The Firebird.
  • Frank Zappa quoted from The Rite of Spring, The Firebird and The Soldier's Tale a few times on his albums.
  • The 2009 French film Coco Chanel et Igor Stravinsky is a Biopic about the rumored affair between him and fashion designer Coco Chanel.
  • My Uncle Oswald: Stravinsky is one of the celebrities of whom Uncle Oswald wants to collect the sperm from.