Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky
(1882 - 1971) was a Russian-born composer. He is the only classical composer present on TIME'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!"
- 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.
- Living Toys: "Petrouchka", about a puppet that comes to life.
- Mood Motif: Used in "L' Histoire du Soldat" ("The Soldiers' Tale")
- 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.
- 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.