One comment on “This Weeks Reading: Igor Stravinsky

  1. Not a bad start for reading about Stravinsky. I did not know the part about him being rediculed for arranging the natinoal anthem! I would say today Stravinsky is regarded as a master, but he kind of resided in his own bubble during his lifetime. If you look at Schoenburg’s serialist period, this was far more influential on the push forward in composition. Interestingly enough, Stravinsky is really most famous (in terms of a historical influence) as a neo-classical composer. Indeed, he was one of the composers who started the genre. He later wrote serial music, though not until Schoenburg was deceased. You pointed out they did not have a close relationship. I think it is fair to say that were rivals (both with inflated egos).

    As for neo-classical compositions, I would recommend these two for starters: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4KYuhfag5I and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fDZYdTQOco8. The first is his orchestra suite, Pucinella based on a work by the Itialian 18th century composer Pergolesi. The second is a wind octet, entirely composed by Stravinsky. Both works are representitive of the neo-classical style, as the first directly quotes and mostly is just a re-orchestration, and the octet is a modified sonata-form. I think it is common for musicians today to take forms such as sonata as a given, but in Stravinsky’s time, they were viewed as a bit dated, so to bring back the old form was considered revolutionary.

    I agree that Stravinsky was a great artist, but it is also interesting to hear his point of view on music itself. I would wager that most musicians find their music expressive of emotion, and thus enjoyable. Stravinsky found this not to be the case at all: “Music, by its very nature, is essentially powerless to express anything at all, whether a feeling, an attitude of mind, a psychological mood, a phenomenon of nature, etc…. Expression has never been an inherent property of music. That is by no means the purpose of its existence.”

    Just some thoughts to add to the study of Stravinsky. Look at Hindemith too! Exciting stuff happening early in the 20th c!

    -Matt K

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