92 Facts About Stravinsky


Stravinsky is widely considered one of the most important and influential composers of the 20th century and a pivotal figure in modernist music for his approach to asymmetrical rhythm.


Stravinsky met Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov in 1902 and studied under him until 1908.


Additionally, Stravinsky used sacred themes in works like Threni and The Flood.


Stravinsky explored many kinds of art and collaborated with many different artists throughout his career, including Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau, W H Auden, George Balanchine, and Andre Gide.


Stravinsky's students included Robert Strassburg in the 1940s and Robert Craft and Warren Zevon in the 1960s.


Stravinsky was a devout member of the Russian Orthodox Church for most of his life, believing that his musical talent was a gift from God.


Stravinsky was one of the most important composers of the 20th century.


Stravinsky's father, Fyodor Ignatievich Stravinsky, was an established bass opera singer in the Kiev Opera and the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg and his mother, Anna Kirillovna Stravinskaya, a native of Kiev, was one of four daughters of a high-ranking official in the Kiev Ministry of Estates.


The Stravinsky family was of Polish and Russian heritage, descended "from a long line of Polish grandees, senators and landowners".


The original family surname was Sulima-Strawinski; the name "Stravinsky" originated from the word "Strava", one of the variants of the Streva river in Lithuania.


On 10 August 1882, Stravinsky was baptised at Nikolsky Cathedral in Saint Petersburg.


Stravinsky took to music at an early age and began regular piano lessons at age nine, followed by tuition in music theory and composition.


In 1902, Stravinsky met Vladimir, a fellow student at the University of Saint Petersburg and the youngest son of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.


Stravinsky wished to meet him to discuss his musical aspirations.


Stravinsky spent the summer of 1902 with Rimsky-Korsakov and his family in Heidelberg, Germany.


Stravinsky completed his first composition during this time, the Symphony in E-flat, catalogued as Opus 1.


Stravinsky commissioned Stravinsky to write some orchestrations for the 1909 ballet season, which were finished by April of that year.


Diaghilev then asked the 28-year-old Stravinsky, who had provided satisfactory orchestrations for him for the previous season at short notice and agreed to compose a full score.


The Firebird premiered at the Opera de Paris on 25 June 1910 to widespread critical acclaim and Stravinsky became an overnight sensation.


Stravinsky's score contained many novel features for its time, including experiments in tonality, metre, rhythm, stress and dissonance.


Shortly after the premiere, Stravinsky contracted typhoid from eating bad oysters and he was confined to a Paris nursing home.


Stravinsky took up residence nearby, where he completed The Nightingale.


Stravinsky was ineligible for military service in the World War due to his history of typhoid.


Stravinsky managed a short visit to Ustilug to retrieve personal items just before borders were closed.


In December 1915, Stravinsky made his conducting debut at two concerts in aid of the Red Cross with The Firebird.


When Russia did not adhere to the Berne Convention and the aftermath of World War I left countries in ruin, royalties for performances of Stravinsky's pieces stopped coming.


Stravinsky, seeking financial assistance, approached the Swiss philanthropist Werner Reinhart, who agreed to sponsor him and largely underwrite the first performance of L'Histoire du soldat in September 1918.


In gratitude, Stravinsky dedicated the work to Reinhart and gave him the original manuscript.


In gratitude to his benefactor, Stravinsky dedicated his Three Pieces for Solo Clarinet to Reinhart, who was an amateur clarinettist.


Stravinsky travelled to paris to attend the premiere of Pulcinella by the Ballets Russes on 15 May 1920, returning to Switzerland afterwards.


In 1920, Stravinsky signed a contract with the French piano manufacturing company Pleyel.


Stravinsky helped collect Stravinsky's mechanical royalties for his works and provided him with a monthly income.


Stravinsky met Vera de Bosset in Paris in February 1921, while she was married to the painter and stage designer Serge Sudeikin, and they began an affair that led to de Bosset leaving her husband in the Spring of 1922.


Craft believed that the patron was the famed conductor Leopold Stokowski, whom Stravinsky had recently met, and theorised that the conductor wanted to win Stravinsky over to visit the US.


In September 1924, Stravinsky bought a new home in Nice.


Stravinsky thought of his future, and used the experience of conducting the premiere of his Octet at one of Serge Koussevitzky's concerts the year before to build on his career as a conductor.


Koussevitzky asked Stravinsky to compose a new piece for one of his upcoming concerts; Stravinsky agreed to a piano concerto.


The piece was a success, and Stravinsky secured himself the exclusive rights to perform the work for the next five years.


Stravinsky gave the money to Diaghilev to help finance the public performances.


The premiere at the Theatre Sarah-Bernhardt received a negative reaction, believed by painter Boris Grigoriev to be due to its tameness compared to The Firebird, which irked Stravinsky, who had started to become annoyed at the public's fixation on his early ballets.


Stravinsky himself spent five months in hospital at Sancellemoz, during which time his mother died.


Stravinsky arrived in New York City on 30 September 1939 and headed for Cambridge, Massachusetts, to fulfil his engagements at Harvard.


Stravinsky felt the warmer Californian climate would benefit his health.


Stravinsky had adapted to life in France, but moving to America at the age of 58 was a very different prospect.


Stravinsky was drawn to the growing cultural life of Los Angeles, especially during World War II, when writers, musicians, composers, and conductors settled in the area.


In 1940, Stravinsky completed his Symphony in C and conducted the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at its premiere later that year.


Orson Welles urged Stravinsky to write the score for Jane Eyre, but negotiations broke down; a piece used in one of the film's hunting scenes was used in Stravinsky's orchestral work Ode.


An offer to score The Song of Bernadette fell through; Stravinsky considered the terms were too much in the producer's favour.


In late 1945, Stravinsky received a commission from Europe, his first since Persephone, in the form of a string piece for the 20th anniversary for Paul Sacher's Basle Chamber Orchestra.


In January 1946, Stravinsky conducted the premiere of his Symphony in Three Movements at Carnegie Hall in New York City.


In 1947, Stravinsky was inspired to write his English-language opera The Rake's Progress by a visit to a Chicago exhibition of the same-titled series of paintings by the eighteenth-century British artist William Hogarth, which tells the story of a fashionable wastrel descending into ruin.


In 1953, Stravinsky agreed to compose a new opera with a libretto by Dylan Thomas, which detailed the recreation of the world after one man and one woman remained on Earth after a nuclear disaster.


Stravinsky completed In Memoriam Dylan Thomas, a piece for tenor, string quartet, and four trombones, in 1954.


In January 1962, during his tour's stop in Washington, DC, Stravinsky attended a dinner at the White House with President John F Kennedy in honour of his eightieth birthday, where he received a special medal for "the recognition his music has achieved throughout the world".


In September 1962, Stravinsky returned to Russia for the first time since 1914, accepting an invitation from the Union of Soviet Composers to conduct six performances in Moscow and Leningrad.


Stravinsky did not return to his Hollywood home until December 1962 in what was almost eight months of continual travelling.


In 1965, Stravinsky agreed to have David Oppenheim produce a documentary film about himself for the CBS network.


The documentary includes Stravinsky's visit to Les Tilleuls, the house in Clarens where he wrote the majority of The Rite of Spring.


The crew asked Soviet authorities for permission to film Stravinsky returning to his hometown of Ustilug, but the request was denied.


In 1966, Stravinsky completed his last major work, the Requiem Canticles.


In May 1968, Stravinsky completed the piano arrangement of two songs by Hugo Wolf for a small orchestra.


In October 1969, after close to three decades in California and Stravinsky being denied to travel overseas by his doctors due to ill health, Stravinsky and de Bosset secured a two-year lease for a luxury three bedroom apartment in Essex House in New York City.


On 18 March 1971, Stravinsky was taken to Lenox Hill Hospital with pulmonary edema where he stayed for ten days.


The Firebird used a harmonic structure that Stravinsky called "leit-harmony", a portmanteau of leitmotif and harmony used by Rimsky-Korsakov in his opera The Golden Cockerel.


Stravinsky later wrote how he composed The Firebird in a state of "revolt against Rimsky", and that he "tried to surpass him with ponticello, col legno, flautando, glissando, and fluttertongue effects".


Stravinsky used a folk tune from Rimsky-Korsakov's opera The Snow Maiden, showing his continued influence on the music of Stravinsky.


Stravinsky had begun to experiment with polytonality in The Firebird and Petrushka, but for The Rite of Spring, he "pushed [it] to its logical conclusion," as White describes it.


Stravinsky had begun work on his first opera The Nightingale in 1908, pausing after he was commissioned to write The Firebird and returning to the work after The Rite of Spring.


Stravinsky was influenced by many artists for this work; the opera itself is based on the same-titled story by Hans Christian Andersen.


Stravinsky used folk poetry; his next opera, Les noces, was based on texts from a collection of Russian folk poetry by Pyotr Kireevsky.


In Naples, Italy, Stravinsky saw a commedia dell'arte featuring the "great drunken lout" of a character Pulcinella, who would later become the subject of his ballet Pulcinella.


Stravinsky's Octet uses the sonata form, modernising it by disregarding the standard ordering of themes and traditional tonal relationships for different sections.


Stravinsky first experimented with non-twelve-tone serial techniques in vocal and chamber works such as the Cantata, the Septet and Three Songs from Shakespeare.


Stravinsky returned to sacred themes in works such as Canticum Sacrum, Threni, A Sermon, a Narrative and a Prayer, and The Flood.


Stravinsky used a number of concepts from earlier works in his serial pieces; for example, the voice of God being two bass voices in homophony seen in The Flood was previously used in Les noces.


Stravinsky was heavily influenced by Schoenberg, not only in his use of the twelve-tone technique, but in the distinctly "Schoenbergian" instrumentation of the Septet and the "Stravinskian interpretation of Schoenberg's Klangfarbenmelodie" found in Stravinsky's Variations.


Stravinsky displayed a taste in literature that was wide and reflected his constant desire for new discoveries.


Stravinsky later moved on to contemporary France and eventually English literature, including Auden, T S Eliot, and medieval Latin verse.


Stravinsky had an inexhaustible desire to explore and learn about art, which manifested itself in several of his Paris collaborations.


Stravinsky was a devout member of the Russian Orthodox Church during most of his life and believed that his musical talent was a gift from God, stating in an interview with Craft that,.


Stravinsky rejoined the Russian Orthodox Church and afterwards remained a committed Christian.


Craft noted that Stravinsky prayed daily, before and after composing, and prayed when facing difficulty.


Stravinsky was reputed to have been a philanderer and was rumoured to have had affairs with high-profile partners, such as Coco Chanel.


Stravinsky was not only recognised for his composing, he achieved fame as a pianist and as a conductor.


Stravinsky was noted for his distinctive use of rhythm, especially in The Rite of Spring.


Stravinsky's creation of unique and idiosyncratic ensembles arising from the specific musical nature of individual works is a basic element of his style.


Stravinsky received the Royal Philharmonic Society's gold medal in 1954, the Leonie Sonning Music Prize in 1959, and the Wihuri Sibelius Prize in 1963.


On 25 July 1966, Stravinsky was awarded the Portuguese Military Order of Saint James of the Sword.


Stravinsky received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960 and was posthumously inducted into the National Museum of Dance and Hall of Fame in 2004.


Stravinsky found recordings a practical and useful tool in preserving his thoughts on the interpretation of his music.


Stravinsky published a number of books throughout his career, almost always with the aid of a collaborator.


In 1959, several interviews between the composer and Craft were published as Conversations with Igor Stravinsky, which was followed by a further five volumes over the following decade.