Epoch: Twentieth century
As a legendary composer of modern classical music, with totally original and exciting music in many forms, Igor Stravinsky composed in the primitivist, neo-classical and serialist styles, but he is best known for two works from his earlier, Russian period: ballet The Rite of Spring and The Firebird suite. For some, these daring and innovative ballets practically reinvented the genre. Stravinsky also wrote in a broad spectrum of ensemble combinations and classical forms. His oeuvre included everything from symphonies to piano miniatures.
During his lifetime, Stravinsky used many musical styles—a coloristic, Russian-influenced style, primitivism, jazz, neoclassicism, bitonality, atonality, and serialism. To continue in one path, in his words, was “to go backward.” Stravinsky's works both reflected and influenced the most important trends of 20th century music. Their enduring significance stems from all the technical devices, originality, power, and rationality he brought to them.
Stravinsky also achieved fame as a pianist and conductor, often at the premieres of his own works. He was also a writer. With the help of Alexis Roland-Manuel, Stravinsky composed a theoretical work entitled Poetics of Music. In it, he famously claimed that music was incapable of "expressing anything but itself".
A quintessentially cosmopolitan Russian and restless innovator, Stravinsky was one of the most authoritative composers and artists of 20th century music, influencing three generations of composers and inspired many painters, writers, and choreographers, both in the West and in his native land. He was named by Time magazine as one of the most influential people of the century. Cultural giants like Picasso and T. S. Eliot were his friends; President John F. Kennedy honored him at a White House dinner in his eightieth year.
Quotes by self:
Stravinsky believed that tradition is “a living force that animates and informs the present … It appears as an heirloom, a heritage that one receives on condition of making it bear fruit before passing it on to one’s descendents.”
Quotes by peers:
One member of the audience as The Rite
of Spring was being performed in