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Arnold Schoenberg

Synopsis
Igor Stravinsky was born on June 17, 1882, in Oranienbaum,
Russia. He rose to fame in the early 1900s for his compositions
for the Ballets Russes, including the controversial The Rite of
Spring. Stravinsky brought his family to Switzerland and then
France, continuing his output with such works
as Renard and Persephone. After moving to the United States in
1939, he completed his famed Symphony in C and became an
American citizen. Stravinsky died in New York City on April 6,
1971, with more than 100 works to his name.

Early Life
Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky was born in the resort town of
Oranienbaum, Russia, on June 17, 1882. He was raised in St.
Petersburg by his father, a bass singer named Fyodor, and his
mother, Anna, a talented pianist.

Not wanting Stravinsky to follow in their footsteps, his parents


persuaded him to study law after he graduated from secondary
school. However, after enrolling at the University of Saint
Petersburg, Stravinsky became friendly with a classmate
named Vladimir Rimsky-Korsakov, whose father, Nikolai, was a
celebrated composer. Stravinksy soon became Nikolai Rimsky-
Korsakov's pupil, as he was granted the freedom to pursue
his artistic career upon the death of his father in 1902.
Early Work

In 1906, Stravinsky married Catherine Nossenko, with whom he


would have four children. In 1909, the founder of the Ballets
Russes, Sergei Diaghilev, invited Stravinsky to orchestrate a
couple of Chopin works for his ballet Les Sylphides. That, in turn,
led to the commission of The Firebird; a collaboration with
choreographer Michel Fokine, the ballet turned Stravinsky into a
household name upon its premiere in Paris in June 1910. The
composer's fame was reinforced with the production
of Petrouchka in 1911 and especially with The Rite of Spring,
which incited a riot upon its 1913 premiere but was soon hailed
for its revolutionary score.
Departure to Switzerland

The outbreak of World War I forced Stravinsky to flee Russia with


his family and settle in Switzerland. He dealt with his
homesickness by using Russian folklore as inspiration for his
work, while other compositions from this time exhibited a jazz
influence. Two of his best known works from his Swiss period
are Renard, composed between 1915 and 1916, and Les Noces,
which he started in 1914 but didn't complete until 1923.

Life in France

In 1920 Stravinsky moved his family to France, where they lived


for the next two decades. During that time, his notable works
included a comic opera, Mavra (1922), an opera-oratorio Oedipus
Rex (1927) and the "white" ballet Apollon Musagète (1928). He
continued his prolific output into the 1930s, composing such
works as Symphony of Psalms, Persephone, Jeu de
Cartes and Concerto in E-flat.

Move to United States and Death


Following the deaths of his wife and a daughter from
tuberculosis, Stravinsky moved to the United States in 1939. He
delivered a series of lectures at Harvard University, and in 1940
he married artist and designer Vera de Bossett. That year,
Stravinsky also finished one of his most important
works, Symphony in C.
Stravinsky was nearly arrested for his rearrangement of the
national anthem during a performance in Boston in 1944, but
otherwise he found a welcome reception in his new country. He
became a U.S. citizen in 1945 after settling in Los Angeles, and
went on to enjoy more successes with such operas as The
Rake's Progress (1951) and Agon (1957).

After a period of decline in his health, Stravinsky died at his


Manhattan apartment on April 6, 1971. While not shocking, his
death saddened those who recalled his immense gifts and
influence in his field. Said New York Philharmonic musical
director Pierre Boulez: "Something radically new, even foreign to
Western tradition, had to be found for music to survive, and to
enter our contemporary era. The glory of Stravinsky was to have
belonged to this extremely gifted generation and to be one of the
most creative of them all.