The Controversial music of Igor Stravinsky

Stravinsky is widely acknowledged as one of the most important and influential composers of 20th century music. He was a quintessentially cosmopolitan Russian who was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people of the century.

Stravinsky Stravinsky's compositional career was notable for its stylistic diversity. He first achieved international fame with three ballets commissioned by the impresario Sergei Diaghilev and performed by Diaghilev's Ballets Russes: The Firebird, Petrushka and The Rite of Spring. The Rite, whose premiere provoked a riot, transformed the way in which subsequent composers thought about rhythmic structure, and was largely responsible for Stravinsky's enduring reputation as a musical revolutionary, pushing the boundaries of musical design.

Stravinsky's first neo-classical works were the ballet Pulcinella of 1920, and the stripped-down and delicately scored Octet for Wind Instruments of 1923. Stravinsky may have been preceded in his use of neoclassical devices by composers such as Sergei Prokofiev and Erik Satie. By the late 1920s and 1930s, the use by composers of neoclassicism had become widespread.  Stravinsky began using serial compositional techniques, including dodecaphony, the twelve-tone technique originally devised by Arnold Schoenberg, in the early 1950s.

We have a wide range of recordings of Stravainsky's works including one conducted by the composer himself and several conducted by Charles Dutoit, who is widely considered the foremost interpretor of the Russian composer's work.  You can find our complete catalogue here


  1. Stravinsky’s great!

    Louis Latourre : “Composed by Stravinsky in 1927-1928 « Apollon Musagète » (or « Apollo ») is a ballet for string orchestra roughly contemporary with the poem « Fragments of Narcissus » by Paul Valery (*). The formal rigor is common to musician and to poet. Both are able to innovate within the constraints of an apparently classical form. In the work of Stravinsky or that of Valéry, this classic or baroque appearance obvious (one thinks of Bach Corelli or Racine) is in reality a very personal tour de force. If we look at the score or the text of the poem, we can no longer be blind to the constant richness of the invention.
    Having already played « Narcisse » on the stage :), I want only to detail one short passage from the first scene (Birth of Apollo) entitled « Appearance of two goddesses ». Stravinsky sets the melodic line with great care, the selected and scholarly dissonances (more sensitive at the piano) warp discreetly the polyphony. Nothing is installed, the surprise is that of an instability where the melody moves constantly – and gently – away from too easy paths.

    Consulted by the composer, in particular about the redaction of his Harvard lectures in 1939, entitled « Poétique musicale » and written in French, Paul Valéry had been surprised to find so many similarities between this Stravinsky’s Poétique and his own teaching of poetry at the Collège de France.

    A few years earlier, he had already had occasion to admire the musician. About his oratorio « Perséphone », he had written to Stravinsky: « It seems that what I’m looking in my art, you join it with your own : Attain purity by the will. »”

    Louis Latourre
    (*) See:

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