April 11

Remembering Stravinsky
Forty-Seven Years After His Death

April 6th was the 47th anniversary of the death of the composer Igor Stravinsky, who first achieved international recognition for his three ballets commissioned by impresario Serge Diaghilev for the Ballets Russes: The Firebird (1910), Petrushka (1911), and The Rite of Spring (1913).

The illustration below appeared in the Harvard Musical Review less than one year after the first performance of The Rite of Spring.

Harvard Musical Review, Vol. 2 No. 7 (April 1914): 2.

The French journal Musica published these comments after the premiere of The Firebird.

The new work was, ultimately, the Firebird; which was the most important artistic event of this Ballet Russe season. It is an admirable spectacle … this tale danced in one act has  exceptional musical value. For that very reason, and especially for that reason, it deserves special mention.

A true dance music that remains nevertheless real music! … that is well worth being especially praised.

It reveals a young Russian composer of the greatest talent: Mr. Igor Stravinsky.

Musica, Vol. 9 No. 95 (1 August 1910): 119.

 

Nearly three years later, news of the raucous premiere of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring was reported widely in the musical press. Many reports remarked on the composer’s dissonant score, including the following comments, published in Musical America.

Musical America, Vol. 18 No. 12 (26 July 1913): 10.

 

 This photo of an intense young Stravinsky in his studio in Petrograd, appeared three years later.

Musical America, Vol. 23 No. 9 (1 January 1916): 17.

In the same year, 1916, the following two short reviews of Stravinsky’s Petrushka demonstrate the reception of this work in the United States.

Musical America, Vol. 23 No. 13 (29 January 1916): 4.

 

By 1918, Stravinsky had already composed a seminal work in what is referred to as his “Neoclassical Period,” utilizing a small chamber ensemble.  Entitled The Soldier’s Tale (1918), it was described in the following report as being unlike anything Stravinsky had previously composed.

Musical America, Vol. 29 No. 5 (30 November 1918): 27.

 

One of the artists with whom Stravinsky maintained a long term relationship was Pablo Picasso, who on several occasions, produced sketches of the composer.

Stravinsky, sketched by Pablo Picasso
Pro-Musica Quarterly, Vol.3 No. 1 (March 1924): 4.

Russian avant-garde painter Michel Larionov also sketched Stravinsky along with a few of his Ballets Russes colleagues, including the impresario Serge Diaghilev, French writer, playwright, artist and film maker Jean Cocteau, and French composer Erik Satie.

Modern Music, Vol. 3 No. 1 (November-December 1925): [2].

Nine years after Larionov’s sketch was published in Modern Music, the journal published yet another sketch of the composer by Picasso, in 1934.

Modern Music, Vol. 12 No. 1 (November-December 1934): [2].

 

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Posted April 11, 2018 by John Ehrenburg in category "Curios and Chronicles", "Illustration(s) of the Week