In a world where eclecticism is a supreme virtue, Russian-born, cosmopolitan composer Igor Stravinksy stands as high priest.
He was a primitivist, neoclassicist, even a reluctant atonalist. But more than anything, he was an iconoclast, breaking music’s rules early on with “The Rite of Spring” (1913), which so startled its first audience that it provoked a riot. Works like “The Firebird” and “Petrushka” cemented his reputation as a uniquely progressive artist, but “The Rite of Spring” was music never heard in the concert hall, and his audaciously innovative works continued to confound admirers and detractors alike throughout his long life.
The breadth of his impact can be gauged by the esteem in which modernist guardians like Pierre Boulez and Esa-Pekka Salonen hold a man whose music was integral to Walt Disney’s “Fantasia.” In fact, his name is synonymous with modernism, and even to this day, his best music sounds as adventurous, complex and challenging as when it was composed almost a century ago.