Happy birthday Igor Stravinsky!

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Igor Stravinksy (June 17, 1882 – April 6, 1971) was a Russian composer, pianist, and conductor who is remembered as one of the most influential composers of the twentieth century. During his lifetime, Stravinsky worked extensively with Sergei Diaghilev, founder of the Ballets Russes, and composed more than 100 original works.

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Igor Stravinsky was born in Oranienbaum, Russia to Fyodor and Anna Stravinsky, both of whom were musicians. His parents urged him to pursue a degree in law in secondary school, but Stravinsky changed paths and decided to become a composer after his father died in 1902. Within a few years, Stravinsky was invited by Sergei Diaghilev to orchestrate compositions by Chopin, for the ballet Les Sylphides. It was quite successful and led to Stravinsky's collaboration with Michel Fokine in the ballet Firebird, which made Stravinsky famous.


In 1911, Stravinsky composed Petrouchka, and in 1913, he premiered the Rite of Spring in Paris, which is still known as one of his most popular works.


At the start of World War II, Stravinsky moved his family from Russia to Switzerland. Stravinsky was not able to return to Russia until October 1962. Struck with homesickness, Stravinsky used Russian folklore to inspire new compositions. Between 1915 and 1916 he composed Fox and The Wedding. Stravinsky moved to France in 1920, where his notable works include a comic opera, Marva (1942), Oedipus Rex (1927), and Apollo (1928). Subsequent works include The Symphony of Psalms, Persephone, A Game of Cards, The Violin Concerto, Duo Concertante for Violin and Piano, Concerto for Two Pianos and Concerto for Chamber Orchestra.



Stravinsky's last years in France were marked by sadness, as he lost both his wife and his eldest daughter Ludmila to tuberculosis. Stravinsky himself spent five months in the hospital, during which time his mother died. At the start of WWII, Stravinsky left Europe for the United States and settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His longtime mistress, Vera de Bosset, followed soon after and they were married in 1940.

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The couple settled eventually in West Hollywood. Fellow musicians and composers, including Thomas Mann, George Balanchine, and Arthur Rubinstein, were also nearby. Writers like Aldous Huxley Dylan Thomas, and Christopher Isherwood visited him in Beverly Hills.

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Stravinsky conducted orchestras throughout the country, including performances with the LA Philharmonic and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Legend has it that on January 15, 1944, the composer was arrested and fined $100 in Boston for an unusual arrangement of "The Star Spangled Banner". However, this was later proven to be a myth. The composer began dabbling in Hollywood contracts, composing for many movie soundtracks. In 1962, he finally returned to Leningrad for a series of concerts, and visited Moscow and met several important Russian composers.

Later, Stravinsky moved to the Essex House in Manhattan, where he lived until his death in 1971. He was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and a posthumous Grammy Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Additional Info

  • Birthday Date: Tuesday, 17 June 2014
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