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What Period Of Music History Was Stravinsky In What Period Of Music History Was Stravinsky In

Music History

What Period Of Music History Was Stravinsky In

Written by: Michaeline Chauvin

Discover the influential period of music history that Stravinsky belongs to and explore his contributions to the world of music.

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Music history is a fascinating subject that takes us on a journey through the evolution of musical styles, genres, and the remarkable composers who have left an indelible mark on the world. One such composer whose influence is widely recognized is Igor Stravinsky. Born in 1882 in Oranienbaum, Russia, Stravinsky is hailed as one of the most influential composers of the 20th century.

Stravinsky’s career spanned multiple periods of music history, and his innovative and boundary-pushing compositions have had a profound impact on the development of classical music. From his early works in Russia to his groundbreaking collaborations with the Ballets Russes and his neoclassical period, Stravinsky’s musical journey is a testament to his genius and artistic evolution.

In this article, we will explore the different periods of Stravinsky’s music history, shedding light on his early life, education, career in Russia, and his groundbreaking collaborations with the Ballets Russes. We will also delve into his neoclassical period and his lasting legacy in the world of music.

So, join us as we embark on a journey through the life and music of Igor Stravinsky, and discover the extraordinary contributions he made to the rich tapestry of music history.


Early Life and Education

Igor Stravinsky was born on June 17, 1882, in Oranienbaum, Russia. Coming from a musical family, he was exposed to music from a young age. His father, Fyodor Stravinsky, was a bass singer at the Imperial Opera, and his mother, Anna Stravinsky, a talented pianist. This musical environment nurtured his interest in music and paved the way for his incredible career.

Stravinsky began his formal music education at the age of nine when he started piano lessons with renowned teachers. He showed remarkable talent and was admitted to the St. Petersburg Conservatory when he was just 17 years old. At the conservatory, Stravinsky studied composition with renowned Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.

Under Rimsky-Korsakov’s guidance, Stravinsky honed his compositional skills and immersed himself in the rich musical traditions of Russia. He drew inspiration from the works of Russian composers such as Mussorgsky and Tchaikovsky, incorporating elements of Russian folk music and nationalistic themes into his compositions.

During his time at the conservatory, Stravinsky gained recognition for his compositions and won the prestigious Rubinstein Prize for his Symphony in E-flat major. This early success laid the foundation for his future achievements and set him on a path towards greatness.

Despite his formal music education, Stravinsky was a voracious learner and absorbed influences from various musical styles and genres. He studied the works of composers outside the Russian tradition, such as Wagner and Debussy, and admired their innovative approaches to music.

While his education provided him with a solid musical foundation, it was Stravinsky’s innate creativity and willingness to explore new musical territories that truly set him apart. He was constantly pushing the boundaries of what was considered acceptable in classical music, paving the way for new musical movements and challenging the status quo.

Stravinsky’s early life and education laid the groundwork for his groundbreaking career, providing him with the skills, knowledge, and inspiration to become one of the most influential composers in music history.


Career in Russia

After completing his education at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, Igor Stravinsky embarked on his career as a composer in Russia. During this period, he started to gain recognition, both for his compositions as well as his conducting abilities.

Stravinsky’s early compositions showcased his unique style, blending elements of Russian nationalism with innovative techniques. One of his notable works from this time is his orchestral suite “Fireworks,” which caught the attention of the famous ballet impresario Sergei Diaghilev.

In 1910, Stravinsky began his fruitful partnership with Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes, a ballet company that would greatly influence his career. The Ballets Russes provided Stravinsky with the opportunity to compose music for ballet productions, allowing him to experiment and push the boundaries of traditional classical music further.

One of the most significant collaborations between Stravinsky and the Ballets Russes was the ballet “The Firebird,” which premiered in 1910. This masterpiece showcased Stravinsky’s ability to create vivid and evocative music that perfectly complemented the narrative and choreography of the ballet.

Following the success of “The Firebird,” Stravinsky went on to compose more ballet scores for the Ballets Russes, including “Petrushka” and “The Rite of Spring.” These works marked a turning point not only in Stravinsky’s career but also in the history of music itself.

“The Rite of Spring,” with its revolutionary rhythms and dissonances, shocked audiences at its premiere in 1913. The avant-garde nature of the composition sparked a riot in the theater, but it also catapulted Stravinsky to international fame. The piece remains a landmark in music history, immortalizing Stravinsky as a daring and innovative composer.

During his career in Russia, Stravinsky continued to explore new musical avenues and experiment with different styles. His compositions reflected his versatility, ranging from orchestral works to chamber music, piano pieces, and vocal works.

Stravinsky’s time in Russia was a period of intense creativity and growth, where he solidified his reputation as a groundbreaking composer. His collaborations with the Ballets Russes and his daring musical innovations established him as a leading figure in the world of music, paving the way for his future endeavors.


The Ballets Russes and “The Rite of Spring”

One of the most significant chapters in Igor Stravinsky’s music history is his collaboration with the Ballets Russes, a renowned ballet company founded by Sergei Diaghilev. This partnership would revolutionize not only ballet but also the course of music history.

In 1910, Diaghilev commissioned Stravinsky to compose the music for the ballet “The Firebird,” marking the beginning of their creative alliance. This collaboration showcased Stravinsky’s ability to create captivating and expressive music that seamlessly enhanced the storytelling of the ballet.

However, it was their next collaboration that would have a seismic impact on the world of music – “The Rite of Spring.” Premiered in 1913, “The Rite of Spring” was a ballet that depicted an ancient pagan ritual. Stravinsky’s score for the ballet shocked and challenged the audience with its complex rhythms, unconventional harmonies, and dissonant chords.

The premiere of “The Rite of Spring” at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris is infamous for the intense reaction it provoked. The avant-garde nature of the music, coupled with Vaslav Nijinsky’s unconventional choreography, incited a riot in the audience. Despite the controversy, the work’s impact could not be denied. Its revolutionary use of musical language and rhythmic innovations marked a dramatic departure from traditional classical music.

“The Rite of Spring” shattered conventions and pushed the boundaries of what was considered acceptable in music at the time. Its complex polyrhythms, radical tonalities, and primitive yet powerful melodies challenged traditional notions of harmony and structure.

The impact of “The Rite of Spring” extended far beyond its initial reception. This monumental work propelled Stravinsky to the forefront of the musical avant-garde and solidified his reputation as a revolutionary composer. It marked a turning point in music history, influencing generations of composers who sought to break free from traditional norms and create music that was daring and innovative.

Stravinsky’s collaboration with the Ballets Russes and the groundbreaking nature of “The Rite of Spring” opened up new possibilities in music composition, paving the way for the development of musical modernism and shaping the course of 20th-century music.


Neoclassical Period

After the revolutionary success of “The Rite of Spring,” Igor Stravinsky entered a new phase in his music history known as the Neoclassical period. This period, which emerged in the 1920s, marked a shift in Stravinsky’s compositional style, incorporating elements of classical forms and structures.

During the Neoclassical period, Stravinsky drew inspiration from the music of earlier composers, particularly those of the Baroque and Classical eras. He began to experiment with more refined and balanced compositions, embracing clear melodic lines and counterpoint.

An exemplary work from this period is “Pulcinella,” a ballet that premiered in 1920. Stravinsky based the score on music by Italian composer Giovanni Battista Pergolesi. However, he reimagined and reinterpreted the music in his unique style, infusing it with neoclassical elements and modern harmonies. “Pulcinella” was a departure from his previous works, demonstrating his ability to blend the old with the new.

Stravinsky’s neoclassical compositions featured precise craftsmanship, transparent textures, and a detachment from the emotional intensity and radical experimentation seen in his earlier works. He explored various classical forms, such as the concerto grosso, sonata, and suite, while infusing them with his own distinct voice.

Another defining work of this period is “Symphony of Psalms,” composed in 1930. Stravinsky’s mastery of counterpoint and choral writing is evident in this piece, as he combines the psalms with elements of Russian liturgical music and neoclassical aesthetics.

The Neoclassical period was a departure from the bold and experimental nature of Stravinsky’s earlier compositions. It showcased his ability to adapt and embrace different musical styles and demonstrated his versatility as a composer.

Stravinsky’s neoclassical works not only paid homage to the past but also influenced future composers. His emphasis on clarity and craftsmanship provided a foundation for the development of the neoclassical movement in the 20th century. His compositions during this period continue to be celebrated for their timeless beauty and innovative approach to blending tradition with modernity.


Collaboration with Diaghilev and Ballets Russes

One of the most significant partnerships in music history was that between Igor Stravinsky and Sergei Diaghilev, the founder of the Ballets Russes. This collaboration spanned several iconic ballet productions and marked a turning point in both their careers.

In 1910, Diaghilev commissioned Stravinsky to compose the music for the ballet “The Firebird,” catapulting Stravinsky into the spotlight of the Parisian art scene. The success of this ballet led to further collaborations between the two visionary artists.

Another pivotal moment came with the creation of “Petrushka” in 1911. The ballet, with its vivid characters and energetic music, became an instant sensation. Stravinsky’s score perfectly captured the vibrant atmosphere of the fairground setting, and Nijinsky’s choreography brought the story to life.

However, it was the premiere of “The Rite of Spring” in 1913 that solidified Stravinsky’s reputation as a groundbreaking composer and established the Ballets Russes as a leading artistic force. The collaboration between Stravinsky and Diaghilev pushed the boundaries of music and dance, creating a sensation that shocked and thrilled audiences.

The Ballets Russes provided Stravinsky with a platform to experiment with new musical techniques and concepts. Diaghilev’s avant-garde vision matched Stravinsky’s desire to challenge traditional artistic norms. The collaboration allowed Stravinsky to explore complex rhythms, unconventional harmonies, and innovative orchestration that would redefine the possibilities of music composition.

Diaghilev’s relentless pursuit of artistic excellence and his ability to assemble a talented team of dancers, choreographers, set designers, and musicians provided the ideal environment for Stravinsky to fully realize his creative vision.

Together, Stravinsky and Diaghilev created a series of groundbreaking ballets that pushed artistic boundaries, leaving a lasting impact on the world of music and dance. Their collaborations blurred the lines between music, choreography, and visual elements, revolutionizing the art form.

Unfortunately, the collaboration between Stravinsky and Diaghilev came to an end with the latter’s death in 1929. Despite this, the legacy of their partnership lives on, inspiring future generations of artists to embrace innovation and challenge the norms.

The collaboration between Stravinsky and Diaghilev and their work with the Ballets Russes represents a pivotal period in music history, where artistic boundaries were shattered and a new era of creativity and experimentation emerged.


Later Years and Legacy

In the later years of his career, Igor Stravinsky continued to push the boundaries of music and explore new artistic avenues. He embarked on a journey of innovation and experimentation, leaving an indelible mark on the world of classical music.

Following his collaborations with the Ballets Russes, Stravinsky ventured into composing for other mediums, including opera and concert music. Notable works from this period include “The Rake’s Progress,” an opera in collaboration with librettist W.H. Auden, and “Symphony in Three Movements,” a powerful symphonic work that fuses elements of Stravinsky’s earlier styles with his own unique voice.

Stravinsky’s later compositions showcased his ability to adapt and evolve as an artist. He drew inspiration from a diverse range of sources, including folk music, jazz, and even serialism. His music became more dissonant, complex, and rhythmic, reflecting the shifting artistic landscape of the 20th century.

As an influential figure in music, Stravinsky’s legacy extends far beyond his compositions. His willingness to challenge tradition and embrace innovation paved the way for future composers to explore new possibilities. He inspired generations of musicians with his ability to bend and break the rules while maintaining a sense of artistic integrity.

Stravinsky’s impact on music is immeasurable. He transformed the course of music history and left an undeniable imprint on numerous genres and styles. His compositions continue to be performed and celebrated worldwide, captivating audiences with their vitality, complexity, and emotional depth.

Moreover, Stravinsky’s explorations in rhythm, harmony, and form have influenced not only classical music but also popular music and film scores. His distinctive musical language and compositional techniques have been embraced and emulated by countless composers and musicians across genres.

Stravinsky’s legacy is not only defined by his creative output but also by his role as an influential teacher and conductor. His teachings at the Stravinsky Foundation in Los Angeles and his numerous conducting engagements allowed him to share his knowledge and passion for music with future generations.

Igor Stravinsky left an unparalleled legacy, forever marking his place in music history. His willingness to break boundaries and explore new artistic territories continues to inspire and shape the artistic landscape of today and the future.



Igor Stravinsky stands as a towering figure in music history, whose innovative compositions and fearless exploration of new artistic possibilities forever transformed the landscape of classical music. From his early works in Russia to his groundbreaking collaborations with the Ballets Russes and his neoclassical period, Stravinsky’s music journey reflects his unwavering commitment to artistic integrity and his relentless pursuit of pushing creative boundaries.

Stravinsky’s early life and education provided a solid foundation for his remarkable career. His collaboration with Sergei Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes propelled him to international fame, challenging traditional notions of music and dance with seminal works like “The Rite of Spring” that continue to captivate audiences to this day.

Transitioning into the neoclassical period, Stravinsky embraced a more refined style, drawing inspiration from classical forms while infusing them with his unique voice. The collaborations with Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes showcased his ability to blend the old with the new, creating a lasting impact on the development of music composition and performance.

In his later years, Stravinsky’s music became more complex and experimental, showcasing his unyielding drive for innovation. His contributions to opera and concert music, as well as his influence on future generations of musicians, solidified his legacy as one of the most influential composers of the 20th century.

Stravinsky’s impact stretches far beyond the realm of classical music. His revolutionary approach to rhythm, harmony, and form influenced numerous genres and continues to inspire composers of all backgrounds. His willingness to challenge the status quo and embrace new artistic possibilities leaves a lasting legacy that serves as a constant source of inspiration for future generations of musicians, composers, and music enthusiasts.

In conclusion, Igor Stravinsky’s music history is a testament to the power of innovation, experimentation, and artistic expression. His groundbreaking compositions continue to captivate audiences, and his creative spirit resonates with musicians and artists around the world. Stravinsky’s lasting influence on music will forever be felt, ensuring his rightful place as a legendary figure in the annals of music history.

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