Stravinsky Fest: American Finale
by Seth Colter Walls | May 31, 2013
With the 100th anniversary of Igor Stravinsky's riot-starting 1913 ballet The Rite of Spring now upon us, there's no better time to do a deep dive into the composer's glorious catalog. And so, every day this week we're offering a new playlist highlighting a different aspect of his enduring genius. Enjoy.
Earlier in our Stravinsky series, we listened as he cultivated an interest in Russian folk tunes (in his first ballets), then moved on to appropriate some jazzy riffs, as well as a few neoclassical elements (in his symphonies and most famous chamber works). In the postwar era, after taking refuge in America, Stravinsky finally tried his hand at something he'd long resisted: the atonal (or "serialist") methods of Arnold Schoenberg.
The angsty flavors of serial composition technique fit some of Stravinsky's late projects quite well: The "Elegy for JFK" has a mysterious tension that is served, in part, by the compositional methods. (Same goes for "Aldous Huxley in Memoriam.") Elsewhere, though, the rhythmically alert Stravinsky remained in evidence, as with late ballets like "Agon." The "Septet" and the "Movements for Piano and Orchestra" offer plenty of inventive writing, too. Hear all these pieces and more in our appended playlist. (And, if you've followed our whole series, congrats! You may now go spread the gospel of Stravinsky!)