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Igor Stravinsky

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An important Russian composer of totally original and exciting music in many forms. Stravinsky's ballet The Rite of Spring (1913), a work of exotic and primal character, marked a shift in modern Western music. In early pieces like Fireworks (1908) and the marvelous King of the Stars for chorus and orchestra (1911), Stravinsky exhibits a love of orchestral color that seems like a combination of Debussy, Scriabin and Wagner. The wood-flute song and plainchant intervals form one layer of his music. Other layers are the added harmonic dissonances, either in a rhythmic pattern (like the famous sacrificial dance in The Rite of Spring) or in sparkling arpeggios of violin harmonics and woodwinds. Stravinsky wedded the primitive, ancient, and neo-classical to the scale of the present. There seems to be a progression from Petrouchka and The Firebird for the Ballets-Russes, to the neo-jazz Ebony Concerto, to the purity of religious feeling shown in the Symphony of Psalms and Agon, which begins to use the 12-tone technique in a limited way -- but maybe it's more an unfolding of a personality that was there from the start. ~ Blue Gene Tyranny

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