Igor Stravinsky was born in Oranienbaum, Russia and lived from June 1882 to April 1971. His father was the leading bass singer at the Imperial Opera and his mother was a pianist. Although his parents wanted him to stray away from their path and study law, Stravinsky studied music at the University of St. Petersburg. His fame began in 1909 when Serge Diaghilev asked him to write a score for The Firebird for the Paris-based Ballet Russes. The next year he wrote the ballet, Petrushka. His next piece, The Rite of Spring, almost created a riot when first premiered, but a year later, when presented, it was considered to be a masterpiece. In 1914, with the outbreak of the First World War, Igor Stravinsky and his family moved to Switzerland where he wrote Neoclassical works. Some of his best works from this time in Switzerland are Fox and Wedding. He later moved to France in 1920 where he wrote the comic opera, Mavra. During the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, Stravinsky moved to Los Angles, California and he later became an American citizen.
Igor Stravinsky did not have one specific style of music he wrote throughout his career. Although he is best known for his revitalization of rhythm on European art music. His music reflected the currents times in the twentieth century. Post-Impressionism was seen in The Firebird, primitivism in The Rite of Spring, to controlled classicism, and serialism in his last pieces. His early pieces, The Firebird, Petrushka, and The Rite of Spring, reflect Russia, where he lived at the time and he wrote The Soldier’s Tale during the First World War.
Igor Stravinsky wrote his most famous piece, The Rite of Spring, in 1913. It is said to have revolutionized music by freeing Western music from traditional metric regularity. It was originally written as a ballet, but it is more often performed as a concert piece. The premiere of The Rite of Spring was on May 29, 1913 at the Parisian Theatre des Champs-Elysees. The audience was so shocked and outraged by the unballetic dancing and complex rhythms of the ballet that they almost started a riot before the ballet had even finished.
The size of orchestra used for The Rite of Spring is massive. Stravinsky used many brass and percussion instruments to create a barbaric tone, and an overall harsh and loud sound. His melody and harmony produces a static quality. However, the rhythm and meter that Stravinsky uses is what make the piece stand out the most and makes The Rite of Spring so unique and revolutionary.
The introduction of the piece, The Rite of Spring, has a disjunct, floating folk-song melody, a free shifting meter establishing a duple pulse, haunting mood, and very slow tempo. Next, during the Dance of the Youths and Maidens, Russian folk-song melodies alternate with nonmelodic sound blocks, there is a complex polyphony, and it sounds forceful with high energy and changing dynamics. The Game of Abduction changes to scurrying melodic figures and horn calls, a fast...