Igor Stravinsky

Igor Stravinsky

It is a dark November evening in 1959.In a Scottish boarding school on the edge of the Highland line a schoolboy is reading, gripped by an exotic and brutal tale." Something of Value" by Robert Ruark, set in Kenya during the Mau Mau insurgency. As he reads, someone slips "The Rite of Spring" on to the communal record player...

Within a few moments there is an almost alchemical reaction in his imagination between the story the boy is reading, and the violent, primitive-sounding music he is hearing, a conjunction that will trigger a life-long obsession. Stravinsky himself would have regarded this reading of the event with contempt..

He described the Disney " Fantasia" animation of that music as " an unresisting imbecility ".but nonetheless that schoolboy had found his own un-intellectual way into the glories of classical music by just such an imbecility. I went on to discover and enjoy " The Firebird", " Petroushka",and "The Song of the Nightingale ", even the Violin Concerto, but by the time I found The Symphony for Wind Instruments, The Symphony in C,and the Symphony in Three Movements, I felt old Igor had become a little too dusty and schoolmasterly for me. My loss, no doubt, but bless him for the Rite that still, with all its Laocoonic gear-changes, pumps up the goose bumps.

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