Igor Stravinsky—20th Century Role Model

by qkalantary

Igor Stravinsky was an incredible character and thankfully, the first composer we’ve studied who was captured on film. When I first saw him hit a chord he loved over and over again on the piano, it was hard not to smile (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vwq1AyYGzo). This composer had a special personality in his own right. Stravinsky was all about the power of music in itself, rather than as a form of expression or something meant to generate an emotional response. To me, this at first seemed contradictory. It was hard not to see the joy that Stravinsky had playing that 8 note chord—why does he claim to care little of emotion? When i investigated this quote in context, it was much easier to understand his argument.


Stravinsky said that these people who focus on emotion in music “want a drug – dope -…. Music would not be worth much if it were reduced to such an end. When people have learned to love music for itself, when they listen with other ears, their enjoyment will be of a far higher and more potent order, and they will be able to judge it on a higher plane and realize its intrinsic value.” He further says listening is different from hearing. “A duck hears also.” Stravinsky thought of music as something further than entertainment. He thought of music as that which transcended humanity’s seemingly innate desire to “feel” a certain way. This is why he is so often thought of as a mechanical musician. To be fair, he did refer to himself as “a maker” in a documentary and claims that for him the process of making music was more satisfying than the final process. In his work, Stravinsky showed that this new style of 20th century music may not be directly appealing to the emotional sides of the human existence. He was so controversial that he was even escorted away from his productions like a prized fighter after a match. Stravinsky’s attitude towards emotions in music was very unconventional for the time yet eventually matched the lack of convention in his music and the music of the 20th century, where all rules were broken and musicians were free to do things which seemed far too outlandish for the confines of a symphony or opera.


See a great documentary on his life here:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FSJQwkBKKBo