Stravinsky Three Musical Compositions

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Stravinsky Three Musical Compositions


Art in the modern world is equivalent to a thousand words that are put down in writing or spoken by the mouth. This is because a lot of message is fused in the design to make it more appreciated and relevant to the eyes, the ears and all other senses. In this discussion, we have looked at music as one of this form of art, and particularly the three songs by a great musician by the name Igor Stravinsky: Firebird, Petrushka and The Rite of the spring.


Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky; who was a Russian, then a naturalized French person and later an American was an accomplished pianist, conductor and a music composer. He is given credit for his influential music composition for the 20th century music and was to be ranked among the 100 most influential people in that century by the Time Magazine. Just like many other cases where parents opt to decide the careers of their young ones, the parents of this great turned musician wanted him to become a lawyer, but he had a passion and enthusiasm for music. He however enrolled to study law at the university in the year 1901 but always felt ill suited for the course and in the four years, he attended fewer than 50 class sessions. On being prevented to take his law finals, he thought is wise to concentrate on this passion in the year 1906; music.

According to White (1979), the landmark in his music career was between the year 1909-1914 when he produced three sizzling music; Petrushka (1911), The Rite of Spring (1913) and Firebird (1910). Generally, his compositional career can be noted as full of stylistic diversity where he achieved international fame and the commissioning of the three ballets by Impresario Sergei Diaghilev and later performed by Diaghilev as Russian Ballets. Even though the three music compositions are heart touching with their powerful relevance, it is Petrushka that scores the most especially in the way it reveals the idiosyncratic way of handling the orchestra by this great music composer. In fact, it stands as the first work which was published by the Russischer Musik Verlag which was the new music publishing house (White, 1979). However, all his music is incomparable to none other and has great relevance that reverberates up to today’s life.

The Rite of Spring is a music composed by this great musician in the year 1913 and it is a kind of music that is sizzling especially with this handling of the primitive themes. It has good dissonances and well thought about asymmetries, the polyrhythm and the polytonalities. When listening to this music, one cannot fail to notice the floating of the melody coming out of the orchestral pit. However, there are some turns of events in the feelings when he mixes the pagan content, the wild choreography and the ritual sacrifice. On the other hand, the Firebird music which was the first of the Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes has themes such as war especially where he notes that he is in a dream on the back of the wolf to go and fight with a sorcerer. All in all, the two music have lines that make the musician turn out as great, and as Sadie (1990) writes, the two songs shows a person who can have radical alternatives and then come up with themes that are to reverberate the whole of the 20th century and to some extent extended to the 21st century.

When listening to the story line in the rite of the spring, one cannot fail to notice the high solo at the starting and this registers to me as the listener something that appears contrary to the nature. This music actually represents some annihilation of the individual ego and suspends the free will and the distance between the listener and the music itself.  This kind of experience comes out as so powerful but still frightening, that is, it is both exhilarating and terrifying. This is true of the song firebird where there is some kind of expectations of a battle when he sets out in his dreams into the forest to do a fierce battle with the sorcerer. He is keen to get the princess who is sitting under lock and key and pinned behind the massive walls. What are coming out are an appreciated story yet so frightening especially in expectations of turnouts in the story.

When the rite of spring is compared with the song Petrushka, the same kind of message is got even though the latter comes out so powerful than the previous. As we had discussed earlier, the song the rite of the spring, the appreciation is mixed with the frightening nature of the music and given the best description as haunting like a good nightmare. In the song Petrushka, what is brought out is a kind of caustic, brittle and grotesque kind of music. To an extent, this music received criticism especially during performances, and this could be attributed to giving the people a kind of performance that the people were not expecting. All in all, the music is annihilating with its rich combination of factors of good music, and this is one of the music that characterized the musician as one of the best in the whole of the 20th century. One cannot fail to realize the difficulties expressed by the writer of his environment, especially when he mentions things like dark forest and evil dwells. More importantly, we realize that this music fuses ballet, choreography, music and history altogether in a most perfect way, and it is here that we see a total Russian approach to music.

The songs touch different themes even though they come from the same musician, but what is common in them is the kind of richness they portray. The mastery of the lyrics shows how much the musician was engrossed to solving his own world and trying to describe his nature and the environment in the music. Petrushka stands out as more passionate with what is fused, for example, the Russian kind of tradition is mixed in it, and this makes me as the listener not only get the good composition of the music, but also the rich message that is coming out. In this way, we cannot fail to notice the candidness of the message despite the criticism the music attracted from its supposed listeners.

Lastly, when Petrushka song is compared with the firebird song, a comparison with some little differences are noticed and in the two songs, we realize that the musician had more than one message in his mind. The song firebird was earlier described as combining the annihilation and fright getting the music attracting different kind of appreciation. On the other hand, Petrushka generally characterizes an adventure into a deep and dark forest but the mention of the word Germany brings out the needed message of hate. From the song, we can get the main character that is heralded by the bitonality device and when a hidden message is tried to be brought out in a song, it becomes a song with a message. That explains why the music was played for a long time than any of his other songs, and actually given another version in the year 1947. The song firebird was welcomed and the heir of the great Russians presumptively who was loved well but the song Petrushka now brings into fusion this idea in a most complete way and very understandable.

From my feelings, Petrushka song is the most successful of them all and one that captures the needed messages. With an idea to get a complete Russian understanding, then, the music Petrushka is the best more than even firebird and as Taruskin (1996) writes, the song buys the idea of a struggling tradition of this great nation and helps get a kind of touching synthesis of octatonicism as well as folklorism. In this song, what comes in mind is an image of a person who is struggling to make his environment look good, and in this song, the writer mentions deep dark forest to perhaps send a message that the future is deem. There are hills that are snow-covered and cold winds blowing but all in all, this kind of evil helps bring the romance of the place. There is the mention of Germany in the song and basing it as Russian; we see the hate coming out.


Sadie, S, (1990). The Cambridge music guide. Berkeley: University of California Press

Taruskin, R. (1996). Stravinsky and the Russian traditions: A biography of the works through Mavra, Volume 1. Berkeley: University of California Press.

White, E. (1979). Stravinsky, the composer and his works. Berkeley: University of California Press.



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