Example research essay topic: Living A Musical Language Through The Work Of Stravinsky – 1,375 words

Stravinsky Stravinsky is considered to be one of
the greatest composers of the twentieth century.
He introduced two of the first major suggestions
of contemporary music. He is thought of as
somewhat revolutionary because of the clamorous
reception of his new style. Igor Fedorovich
Stravinsky was born on June 17, 1882. His
birthplace is Oranienbaum, Russia, which is now
Lomonosov. His father was the leading bass singer
at the Imperial Opera House in Saint Petersburg.
Although he came from a very music-oriented
family, Stravinsky was not encouraged to pursue a
musical career. Instead he was pushed to study
law.

He attended the University of Saint
Petersburg. During his studies at the university,
he met Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (Encarta). Korsakov
was a famous Russian composer and a theoretician
known for his book on orchestration, Principles of
Orchestration (classical). Korsakov pointed the
way to Stravinskys early works, and his influence
can be deciphered in early pieces such as Symphony
No. 1 in E Flat. Soon afterwards the contribution
of two French impressionists, Claude Debussy and
Maurice Ravel, affected his work.

This French
influence produced pieces such as Fireworks and
The Faun and the Shepherdess. Impressed by his
orchestral talent, Sergey Diaghilev, a Russian
impresario, commissioned Stravinsky to compose
pieces for the Ballets Russes. In 1910, he
produced The Firebird, his first ballet for
Diaghilev and Petrushka in 1911. Both were very
well received and acquired great success from the
audience. The pieces were appreciated for their
sensational force, their lavish orchestration, and
their suggestion of Russian folk songs. (Encarta)
In 1913, Paris audiences experienced Stravinskys
revolutionary Rite of Spring.

The unorthodox
choreography coupled with the irregular, drastic
rhythms was not only unbearable for the dancers,
but also displeased the audience. The Rite of
Spring was performed again in the later years and
was very well received. It is the piece he is most
known for today. The year after The Rite of Spring
was composed, World War I began its destructive
course. Stravinsky left Russia and took refuge in
Switzerland. At this time, Stravinsky became
interested with the production of classical
pieces.

He updated the pieces for an augmented
harmonious language. Some of these are Pulcinella,
a ballet, and Oedipus Rex, which were inspired by
the Handelian oratorio. (Classical) During and
after the war, Switzerland underwent troublesome
social economic times. This made it nearly
impossible for large-scale works to be produced
and performed. Subsequently, in 1918, Stravinsky
composed The Soldiers Tale. It used very few
resources: six instruments and percussion, three
actors and a dancer.

The six instruments and
percussion depicted the four sections of the
orchestra. The Soldiers Tale clearly illustrates
the frustration and dashing of peoples hopes
during the years of war. This attitude can also be
seen in other pieces such as Ragtime, written in
1918, and Piano Rag-Music from 1919. (Encarta) In
1920, Stravinsky moved to Paris. In the years that
followed his settling in France, he wrote
Symphonies of Wind Instruments, in 1920, and the
comic opera Mavra, in 1922. He also wrote the
ballet cantata Les Noces, which means the wedding,
in French.

Diaghilevs Ballets Russes first
performed Les Noces in 1923. During his stay in
Paris, Stravinsky also started performing as a
pianist and conductor to financially help his
family. Consequently, he began to write pieces
that were adapted to his own piano capabilities.
When 1923 came around, Stravinskys neoclassical
style became more apparent. It was characterized
by renewed interest in the seventeenth and
eighteenth centuries. His works from this period
also deviate from the late romantic period and its
sentimentality and its excessive emotions.
Stravinsky was striving for an ideal of
objectivity. This can be seen in his
Autobiography, written in 1935, where he states,
Music is by its very best nature powerless to
express anything at all.

(Encarta) He also said
that performers should avoid adding their own
self-expression and follow only the composers
intentions. One of the works of this period is
Apollo Musagte written in 1928. This piece is now
titled Apollo. It is one of the earliest pieces
Stravinsky composed for Russian-American
choreographer George Balanchine. (Encarta) In the
early 1920s, Stravinsky fell in love with an
actress. Vera de Bosset Soudeikine became his
second wife in 1940, after his first wife passed
away.

In the middle of the 1920s, Stravinsky
experienced a spiritual crisis. He returned to the
church that he had left when he was eighteen: the
Russian Orthodox Church. In 1930, he composed his
Symphony O Psalms, written to a Latin biblical
text. This work seemed to discontinue his ideal of
objectivity which he marked his neoclassical
style. In 1939, Stravinsky moved once again. He
left Europe and settle in the United States,
finding residence in Hollywood, California.

At
this point, commissions were his main source of
financial support. Some of the works he was
assigned to produce were Circus Polka and Danses
Concertantes in 1942, the latter which was written
for orchestra; and in 1944, he wrote Scnes de
Ballet for a Broadway revue. In 1951, he wrote an
extremely successful opera called The Rakes
Progress. This opera was the ultimate peak of his
works as a neoclassical composer. (Encarta) In
1948, Robert Craft came into Stravinkys life both
as a friend and a musical subordinate. The young
American conductor encouraged Stravinsky to listen
to the music of surrealists.

Previously,
Stravinsky had cast aside the theories of
surrealism, introduced by Austrian composer Arnold
Schoenberg. He now became interested in the music
of one of Schoenbergs followers, Anton Webern. As
he learned more about surrealism, Stravinsky blend
those techniques into his own work. Serial
influences can be distinguished in his 1958
cantata Threni, and his last major work, Requiem
Canticles, written in 1966. During his mid-80s,
Stravinskys health was starting to fail. In 1967,
he recorded his last piece of music.

Stravinsky
died on April 6, 1971 in New York City. He was
buried near Diaghilevs grave in Venice. (Encarta)
Stravinsky did not only change nationalities
several times, but he also had many different
styles of music. His compositions underwent
exceptional transformations. His early works, such
as Symphony in E flat, show the influence of his
Russian models. His ballets show persuasions from
a wide range of composers like Claude Debussy.
Stravinsky broke new ground with the complexity
and entanglement of The Rite of Spring.

When he
returned to Paris, he had a new interest in older
methods. This was the beginning of his renowned
neoclassical period. The culmination of this
period was the production of the opera The Rakes
Progress. This work was an acclimatization of one
of Mozarts comedies. Stravinsky once again styles
late in his life and was influenced by the methods
of twelve tone and serial composition. He also
created various religious pieces.

Throughout all
his styles, a few peculiarities and singularities
remain uninterrupted. One of these characteristics
is his clarity of sound because of his dynamic use
of orchestration. Another idiosyncrasy is his
dryness, which adds to his clarity of sound.
Lastly, Stravinskys works were always concise and
precise, which was the style during the 1920s, but
he kept that form throughout his career.
(Essential) He believed that continuing in the
same path was to go backward. His works not only
reflected, but also influenced the most notable
musical trends of the twentieth century. The
persisting significance came from the
technicalities, originality, strength, and
rationality that Stravinsky included in his
pieces. (Encarta) Stravinskys works were
influenced by the composers of the past and
affected the musicians of the present.

He was a
revolutionary who helped bring evolution to the
world of composition and orchestration. He is
considered to be one of the greatest composers of
the twentieth century. No other composers of this
century, and perhaps any century, wrote in such a
variety of styles, as did Stravinsky. Stravinskys
unpredictable individualism and originality
precluded the formation of a school of
composition, but the influence of his music has
been widespread, ranging from Sergei Prokofiev and
Dmitry Shostakovich to Darius Milhaud, Aaron
Copland, and many others. (Island) Works Cited
Classical net: Igor Stravinsky. Classical net,
2000.
http://www.classical.net/music/comp.1st/stravnsk.h
tml Essentials of music – Composers.

Sony Music
Entertainment, 2000.
http://www.essentialsofmusic.com/composer/stravins
ky.html Igor Stravinsky, 1996.
http://www.island-of-freedom.com/STRAV.HTM Zinar,
Ruth. Stravinsky, Igor Fyodorovich Microsoft
Encarta, 2000.
http://encarta.msn.com/find/Concise.asp?z=1&pg
=2&ti=0312C000.

Research essay sample on Living A Musical Language Through The Work Of Stravinsky