The Classical Music Minute

Stravinsky’s Journey Through Neoclassicism

October 24, 2022 Steven Hobé, Composer & Host Season 1 Episode 82
The Classical Music Minute
Stravinsky’s Journey Through Neoclassicism
Show Notes Transcript

Igor Stravinsky was a huge proponent of Neoclassicism in music—much to the shock and dismay of some listeners and critics. Take a minute to get the scoop!

Listen to: Igor Stravinsky - Octet for Wind Instruments [With score] ℅ YouTube

Fun Fact
A pupil of Rimsky-Korsakov in his native St. Petersburg, Stravinsky had inherited the style of the Russian nationalist group, the so-called kuchka or Mighty Handful, and the ballets he wrote for Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes before and during the First World War – The Firebird, Petrushka, The Rite of Spring, and Les Noces – are post-kuchka works, based on folk tales or rituals, using folk music or poetry, and largely ignoring the orthodox procedures of traditional classical music.

About Steven, Host
Steven is a Canadian composer living in Toronto. He creates a range of works, with an emphasis on the short-form genre—his muse being to offer the listener both the darker and more satiric shades of human existence. If you're interested, please check out his website for more. Member of the Canadian League Of Composers.

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Igor Stravinsky was a huge proponent of Neoclassicism in music.
Examples include Oedipus Rex, derived from Greek tragedy but with Handelian and Verdian arias. His opera The Rake’s Progress, based on The Beggar’s Opera with a touch of Mozartian flair. 
But it was his Octet for wind instruments that truly represents this aesthetic form. The Octet presents a three-movement chamber work in the manner of an 18th-century divertimento; there are touches of Bach and Haydn and a hint of sonata form.
But not everyone was a fan. Aaron Copland witnessed the world premiere in Paris, and reported his dismay at the abrupt, inexplicable turn away from Stravinsky's well-established neo-primitivist Russian style, to what appeared to everyone as "a mess of 18th-century mannerisms". 
But Stravinsky had embarked on a new era reverting to the forms and textures of the pre-Romantic era.