One of the greatest composers of the twentieth century, Igor Stravinsky was also one of the most fascinating personalities of his time. His life spanned an astonishing range of events and places – in pre-revolutionary Russia, Europe in the years between the wars, and in the United States between 1941 and his death in 1971. Such masterworks as ‘The Firebird’, ‘Petrushka’ and ‘The Rite of Spring’ assured his reputation in the world of music; his friendships – and often enmities – with most of his great intellectual contemporaries were famous. His personal life, shared by his official family and his mistress, was seldom placid. Touchy, unpredictable, witty and unfailingly brilliant, he is an ideal subject for a deeply informed and sophisticated biography.
This, the first of two volumes, covers Stravinsky’s life and work from his birth in 1882 through to 1934. While respecting Stravinsky’s own insistence that art and life be kept distinct, this biography shows how the development of his work, as well as his theories about it, related to his artistic background and the intellectual environment of his time. Drawing upon a great deal of new material, Stephen Walsh corrects many errors and misconceptions and illuminates the genius of both the music and Stravinsky the man. The result is a vivid and highly readable biography which places its subject decisively at the heart of the modernist tradition. It is essential reading for anyone interested in the great adventure of twentieth century art.
“A masterly biography produced by a scholar in awesome control of his material.” – The Times
“a grand, vividly written, closely researched and sardonically observed life of the composer.” – Observer
“The need for a new biography …is now being fulfilled, more amply and brilliantly than any Stravinskian could have dared to hope….a work of extraordinary range and assurance: based on comprehensive knowledge of the sources, infused with musical intelligence and written with an engaging mix of human warmth and dry, epigrammatic scepticism.” – Sunday Telegraph