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Sunday Soul – Igor Stravinsky’s Eyes
Year 11 – Playlist 7/52 – For the week of June 1st 2014
By 1913 teen hearthrob Igor Stravinsky – Игорь Фёдорович Стравинский – had already changed music forever. Based on scope, Stravinsky swept the genre of music, and expressed himself in symphony, ballet, and overature. He was born in Russia, but later became a naturalized citizen of France and eventually an American. He was born in the suburbs of Saint Petersburg which was the imperial capital at the time – Russia really went through a lot of change in the 19th and 20th centuries. If you aren’t sure about it I highly recommend looking into what imperial Russia was all about, because they were all about France. The Russian court spoke mainly in French, they wanted desperately to be included in the high european arts, and thus began a strict tradition of great writing, great music, and great dance. And as you know, with greatness comes the heady effervesence of distraction. So it’s no surprise that more than a hundred years later much of territorial Russia is still essentially agrarian culture, but that hasn’t stopped the stampede of Empire, war, or revisionist history.
By 1910 Stravinsky was the talk of the town in Switzerland. He’d debuted The Firebird in Paris and the French clapped their heads off over him. In 1911 he followed this top ten hit with Petrushka (which google translate thinks means “parsley”). Typically the second album from an artist who’s debut is a success tends to fall short of the expectation of the press and teens everywhere, but this didn’t stop Igor. He came back swinging in 1913 with The Rite of Spring, arguably his most important work. And here, typically, popular music artists have some money and they’ve been slugging away on the road for a half a decade and they need some time to settle into drug problems and divorces. Stravinsky was no exception. He fell into a creepy Paris crowd in the slender years between World War I and World War II and got chummy with Picasso and Jean Cocteau. He was a modern man, with a vintage look, and a pile of notes about music and art and culture and he was on a mission to revolutionize the world with
three note cells, and twelve note incantations of instrumentation, choral arrangement, and more.
Like his bohemian friends Stravinsky fell for a bored heiress, came to tender fistacuffs with her husband, and wound up drunk with tuberculosis by 1934. But by 1940 Igor was living in the United States and turning out the jams again. A couple of good rests in hospitals all over the world allowed Igor the occasion to scribe his beloved Symphony in C and began to lecture on modern musical theory at Harvard University. But his days on the east coast were numbered. His cryptic major-minor seventh arrangement of The Star Spangled Banner lead to his arrest in Boston and was fined $100 and charged with “rearranging the national anthem in whole or in part.” Some folks say this never happened, like Brittney casually slipping out of a limo without panties, it was only a publicity stunt. But unlike Mrs. Spears, this incident didn’t win Stravinsky any new friends.
At 57 Stravinsky escaped to West Hollywood where he kept close with the ungainly likes of Otto Klemperer, Thomas Mann, Franz Werfel, George Balanchine, Arthur Rubinstein. Bernard Holland, W. H. Auden, Christopher Isherwood, and Dylan Thomas. In Hollywood Igor conducted a little for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and at last signed on with Paramount Pictures and loaned much of his work to Warner Brother’s Loony Toons cartoons. He’s got a star on Hollywood’s walk of fame, and too many awards to mention here. But in 1969 at the ripe old age of 86, Igor Stravinsky moved to the Essex House Hotel in New York City where he lived until his death in 1971. Five years later the new and wildly successful television program Saturday Night Live would put up it’s guests, hosts, and musicians at the Essex House Hotel. I wonder if any of them stayed in Stravinsky’s room?
Like much of what rose to the stature of “high art” in the middle of the 20th century I often
find myself appreciating the art for it’s cereberal value and influential merrit rather than out of pure enjoyment. When I think of classical music I am moved deeply by the romance of Chopin, and carried away by the antagonism of Eric Sati, or brooding morbidly over Bach, Handel, and Dvorak. I rarely reach for Stravinsky, but I never forget his eyes.
Thank you for listening. See you next Sunday.
Here is the track listing for Sunday Soul: Igor Stravinsky’s Eyes
1. Ringing Sjö – YAGYA
2. Changing Mode – Sasse
3. Music From The Soul – Zatonsky Remix – The Note V
4. Not Sad – Zatonsky
5. Sail Away – Aeroplane Remix – The Rapture
6. Listen To Me – Cucumbers
7. How You Say – Daniel Avery Remix – Factory Floor
8. Our Friendship Never Dies – Quell Remix – Illuminated Faces
9. The Clearing – Ost & Kjex Rework – Trulz & Robin
10. Spectral Angels – Maf Ish
11. Fingerbib – Aphex Twin
12. Sunday Soul – Program ID
13. The Summer Cure – Cole’s Bajalearic Mix
14. Sunday Soul – Program ID
Year 11 – Playlist 7|52
1 June 2014
Total Running Time: 01 Hour 27 Minutes
May the stars above you shimmer and shine, guiding your heart always, all of the time. May they guide you sweetly, all the way home. And may all your sundays have soul.