Stravinsky – Ragtime for piano solo (sheet music, transcribed by the composer)

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Stravinsky – Ragtime for piano solo (sheet music, transcribed by the composer)

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Igor Stravinsky (Russia, 1882 – USA, 1971)

Stravinsky was born on June 17, 1882, in Oranienbaum, now Lonomosov. The son of an outstanding opera singer and a pianist, he studied piano as a child with a Rubinstein student, but never went to the conservatory.

His parents want him to be a lawyer, and he enters the law school of St. Petersburg.

During those years at university he made contact with Rimsky-Korsakov, with whom he began to learn orchestration.

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Stravinsky graduated in law at the age of 22, but decided that he wanted to devote himself to composition. He marries the following year with his cousin Katerina Nossenko, with whom he has three children.

At the age of 26, the businessman Segei Diaghilev, leader of the Russian ballet, commissioned him to write his first ballet score: The Firebird, a resounding success. He moves to live in Paris with the Russian ballet.

During the following two years, his work culminates with the ballets Petruska and The Consecration of Spring, the latter highly controversial and a major musical scandal.

During the First World War Stravinsky went to live in Switzerland, where he wrote minor works, chamber music, songs.

At the end of the war, he returned to tour with the Russian ballet, writing works such as Pulcinella.

When Diaghilev died, he left the Russian ballet and devoted himself to instrumental music. He directs his works all over Europe and the United States, and when his wife dies he settles in Hollywood, where he marries Vera Sudeikina.

At the age of 62 he obtained North American nationality. Stravinsky continued his work as a composer until the age of 85. He makes recordings of his music.

Due to health problems, Stravinsky moved to New York, where he died on April 6, 1971. Stravinsky was buried in Venice, next to the grave of his great collaborator, Diaghilev.


Stravinsky is one of the most outstanding composers of the 20th century in music for the stage, ballets and operas. His style is very eclectic:

His early works are influenced by Wagner, Debussy and Rimsky-Korsakov, but he adds Russian and Slavic elements to his music. Stravinsky’s compositions give off a folkloric air, with great importance of rhythm.

His music evolves towards a neoclassical style, reminiscent of the works of Handel and Verdi, and towards the last compositions he is inspired by Webern’s serialism.

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It is shocking for many that, in the middle of the 20th century, a new music could have a foundation classical while other composers regarded it as a counterbalance to dodecaphonism. This existence of various compositional tendencies had great importance because the music ceased to have a single goal to show two opposite poles.

Stravinsky began to get sources of inspiration in Bach and Beethoven for later back even further, to Machaut and Gesualdo because of all the sources to which he had access he selected those whose material he could unify to consider it their own, elaborating a line of composition completely different from Schönberg’s.

According to Routh, Stravinsky’s speculative doubts about musical art led him to a complex but precise and logical aesthetic because in the composition he only obeyed those laws which he considered to be part of the true nature of music, which is shown in that its principles aesthetics were based on the incessant search for order and unity.

Their objective aesthetics of him was opposed to that of the romantics, who placed their emotions as models, while he, without being indifferent to emotion human, he was wary of such a subjective basis for what he considered a very demanding process: creativity.

Secondly, the dichotomy between the aesthetics of Schönberg and that of Stravinsky is It is based on the loss of melody that occurred in the 20th century; Schönberg continued the consequences of Wagner’s music because he considered it to be the normal course that music could not avoid while Stravinsky tried to recover the principles of order that Wagner had discarded, thus basing his aesthetics on the fact that the human creative spirit is released in the acceptance of limitations.

Stravinsky defended the creative will of man against the destructive power that for him, it produced freedom, always based on tradition national because, in his opinion, “tradition is pushed forward to produce something new.

According to Routh, all young composers have role models –because they are in learning stage – but what is specific about Stravinsky is that he took them into his stage of maturity as an artistic choice and necessity (not taking only a work or a style but “an entire cultural tradition”).

In the text “Freedom and necessity in the artist” Stravinsky exposes that “the function of the artist is to pass through the sieve the elements that the imagination contributes ”, which is justified by the limitation that man must place on what he offers the imagination of him.

He highlights the idea that the more rules are imposed on, the freer artistic creation will be this, justifying it due to the fact that if everything is allowed to the composer, he will lose himself in so much freedom. In this sense, he defends the use of parameters in traditions of music as a fundamental tool for the composition (“the seven notes of the range”, “its chromatic intervals”, “the strong beat and the weak beat”).

All those traditional elements offer you a wealth of experience that has been accumulated over the course of several centuries, while their possibilities of combination and use will never run out.

In your opinion art must be based on solid foundations, built throughout many generations and its freedom will be all the greater, the more it limits its field of action and, what is most striking, “the more obstacles are put in front”.

In “The Duty of inventing music” highlights the impossibility of discovering the phases of creation in the work of another composer and even in his own; is aware that one usually speaks of “inspiration” as an element fundamental in creation but, although he does not reject it, he defends that it does not is a precondition of the creative act because “balance and calculation” are really the elements that are present at the beginning of creation, coming later the “emotional excitement” (first the rational and then the emotional).

Any creation must start from what he calls an “appetite”, while understanding that the musician has “the duty” to invent music and the invention needs the imagination (but both elements should not be confused because inventing implies a finding and a perceptible realization, while the imagination can merely remain there if it does not acquire realization).

Distinguish between imagination and fantasy because the latter considers it as “abandon yourself to the whim”; on the contrary, it values ​​the contribution of “what unexpected”, that which appears in the creative process and which contributes flexibility to rigidity in creation. It also points out the importance of observation, a process that accompanies creation and is carried out through starting from the most common and humble elements.

The creation of the composer should not be seen as a “penance” but should respond to a search for pleasure and satisfaction that he will not achieve without effort. For To be able to observe effectively, in a way that produces results, one must have what Stravinsky calls “acquired culture and innate taste” is that is, on the one hand, a substrate that began in education and that complete in continuous exercise and on the other, a “spontaneous faculty” that precedes reflection.

Schoenberg in his text entitled “Art is as urgent as a spring” defends that the artist’s creation should be natural and not have to adapt necessarily to the listener’s ability to understand or to the imposition of a market or fashion, so artists should not go back to a past period following an outdated aesthetic because “they alienate themselves of nature”, that is, they go against the natural flow of music and its product do not survive in the context in which it was created.

He’s a supporter that, regardless of the type of composition that is made, (conservative or revolutionary) the artist must be convinced of the possibilities of his own inspiration and fantasy as the desire to control new media will appear in the mind of every artist even if he must justify the tools he uses (the dissonant character of those harmonies and their successions).

“Art is a message for humanity, although it is not always made so that it can be understood by everybody”, is the title of another of the epigraphs of his Style and idea in which he shows his position against giving more importance to style than to the idea, which justified turning to what he calls an old style, with the limitations of expression that, in his opinion, it entails; the artist who really uses his intelligence and ingenuity cannot allow outside influences to influence the outcome of your thought of him.

The need to create responds to the desire to deliver a message to the humanity it reaches, even if it does not know the coherence internal of what it receives.

No musician should regress to forms of the past in order for his work to be understood because his thoughts, like that of all artists, “They take place in the highest spheres.” He considers hypocrisy that some composers make believe that they reduce the artistic level of their works to so that the masses can access what the artist considers “his riches”.

Igor Stravinsky and Arnold Schönberg represent two opposite poles in the music of the 20th century; for Schönberg side, systematizer of the twelve-tone method, opts for a break with all of the above, justified by the fact that music it must follow its natural process of transformation; on the opposite side Stravinsky will be a defender of maintaining the traditional composition system and he will only compose some works with the twelve-tone technique at the end of his life of him

For Stravinsky, the atonalism was chaos, and he said he had no time for the laws of twelve Schönberg’s notes; for his part, he said that Stravinsky could not be further from the aesthetics of him. Opposing conceptions of him show two solutions also opposed to the music of the 20th century; while Schönberg was dogmatizing, interested in theory, nationalistic and introverted, and he used to teach more than interpret, Stravinsky speculated, he was interested in more practical, he was cosmopolitan and extroverted and interpreted more than he taught.

It can be said that only shared by the disciples (among which Webern stands out, who interpreted the twelve-tone laws and unlike Berg who compromised with them), reaching serialism, a technique that Stravinsky considered as a means to “broaden the perspective of musical language”, which it seemed to him a more creative principle than a dogma.

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List of compositions by Igor Stravinsky (from Wikipedia)

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