stravinskyI recently re-read the last of Robert Craft and Igor Stravinsky’s famous collaborative books, Retrospectives and Conclusion. It was published in 1969. That might have the the year I first read it. There are not many people who are more inspiring to me than Igor Stravinsky. His catalog of works is huge, and I think I like everything he wrote. His work from a hundred years ago still seems fresh and innovative. He was invariably himself, and seemed to be immune to trends and vagaries of the music business. As the poet Ezra Pound said of art more generally, Stravinsky’s music is “news that stays news.” And I admire how incisively he spoke of others’ work. Here he is in a 1966 interview, talking about Charles Ives: “[He] was exploring the 1960s during the heyday of Strauss and Debussy. Polytonality; atonality; tone clusters; perspectivistic effects; chance; statistical composition; permutation; add-a-part, practical-joke, and improvisatory music: these were Ives’ discoveries a half-century ago as he quietly set about devouring the contemporary cake before the rest of us even found a seat at the same table.” Who speaks like this? Who can so eloquently analyze another composer on the fly? Like so much of his music, Stravinsky’s take on Ives is important, profound and funny all at the same time. Love this guy.

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