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Artur Rubinstein Was A Vampire

Artur Rubinstein Was A Vampire

Artur Rubinstein, one of the most famous pianists of the twentieth century, was a vampire. That's what famed composer Igor Stravinsky called him, accusing him of drinking the lifeblood of composers. They were having a heated argument over Stravinsky's music. Rubinstein loved and championed Stravinsky to many audiences, far ahead of his time in terms of piano recital programming.

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But that was what made Igor so angry. He hated the fact that most concerts were constructed entirely of dead composer's music. Even today, that is the case. Orchestras and soloists in those days (circa 1930) made careers and sold records on the strength of the tried and true war-horses, like Beethoven and Chopin.

Rubinstein Championed Stravinsky's Music

They left the adventurous new pieces to a few brave souls like Artur Rubinstein, and various specialists. In fact Rubinstein played Stravinsky's crazy-sounding music around the world, making up his own arrangements of Stravinsky's orchestral pieces to create unique programs. He helped to popularize the thorny Stravinsky.

Igor was a modern composer, a genius difficult to digest fully in post World War I times. People were longing for fun and brightness. It took decades after his initial success around 1900 for Stravinsky to penetrate the popular consciousness. Audiences loved Stravinsky's orchestral works, which were all unique and haunting. Eventually he did prove himself a success as a modern composer, an event even more rare than flying pigs.

Stravinsky Accuses Rubinstein

But back in that heated moment in 1930 when Igor spoke with the injured venom of the penniless composer, this is what Stravinsky said, more or less, to the vastly successful concert pianist Artur Rubinstein: "You pianists become millionaires playing the music of the starving Mozart and Schubert and the poor mad Schumann, the tubercular Chopin and the sick Beethoven. Pianists are like a vampire, living off the blood of these great geniuses." But now it's a hundred years later, and Stravinsky is one of the geniuses on which we vampires feed.


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