Igor Stravinsky Loses His Cool
One pleasant spring day in Paris, the great pianist Artur Rubinstein went to visit the famous composer Igor Stravinsky in his tiny music studio. "So, did you play my Piano Rag Music in your concerts?" asked Stravinsky. He was hoping the great pianist had put Stravinsky's piano piece in his programs.
Rubinstein decided to be frank, and come right out with it. "Igor, I'm an old fashioned pianist. This music is too percussive for me." Stravinsky bridled at the bad review. He remarked that Rubinstein did not understand the Piano Rag Music.
Stravinsky Wrote Clangorous Piano Music
For our readers, the Piano Rag Music is strikingly modern, angular, percussive and loud. Stravinsky angrily sat down and loudly played the piece through about ten times. Rubinstein sat and with each repetition hated the piece even more. He could not disguise his feelings to Stravinsky.
Stravinsky exploded with anger, sputtering and raging. He loudly denounced his friend. "You think you can make the piano can sing? But that is only a romantic illusion! The piano is a utilitarian instrument meant only for percussion."
Now Rubinstein exploded. "The public dislikes you and your music. Remember the Rite of Spring, how the orchestra was too loud? When I play your music on the hated piano, the public loves it. It's a mystery to me."
"Here, like this," said Rubinstein. He sat at the piano and played a bit from Stravinsky's Petruschka. Stravinsky immediately calmed down. Rubinstein played his piece so wonderfully.
Igor Loves Rubinstein Playing Stravinsky
"How do you get that pedal effect on the bass notes?" marveled Stravinsky at Rubinstein's genius. He had forgotten his tirade of only a moment ago. A discussion of the sonic possibilities of the piano ensued. Stravinsky offered to write a special arrangement of the Petruschka music for Rubinstein.
Stravinsky, too proud to apologize, and Rubinstein, too gracious to care, embraced each other and remained good friends for life. And thus the great Igor Stravinsky lost his cool with a very dear friend.