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Stravinsky's Good Luck

Stravinsky's Good Luck

Stravinsky's good luck seemed to have run out. His early successes had faded and he sat broke in a tiny apartment in Paris.

The composer of the legendary ballet, The Rite of Spring, was a small, awkward man. He looked, to some, like a gnome. But Stravinsky was an iconoclast who obeyed no rules other than those he set down in his music.

He was an innovator in countless musical ways, in addition to being one of the greatest twentieth century composers.

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Success Fades Away

But all his early success (1900) at ballet faded slowly away. Stravinsky was left with mounting debts, feeling all but forgotten in the Paris of the 20s. His friend, the great pianist Artur Rubinstein, saw his plight, and tried to help the brilliant and famed but broke composer.

Suddenly Artur had a brainstorm! "Write a piece that you can go out and play or conduct, then you will get a fee as the performer. Be a conductor!"

Rubinstein's Brilliant Idea

Stravinsky was delighted at the idea, but somewhat skeptical. "Do you think I could do it?" bubbled the usually dry Igor, lighting his eighty-fourth Gitane cigarette of the day. "I know you can," returned the suave, world-weary Rubinstein, straightening his new diamond cameo cuff links. "You just need a vehicle to charge a fee, that's all," he said, pausing to look at himself in the mirror.

Igor's Savage Piano Concerto

Igor hid away and months later came up with a savage, angular piano concerto. It was brilliant and immediately got him conducting jobs. This led to other jobs until he got a deal with Columbia Records. All his profitable work was as a conductor and personality.

 Here's the concerto. Skip to 2:19 for the spiky part.

Stravinsky became a darling of CBS that the news agencies loved to feature. And hence the modern post-Rite career of the great master Stravinsky was based on a casual conversation with piano virtuoso Artur Rubinstein. Rubinstein's generosity to other musicians is legendary.

Rubinstein's Generosity To Other Musicians

Witness the case of composer Hector Villa Lobos, whom Rubinstein solely raised to international status on the basis of Villa Lobos' unique melodic quality. The career of Hector Villa Lobos is entirely due to Rubinstein's generosity. 

Rubinstein himself prospered but just as grandly gave to those musicians he loved. He had a true nobility of character, and was a refined gentleman in a musical world that could often be less than fair.


Music History

What Killed the Golden Age of the Piano

Carl Tausig Cooks His Cat

I Meet Aaron Copland

George Sand Killed Chopin

Why Brahms Must Have Been Fat

Artur Rubinstein Was A Vampire

Igor Stravinsky Loses His Cool

Vladimir Horowitz Goes To The Racetrack

Beethoven Was No Beauty

The World’s Largest Blue Danube Waltz

Was Mozart Murdered?

Beethoven’s Rage Over A Lost Penny

Franz Schubert, The First Bohemian

Chopin’s Singing Piano Tone

Tchaikovsky’s Greatest Fan

Hector Berlioz and the Orchestral Train Wreck

Piano Lessons with Papa Bach

Piano Lessons with Frederic Chopin

The Great Piano Craze of 1910

The American Piano Wars

Why Hugo Wolf Went Insane

Rachmaninoff and the Evolution of Pop Songs

Musical Feuds

Piano In The Past Was Better

The Master’s Hands

Einstein’s Piano

Einstein’s Violin Improvisations In Gypsy Style

A History of Piano and Numbers

Ryan Seacrest’s Piano Concerto #2

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