The Russian-born composer Igor Stravinsky is widely regarded as the most original and influential composer of the 20th century. The première in Paris of 'The Rite of Spring' met with such astonishment & hostility that it famously caused a riot almost as ferocious as the piece itself, and remains one of the main landmarks in the long history of western music.
His prominence was first launched with such early works as the ballet 'The Firebird', which was commissioned for the Ballets russes. But very soon after, he began his move towards his vibrant modernism with 'Petrushka'. The period of the first world war, however, brought a radical experimental period, and 'Pulcinella' launched his neo-classical phase which dominated the 1920s-40s (with works such as 'Oedipus Rex', the 'Symphony of Psalms', and 'The Rake's Progress'). During this phase, at the outbreak of the second world war, he moved to the USA and settled in California, where, later on, his ballet 'Agon' was another watershed, in which he unexpectedly embraced serialism.
The hallmarks of his style, in whichever innovative period, are Russian folk inflections, rhythmic energy and orchestral virtuosity, clarity and directness. His ballet scores are among the most significant of the past century.
"Music is given to us specifically to make order of things, to move from an anarchic, individualistic state to a regulated, perfectly conscious one, which alone ensures vitality and durability." — Igor Stravinsky