Monday, October 24, 2011

Igor Stravinsky: Complete Chronological Catalogue

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the Pablo Picasso of classical music. The lord of dance of the 1910s avant-garde. The guy who forced modernism into bed with Russian folk tunes. Who donned a face like a mask from Tarantino films in the 1920s, and indulged in a peculiar obsession with pianola. Who emerged to find Uncle Sam. Who was written off as a has-been by the end of the 1940s, and who suddenly shifted gears to serialism and composed some of the strongest music of his career beginning in the mid 1950s. Ladies and gentlemen — Columbia recording artist Igor Stravinsky.

I made up the above parody from the introduction for Bob Dylan, who happens to be on the same label with Stravinsky. Somehow, the scene that Saint-Saëns famously stormed out of the premiere of The Rite of Spring always reminds me of another incident at 1965's Newport folk festival, in which Pete Seeger almost chopped Dylan's microphone cables, had he find an axe.

A few things about the playlist. 1, It is after the chronological list on IMSLP, from 1902's Storm Cloud, to 1966's Requiem Canticles. Most works are available on Spotify, except for a few early works and miniatures. I've noticed the IMSLP list missed Mass (1948), please leave a comment if you find other works left out. 2, Stravinsky revised many early works, all different versions of important works are included here, as well as suites from the ballets, arranged by the composer. For The Firebird I used Stravinsky's recording of the original 1910 ballet, and three concert suites (1911, 1919 and 1945) conducted by Boulez (Sony called it Suite 1910) Bernstein and Chailly respectively. For Rite of Spring, I used Pierre Monteux's RCA recording of the original 1913 version (he also conducted the premiere of the work), and Ferenc Fricsay's DG recording of the revised 1947 version. Unfortunately Richard Craft's new Naxos recording of the 1967 edition (not really a revision) is not on Spotify yet. For Symphony of Psalms, I used two recordings by Stravinsky, one is the first ever recording of this work, recorded two months after its world premiere (from the EMI booklet: "The choir, throaty, full-blooded, darkly, inwardly passionate, sing with liturgical conviction and intensity in a memorable performance."), another is the 1960s Columbia studio recording of the revised 1948 version. 3, I used the recordings that are available on both side of the pond when possible.

Here's the Spotify playlist: Igor Stravinsky: Complete Chronological Catalogue (577 tracks, total time: 1 day) Press Ctrl (CMD)+G to browse in album view. Also check out this excellent Naxos audiobook about The Rite on Spotify. I wanted to recommend the 22-CD Stravinsky box-set to those who still buy CDs, then I found it's sold out. Well I'm glad that I got mine in time, and I'm even more glad that now I have Spotify. Enjoy.

Note: the picture above is from Stravinsky Foundation. For even more expressive portraits of him (and Marlene Dietrich), see corner portraits.


  1. I think the Three Little Songs (Recollections of Childhood) are missing from the IMSLP list (and maybe on your playlist -- I haven't gone through it thorougly). There is a recording on the "Boulez conducts Stravinsky" set:

    1. Other works not listed on IMSLP were added but I missed that one. Thanks.

    2. My pleasure. You perform an amazing service, so it's nice to be able to contribute a little.

      Also missing is the 1917 version of Les Noces. There is a recording by Peter Eotvos on Hungaroton, but I don't think it's on Spotify yet.

  2. One more -- there's an arrangement of the Concertino for 12 instruments (originally for string quartet).

  3. Elegie for solo viola (1944):

    Also, looks like Suite #1 for orchestra was included twice, leaving out Suite #2.

    I really appreciate all your work on these lists!

  4. Maybe the Septet (1953) is missing?

  5. I wonder if you could substitute a recording of "In Memoriam Dylan Thomas" with one sung by a tenor (as indicated in the score). Also, "Threni" is missing the first movement (Incipit).

    1. Done. Thanks for making the playlist so much better!

    2. Wow, my pleasure. It was extremely fun to play through the list. Stravinsky's output has a compelling sweep.

  6. This is probably the last request for this list... Stravinsky made piano (4 hands) and pianola arrangements of Le Sacre.

    Piano here:

    Pianola here:

    They might be worth having for completeness, but I think they're also really fascinating.

  7. this picture is taken without permission from the web site of the igor stravinsky's Foundation

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