June 17, 1882 – April 06, 1971
Igor Stravinsky was born in St. Petersburg, which was the capital of Russia at the time. His father was a famous opera singer, so as a kid, Igor got to hang out at the opera house, where he met all the famous musicians of the day. At one performance, he even caught sight of Tchaikovsky.
Igor began taking piano lessons at age 9. When he grew up, he started studying law. One of his fellow law students was the son of composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, who agreed to give Stravinsky composition lessons. Law fell by the wayside completely after Stravinsky had a big success with The Firebird, which he composed for Serge Diaghilev, head of the Russian Ballet.
Stravinsky went on to write more ballets for Diaghilev. One of those was The Rite of Spring, about a pagan ritual in ancient Russia. The opening night audience found the music and choreography so shocking that there was actually a riot in the theater!
Stravinsky moved around a lot. In Europe, he lived in France and Switzerland; during World War II, he came to the United States, where he lived in both California and New York. Stravinsky’s music moved around, too — he never really picked one style. He wrote Russian-sounding music, music that looked back to previous centuries, modern music, opera, and religious music — including a symphony with psalms in it.