Main content
Sorry, this episode is not currently available

Donald Macleod explores the life and work of Igor Stravinsky.

Donald Macleod explores the life and work of Igor Stravinsky, today focusing on Stravinsky's late move towards serialist methods of composition.

It’s not clear whether Stravinsky’s move in this direction was directly attributable to the influence of his musical assistant Robert Craft, but the younger man regularly conducted concerts which included works by Schoenberg, and Stravinsky seems to have set about a re-appraisal of his own technique.

In his record of conversations he had with Stravinsky over the years, Robert Craft recalls an occasion when he challenged the composer to 'draw' his recent music. Craft led the way by illustrating plainchant with a single straight line, polyphony with four parallel lines, Bach with a grid, Wagner with what looks like a diagram of an interior-sprung mattress, Webern with a spiral, and the New Serialists with what looks like a sketch for a painting by Piet Mondrian - overlapping quadrangles. What Stravinsky came up with to depict his own music of the time - the late 1950s - looks like a simplified version of Harry Beck’s brilliant schematic map of the London Underground system, with a series of points connected by straight lines. 'This', the composer said, 'is my music.'

In Memoriam Dylan Thomas
Ensemble Intercontemporain
Pierre Boulez, conductor

Movements for Piano and Orchestra
Oli Mustonen, piano
Deutsche Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Vladimir Ashkenazy, conductor

Agon: Act IV
London Symphony Orchestra
Orchestra of St Luke's
Robert Craft, conductor

The dove descending breaks the air
Collegium Vocale Gent
Philippe Herreweghe, conductor

Canticum Sacrum
SWR Baden-Baden and Freiburg Symphony Orchestra
SWR Vokalensemble Stuttgart
Michael Gielen, conductor

Produced in Cardiff by Martin Williams

59 minutes

Music Played

  • Igor Stravinsky

    In Memoriam Dylan Thomas

    Orchestra: Ensemble intercontemporain. Conductor: Pierre Boulez. Singer: Robert Tear.
  • Igor Stravinsky

    Movements for piano and orchestra

    Performer: Vladimir Ashkenazy. Performer: Oli Mustonen. Orchestra: Deutsches Symphonie‐Orchester Berlin.
    • 4402292.
    • 402292.
    • 10.
  • Igor Stravinsky

    Agon: Act IV (extract)

    Performer: Orchestra of St. Luke’s. Conductor: Robert Craft. Orchestra: London Symphony Orchestra.
    • 8557502.
    • 8557502.
    • 22.
  • Igor Stravinsky

    The Dove Descending Breaks the Air

    Orchestra: Collegium Vocale Gent Orchestra. Conductor: Philippe Herreweghe.
    • G0100034680020.
    • G0100034680020.
    • 1.
  • Igor Stravinsky

    Canticum Sacrum

    Performer: Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra. Performer: SWR Vokalensemble Stuttgart. Conductor: Michael Gielen.
    • SWR19023CD.
    • SWR19023CD.
    • 1.

Broadcast

Composers A to Z

Composers A to Z

Visit the extensive audio archive of Radio 3 programmes about Composers and their works.

Who knew? Five eye-opening stories from Composer of the Week

Who knew? Five eye-opening stories from Composer of the Week

The production team reflects on 5 of Donald Macleod’s best stories from the last 20 years

A man out of time – why Parry's music and ideas were at odds with his image...

A man out of time – why Parry's music and ideas were at odds with his image...

The composer of Jerusalem was very far from the conservative figure his image suggests.

Five reasons why we love Parry's Jerusalem

Five reasons why we love Parry's Jerusalem

What is the strange power of Jerusalem which makes strong men weep?

Composer Help Page

Composer Help Page

Find resources and contacts for composers from within the classical music industry.