Much Ado about Igor

Igor Stravinsky and Childhood Dorkery

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Monday, August 08, 2011

This week! This week simply rules. Are you ready for serious childhood dorkery? Here goes; I am not ashamed. When I was in ninth or tenth grade, I cut the names of three composers out of construction paper (construction paper!!) and stuck them up on the window-free walls of my room. The east was Hindemith (aw, gimme a break: I was a teen viola queen and a massive fan of Trauermusik), the north was Britten (I’d played part of the C-major quartet at camp and died), and the west was Stravinsky. Stravinsky is so good at music. My high school chorus had sung the Symphony of Psalms and I completely lost my mind. How good is that piece? Afjdkslfjdslkf!!

Well, dorky child-me was hardly the only person to flip out upon hearing Stravinsky’s music; I've seen people walk down the isle to Firebird and dance on lawns to Petrushka, so this week we’re taking a cue from Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival and becoming hopelessly devoted to Stravinsky and his influence. A lot has happened in music over the past 100 years, and much of it has had something to do with Igor.

This week’s got polytonality, octatonic scales, ecstatic neo-classical phrases and pounding polyrhythms. This week! This week simply rules. How far have you gone to show your love for music? What's your most obsessive musical memory? Most entertaining story gets you a Q2 button!!

Hosted by:

Nadia Sirota

Comments [5]

Man, this is a TOUGH one. I'm truly impressed by the level of new music commitment and nerdiness represented here!! There can only be one winner, though, so the Q2 button goes to...

Jay Berkenbilt!! "Nowadays, I'm more likely to do something like transcribe Gorecki's Amen chorus by ear and then order the score to check my work."

FABULOUS commitment to the New Stuff; your pin'll come soon! Please send a mailing address for delivery to

Thanks to all for your GREAT stories! We'll have more contests (and prizes) in the future.

Aug. 12 2011 01:47 PM
Frankie J from Rockville Centre, NY

I worked for a sign painter in Ulster County in 1982. We spent the month of August painting and installing signs all over the area. It was hot and it was humid. WDST/Woodstock had classical music from noon to three every work day and for Stravinsky's Birthday they played only his music for the entire program. For a month! I have been a fan ever since.

Aug. 11 2011 12:17 PM
Jay Berkenbilt from Annandale, VA

Let's see....when I was 13, I spent all my Bar Mitzvah money on a Commodore 64. I named all the components after composers. The computer was Dimitri (after Dmitri Shostavkovich except with an extra "i"), the floppy drive was Serge (Prokofiev), and the printer, acquired later, was Gustav (Mahler). I guess that combines musical geekiness with computer geekiness. Nowadays, I'm more likely to do something like transcribe Gorecki's Amen chorus by ear and then order the score to check my work.
I have to say I was thrilled to hear about Stravinsky week. When our local classical station does Mozart Month or similar, I always ask, "When will it be Stravinsky Month? I'll even take a Stravinsky/Shostakovich Month!" So when Q2 declared Stravinsky week, it was another reminder of why Q2 is my favorite station.

Aug. 10 2011 08:33 AM
Kurt from Lincoln, NE

I read that Scriabin slept with Chopin scores under his pillow to attempt absorbing them by osmosis. I used a book that had both Chopin and Scriabin scores.

I grew my hair into an awkward state in an attempt to look more like Liszt.

I wrote a fan letter to Donald Grantham to thank him for writing such beautiful music.

I somehow managed to get Bethany Beardslee's home phone number, and called to ask her if she would work on a project with me, and thanked her for her beautiful recording of Babbit's Philomel.

Sondheim visited when I was in grad school. I said, "You studied composition with Babbit. Do you like any of his tunes?" Sondheim said, "Could you whistle one of them for me?"

This list could go on for a while...

Aug. 07 2011 06:02 PM
Dan Johnson from Brooklyn

As a teenager, I wore my Tchaikovsky t-shirt until it was full of holes. Man, I wish I still had that shirt. It literally became a rag.

But the really nerdy story is from when I was in college, and an equally John Adams–obsessed friend and I went to the second and third world premiere performances of Naïve & Sentimental Music at the L.A. Phil. There was supposed to be a signing after the Sunday matinee, but it was cancelled, so we actually wandered all around the outside of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion for a long time trying to catch John Adams & get his autograph.

We finally did spot him and his family walking to the parking garage and swooped in, clutching pens and libretti, and even though he protested that he was already late, my friend didn't hear him and thrust the booklet for Ceiling/Sky at him anyways, which Adams graciously signed, followed by my Nixon booklet. For years afterwards I remembered this fanboi moment with an intense, giddy shame. Now it's just… bemused embarrassment.

Aug. 07 2011 05:26 PM

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