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Igor Stravinsky in Switzerland and France

23. January 2013 by Lorena 0 Comments

Although the composer grew up and got his musical training in Russia, he spent most of his life living abroad, with long periods spent in both Switzerland and France.


Stravinsky went to Paris in 1910 for the premier of his ballet The Firebird. He and his wife, Ekaterina, decided to stay in the west because she was expecting a child. They lived first in Clarens, Switzerland and later in Lausanne. Their son was born in Switzerland on September 23, 1910.


For the first few years, Stravinsky would travel back and forth, spending winters in Switzerland and summers in Russia. In July of 1914, Stravinsky traveled to Russia to collect research materials for a ballet he was composing. Shortly after that, World War I caused the borders to close. He would not return to Russia for half a century.


During his time in Switzerland, Stravinsky would compose three ballets for the Ballet Russes: Petruska, The Rite of Spring and Pulcinella. He also, under the patronage of Swiss philanthropist Werner Reinhart, wrote The Soldier’s Tale.


Russia, and the USSR after it, did not adhere to the Berne Convention, which was the international copyright convention of the time, so, Stravinsky had to come up with creative ways to ensure that he was paid for his work. In 1920, he moved to Paris to form a partnership with Pleyel, a player piano company. Stravinsky adapted his works for the player piano that took full advantage of the technology. Rather than writing pieces limited by the abilities of human hands, he created music that utilized all 88 keys of the instrument.


While in Paris in 1921, Stravinsky met ballet dancer Vera de Bosset. They began an affair that would last until the death of his wife Ekaterina in 1939. Stravinsky and de Bosset were married in 1940, and remained together until his death.


Stravinsky and his family became French citizens in 1934. They divided their time between Paris and the south of France. During his time in Paris, Stravinsky made many valuable contacts in the states. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra was set to perform a piece he composed for them, Symphony in C. And, he had agreed to lecture at Harvard in 1939. War moved the family once again when World War II broke out in September of 1939. Stravinsky moved his family to the US, where he would live for the rest of his life.