Hear the name "Igor Stravinsky" and the first thing that comes to mind is a composer of ponderous, "serious" music. But did you know that Stravinsky lived much of his life in Hollywood? That he collaborated on musical projects with Pablo Picasso and George Balanchine? That his work subtly espoused deeply held political views and reflected key literary influences? That he was not only interested in the modern communication technologies of his time-sound recording, radio, television, even early computers-but wrote music that echoed their impact? In Experiencing Stravinsky, music historian Robin Maconie takes a fresh approach to understanding this great composer's works, explaining what makes Stravinsky's sound so unique and what we, as listeners, need to know in order to appreciate the variety and brilliance of his compositions. Experiencing Stravinsky is more than just another work of music appreciation. In the author's deft hands, Stravinsky's long musical career is a guided tour through 20th-century history, from Czarist Russia and two world wars to the height of the Hollywood era and the birth of the information age.
Maconie has provided nothing less than an operating manual to getting the most out of Stravinsky's music.
Many casual listeners think of Igor Stravinsky as serious, heavy, and hard-to-understand, but readers may be surprised at how much information is provided in this well-researched book on the composer (1882-1971) about such populist subjects as Hollywood and Walt Disney. Here musicologist and composer Maconie (Avant Garde: An American Odyssey from Gertrude Stein to Pierre Boulez) offers an in-depth, well-documented look at all of Stravinsky's works. (The composer did work closely with Disney on Fantasia and spent years in Hollywood.) Maconie hopes readers will not just listen to but experience the "manufactured" music Stravinsky loved to produce. In fact, the composer relished working with Disney Studios, a film conglomerate that believed animation needed to be choreographed to fit the music, not the reverse. Maconie works hard to place the composer in relation to the world around him. The book includes many quotes from Stravinsky himself, as well as some imagined conversations that keep the text lively. Verdict This accessible book for interested readers features copious footnotes and cited references that make it also a considerable resource for academic study. Library Journal The author uses allusion, analogy, imaginary conversations and quotations from the writings and interviews of the composer to try to understand the major works in the Stravinsky canon. He considers the music from a 'holistic' point of view... It will make a useful addition to the shelves of Stravinsky enthusiasts. Music Web International A magnificent tour de force. -- David Pickett, Fugato.com Wonderful! While other authors have noted Stravinsky's fascination with things mechanical, Experiencing Stravinsky takes this interest as one of its thesis points and is the best coverage of the topic I've read. -- Mark John McFarland, Georgia State University [A] very good read... that I enjoyed it a lot, even where I found myself demurring. -- Roger Savage
Robin Maconie is a composer and musicologist. He is the author of several books on music and philosophy, including Avant Garde: An American Odyssey from Gertrude Stein to Pierre Boulez (Scarecrow, 2012), Musicologia: Musical Knowledge from Plato to John Cage (Scarecrow 2010), and Other Planets: The Music of Karlheinz Stockhausen (Scarecrow, 2005).