A Creative Spring: Russia and France, 1882-1934
University of California Press, 9780520227491, 722pp.
Publication Date: January 6, 2003
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In this revealing volume, the first of two, Stephen Walsh follows Stravinsky from his birth in 1882 to 1934. He traces the composer's early Russian years, laying bare the complicated relationships within his family and showing how he first displayed his extraordinary talents. Stravinsky's brilliantly creative involvement with the Ballets Russes is illuminated by a sharp sense of the internal artistic politics that animated the group. Portraying Stravinsky's circumstances as an emigré in France trying to make his living as a conductor and pianist as well as a composer, Walsh reveals the true roots of his notorious obsession with money. He also describes the nature of his long affair with Vera Sudeykina.
While always respecting Stravinsky's own insistence that life and art be kept distinct, Stravinsky makes clear precisely how the development of his music was connected to his life and to the intellectual environment in which he found himself. But at the same time it demonstrates the composer's remarkably pragmatic psychology, which led him to consider the welfare of his art to be of paramount importance, before which everything else had to give way. Walsh, long established as an expert on Stravinsky's music, has drawn upon a vast array of material, much of it unpublished or unavailable in English, to bring the man himself, in all his color and genius, to glowing life.