Check out Philharmonia’s interactive Stravinsky documentary

Philharmonia released an interactive documentary on Stravinsky to coincide with the ongoing Stravinsky:Myths&Rituals festival at London’s South Bank. It brilliantly illustrates the composer’s life and is well worth a look. It is far more entertaining than the usual encyclopedia entry.

Igor Stravinsky
Igor Stravinsky in 1965. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Opera directors such as Peter Sellars and Esa Pekka-Salonen make an appearance in the documentary.

Stravinsky conducted the London Philharmonia personally in 1965, when he received such a clamorous ovation that he had to put on his coat while still inside the concert hall.

The website displays a scroll-down layout with expandable sections, diagrams, sidebars,  slideshows that, miraculously, don’t freeze the entire page, and more traditional documentary-like video segments narrated by Oxford University professor Jonathan Cross. Depending on what section you are browsing, you get the link for a different performance and date. Here and there, reviews of the premieres of performances and compositions pop up alongside the original sketches of costumes (check out the beautiful drawings of Leon Bakst!).

The Firebird, for example, was hailed as a “marvel of equilibrium” in 1910.

Maps of Europe and the world punctuate the interactive documentary to detail Stravinsky’s various travels. Even though he did not return to Russia for almost 50 years after the outbreak of World War I, his music remains entirely Russian, pervaded by an “unbreakable Russian thread.”