By his own account, Igor Stravinsky’s earliest childhood memory was the sound of winter ice cracking on the River Neva. Stravinsky’s music—mercurially pent, formally explosive—sounded a similarly violent and resonant note in the twentieth century. Known for his wide-ranging works, by turns classical and revolutionary, he first made his mark with three dances written for Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes: The Firebird (1910), Petrushka (1911/1947), and The Rite of Spring (1913).

As Charles M. Joseph observes, ninety percent of Stravinsky’s music has been put to work and play in ballets. His The Rite of Spring alone has so far led to more than two hundred dances since the first, Vaslav Nijinsky’s. “I have always had a horror of listening to music with my eyes shut, with nothing for them to do,” Stravinsky wrote. “The sight of gestures and movements of...


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