The Firebird Connection


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Long before Igor Stravinsky’s celebrated ballet of 1910, the Firebird legend had for years haunted Russian art and music.

Long before Igor Stravinsky’s celebrated ballet of 1910, the Firebird legend had for years haunted Russian art and music as a figure of irrepressible and unattainable beauty.

In fact, Stravinsky’s teacher, the composer Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov, wrote of a failed attempt in the 1860s by his own teacher, Mily Balakirev, to produce a musical treatment of the Firebird legend--a work now lost.

Well, not quite….

In this hour, how Balakirev used his unfinished Firebird as the basis for a new work that would chart a different direction for Russian music — one that would inspire Rimsky-Korsakov and others — and a half century later, launch Stravinsky’s amazing five-decade career.