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Exploring the often surprising links between concepts, themes and people in classical music, from medieval to modern


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Saturday, March 18, 2017 Permalink

The Firebird Connection

Detail from a 19th century Russian lacquer box


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 career.


Title Group/Artist Catalog # UPC
Stravinsky: Firebird Suite Brussels BRT Philharmonic Orchestra, Alexander Rahbari  Naxos 8.550263 730099427425
Balakirev: Symphony No. 2/Symphonic Poems USSR State Symphony Orchestra, Evgeni Svetlano Hyperion CDA66586 672487101268
Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade Chicago Symphony, Fritz Reiner RCA Red Seal 82876-66377-2 828766637724
Rimsky-Korsakov Suites Scottish National Orchestra, Neeme Jarvi Chandos 10369(2) X 095115136928
Works of Igor Stravinsky [Symphony in E flat] Columbia Symphony Orchestra, Stravinsky Sony 88697103112-08 886971031126
Stravinsky: The Firebird, etc. [“Fireworks”] London Symphony Orchestra, Antal Dorati Mercury Living Presence 432 012-2 028943201223
Stravinsky: The Firebird Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Simon Rattle EMI Classics 724358553826 724358553826

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