Something about perspective

Igor Stravinsky as drawn by Pablo Picasso in December, 1920

Igor Stravinsky as drawn by Pablo Picasso in December, 1920

When I was eighteen years old, or thereabouts, I was given tickets to a concert of Igor Stravinsky’s music whose conductor was the great composer himself. I didn’t know Stravinsky then; in fact, I think, I knew very little about him except that he wrote the “Rite of Spring” and was deeply, vastly important. And, of course, he was famous.

I invited a friend to go with me that night. She’d never listened to classical music and had never heard of Stravinsky. I guess I hoped I would help broaden her tastes in music.

She slept through most of that evening, and afterward told me what she’d taken away from the experience. She felt sorry for the short unattractive balding and bespectacled man who must have suffered awfully as a child, mocked and bullied by other children. That’s probably exactly what would have happened had he grown up with her in Crow’s Landing, California.

I wish I had known then as I discovered later that Stravinsky may have looked like the unpopular kid in school to my friend, but as an adult in a very glamorous world, he had numerous lovers, most of them real lookers.

It’s amazing how different the world can look from different perspectives.

More recently, at a concert of Russian music, I found out something extraordinary. After half a century of composing some of the most important music of the twentieth century, Igor Stravinsky, at the age of 70 years, tossed aside his work of a half century in order to devise music from a completely different perspective.

Stravinsky, I think, knew something about perspective.

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