New Stravinsky book continues to stir controversy

Posted on: July 23, 2013

In Thursday’s (7/18) Los Angeles Times, Rick Schultz reports on the controversy surrounding the new book Stravinsky: Discoveries and Memories by conductor Robert Craft, the composer’s longtime assistant. The book posits that Stravinsky “had several homosexual affairs—including one with Maurice Ravel—during the years he composed his three great ballets, ‘The Firebird’ (1910), ‘Petrushka’ (1911) and ‘The Rite of Spring’ (1913). If true, Craft’s revelations pose tantalizing questions about Stravinsky’s sexuality as it relates to his art.” Schultz reports that Craft’s assertions “have prompted criticism from some scholars,” and writes, “the purported affair with [Belgian composer Maurice] Delage is based on a letter from October 1912, in which Stravinsky appears to pine for Delage and ‘that little pavilion which silently guards the memories of our compatible life of a year ago.’ Craft writes that ‘the bombshell of this love letter is the discovery that Stravinsky’s principal bisexual experience occurred during “The Rite of Spring,” widely regarded as the epitome of masculinity in music, and comparable to Wagner.’ This is not the first time Craft has been at the center of controversy. Stephen Walsh, a professor at Cardiff University in Wales and author of a well-received two-volume biography of the composer, wrote in an email that ‘Craft has a track record of reconstructing history.’ … Walsh could not find evidence of any affairs with men.” 

Posted July 23, 2013