About the piece
Stravinsky’s piece is based on a Russian folk tale about a magical glowing bird that Prince Ivan is searching for. The firebird is imprisoned in a castle with a beautiful princess. Ivan rescues the bird and the princess – but then his own sister poisons him and the princess. Luckily the firebird flies to the fountain of youth and, using magic water, brings Prince Ivan and his beloved princess back to life by lifting the curse. The music here is magical and sends our imagination flying. Listen to how the simple theme, heard first played by a solo French horn, is played by different combinations of instruments as the music moves towards its rousing climax. Ballets are stories told using dance and music – a magical musical poem. This piece was written for a large orchestra and, by the end, you can hear them all playing.
About the composer
Igor Stravinsky was born in Russia in 1882, worked in Paris in the early 20th century and then moved to America where he died in 1971. He is one of musics most original composers. From his first great success (The Firebird ballet first performed in Paris in 1910) to his last works, he changed the very way music could be written, enhancing its rhythms, melodies, harmonies and how an orchestra can sound.
Igor Stravinsky on the Ten Pieces website
More resources for Igor Stravinsky from the Ten Pieces pages on the BBC website.
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