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Stravinsky: The Firebird & The Rite of Spring Resources

Composer study is a great part of any education. We usually pick a composer to study each term.

This term, we are going to hear Igor Stravinsky The Firebird at our local symphony, so I gathered some resources to help us understand and enjoy it more.

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About Igor Stravinsky:

Edward Weston • Igor Stravinsky • 1935
© 1981 Center for Creative Photography via ArtBlart

Igor Stravinsky was described by his friends as looking like “a deeply preoccupied grasshopper.” He also was one to the great twentieth century composers.

He was born near St. Petersburg, Russia in 1882 and grew up in a musical home. Although he went to school to be a lawyer, music was his love and he eventually began writing it.

His great work The Firebird develops as its theme an old Russian legend.

After it was performed in Paris in 1910 it was an overnight success and the first really modern ballet.

Other works include Petrushka, Pulcinella, and Symphony of Psalms.

My music is best understood by children and animals –– Igor Stravinsky

His work The Rite of Spring “set off an earthquake in the musical world.” It had a profound influence on other composers.

In addition, it literally started a riot at one of the first performances.

After the Russian Revolution in 1917, Igor Stravinsky found himself cut off from his Russian supporters and had to make his own way. After WWI he moved to France.

Before WWII his wife, daughter and mother died. He moved to the U.S. after the outbreak of WWII and continued his composing life.

He died in 1971 at the age of 89.

(details taken from The Gift of Music by Jane Stuart Smith and Betty Carlson).

Books about Stravinsky for Kids

Here are some books for kids about Stravinsky and his work:

When Stravinsky Met Nijinsky: Two Artists, Their Ballet, and One Extraordinary Riot

Igor Stravinsky (Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Composers)

Stravinsky and The Firebird


From the Cleveland Orchestra, this children’s book resales the story of the music and includes audio snippets to go along with it. View online.

Ballet for Elephants

Inspired by a true life story, Ballet for Elephants tales the story of “Circus Polka,” choreographed in 1942 by George Balanchine, with music by Igor Stravinsky and performances by John Ringling North’s elephants.

You can listen to the music here:

Listening Guides for Stravinsky

Stravinsky: The Firebird

The Firebird Listening Guide from the Philharmonia Orchestra gives you a great overview of major themes in a 7 minute video.

A fantastic Teacher’s Guide on The Firebird from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.


Another listening guide from The Toronto Orchestra with what to listen for in each section of The Firebird.

Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring

A Teaching Guide from the Minnesota Orchestra for The Rite of Spring and also When Najinsky Met Stravinsky.

The Rite of Spring guide introduced by the Philharmonia Orchestra.

Here is another interactive listening guide about The Rite of Spring.

Learn all about The Rite of Spring from Lumene Learning

Stravinsky: Petrushka

Overview of Petrushka with a scene from the ballet about the “unhappiest puppet story ever.”

Teaching Guide from the New York Philharmonic about Petrushka

A podcast from the San Francisco Symphony on Petrushka

Stravinsky: Other Works

Here is a study guide for The Soldier’s Tale

Here is a listening guide for Symphony of the Psalms from The Guardian and another one here.

Additional Stravinsky Resources

A Cocktail Party Guide to Igor Stravinsky gives you a quick intro to his famous works.

A roundup of BBC radio episodes on Igor Stravinsky.

Still need help? Here is an exhaustive list of music and Stravinsky resources from Homeschool Giveaways.

Looking for More Art and Music Ideas?

5 Famous African American Artists of the Past You Should Know

Guggenheim Museum offers 200 free art books

How to Homeschool with Ambleside Online – And Love It!

Ultimate Guide to Stravinsky pin

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