Though some of Stravinsky’s compositions were critically regarded by the public, their failure to appeal to a large audience qualifies them to be classified as avant-garde. With his 1953-1954 popular composition, In Memoriam Dylan Thomas among other famous compositions, Stravinsky’s musical philosophy was that music was nothing more than notes while music composition is more of an expression of logic than one’s passion. Despite his lack of appeal to the audience, Stravinsky was highly regarded by his fellow musicians as one of the leading musical composers of his time. This paper seeks to demonstrate that Igor Stravinsky’s In Memoriam Dylan Thomas qualifies to be categorized as avant-garde music rather than “old guard”/traditional music. Characteristic features of avant-garde music Avant-garde music is not easily definable since the rules applied in its composition, arrangement and performance are required to differentiate it from the classical music. It is generally believed that avant-garde music exhibits a deviation from the mainstream music. As indicated by Pinson, avant-garde musicians can be distinguished by their freedom to choose a musical style that is different from the mainstream, as well as their ability and vision to create and organize music outside the limits of the traditional style (146). Avant-garde music is also defined by its originality and innovativeness as opposed to its popularity and appeal to the audience (Pinson 146). Additionally, avant-garde musicians are believed to have a different identity from that of the traditional musicians, which enables them to incorporate the metaphysical into their style of composition to generate an innovative piece (Pinson 146). The musical composition of avant-garde is often linked to the musician’s identity or other non-musical aspects such as the musician’s philosophies, political ideologies and religion. Despite its linkage with other non-music aspects, avant-garde music does not enjoy massive public acceptance since such music may not be accessed by a large audience. Examining Igor Stravinsky’s musical life and his late works Despite his popularity as a musician in the early 20th century, Stravinsky’s late compositions were relatively ambiguous. As opposed to his earlier compositions, Stravinsky’s late works were rarely performed on stage, poorly recorded, regularly criticized and poorly comprehended by the audience. The poor reception of Stravinsky’s late works such as “In Memoriam Dylan Thomas” is quite ironical to the musician’s growing popularity as a musician. It is apparent that few, if any, contemporary musicians could parallel Igor Stravinsky in terms of stage performances, influence and music recordings as well as popularity mostly in reference to his early Russian cabarets and neoclassical compositions. The poor reception accorded to Stravinsky’s late works is an unusual deviation from the musician’s international popularity. Some aspects about Igor Stravinsky’s musical and life experiences remain mysterious. Over the years, scholars have struggled, albeit with little success, to understand Stravinsky’s works due to its language use, style and transformation from one genre to another. Further ambiguity can be derived from the musician’s personal statements regarding his life, music and the works of his fellow musicians. Though initially believed to be religiously oriented, Stravinsky’ ...
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