Monday Morning Music: Octet by Igor Stravinsky

There are many wonderful pieces of music throughout the ages. For me, no single piece is better than Octet for Winds by Igor Stravinsky.

Fact: Classical music is filled with amazing pieces. The symphonies of Mahler. The operas of Wagner. Beethoven, Mozart, Strauss, Schoenberg. There are too many works of significant quality by outstanding composers to mention. Leonard Bernstein, Antonin Dvorak, Michael Colgrass. The list goes on and on.

Many will agree that Igor Stravinsky ranks among the best composers in the history of music. His works stretch from solo piano works to massive ballets and symphonies with full choir. While most known for Le Sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring), Stravinsky is noted for the diversity of his works. None displays such diversity more than Octet for Winds.

According to a repertoire note from Boosey and Hawkes, Stravinsky suggests the “Octet began with a dream, in which I saw myself in a small room surrounded by a small group of instrumentalists playing some attractive music .” As a whole, the composition is beautifully constructed of virtuosic play from all instruments, with all collaborating to create delightful and intense music. The piece is at times delicate, then arrogant. Bold, yet mysterious.

It is my personal favorite piece of music, period. The new twist on Classical forms shows Stravinsky’s elite knowledge of composition. His treatment of each instrument is supreme. The Octet by Igor Stravinsky is a piece I can listen to any day.

So, for today’s episode of Monday Morning Music, I present to you my thoughts in the Octet for Winds by Igor Stravinsky. I was first introduced to this piece in 2004 while studying with Robert Ambrose at Georgia State University. The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra featured the composition on a program in 2006. And, I was able to conduct the work at the University of Southern Mississippi in 2011.

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