Watch Igor Stravinsky figure out a new piece

Watch Igor Stravinsky figure out a new piece


norman lebrecht

December 25, 2020

In 1957, NBC broadcast this portrait of Stravinsky, in conversation with Robert Craft.

‘You need to feel the vibration’.



  • Larry says:

    Hard to believe that there was a time in America when a major TV network would offer such a program.

    • Dan P. says:

      There was also such as a thing called the NBC Opera Theater. Can you imagine? But that was in the early 1950s when TV was in its infancy in the US.

      • Larry says:

        Yes, I know all about that. It was NBC who commissioned “Amahl and the Night Visitors” from Menotti and aired it every December for a number of years. Imagine going to a network head today and saying: “Why don’t we commission an original opera for children?” You’d be thrown out in two seconds.

    • J Barcelo says:

      General David Sarnoff at NBC wasn’t particularly in love with classical music, but he recognized the important of TV and Radio in improving the cultural climate and his responsibility to do something about it. NBC sponsored Toscanini. But CBS did a lot, too – long gone are the Bernstein Young People’s Concerts. Sadly PBS, which is funded in part with taxpayer money, rarely broadcasts opera or classical concerts, either.

    • Petros Linardos says:

      The same US network sponsored a full symphony orchestra for a legendary conductor: unthinkable ever since.

  • Dan P. says:

    That’s Agon, no?

  • Edgar Self says:

    Profoundly impressive and moving, for me. Stravinsky here “on the eve of his 75th birthday is so open, simpatico, and direct. His voice, too, though that shouldn’t be such a surprise, as his father wa a famous Russian operatic bass as he mentions. But who was the artist he said he loved, pointing to his photo in profile on the wall behind him? I couldn’t catch the name.

    Many, many thanks, Norman. This is one of the best things you’ve shown u here. It reduces me to silence, which ought to happen more often. And now we can say we have heard Stravinsky play Beethoven, even if just one note.

  • Ashu says:

    Robert Craft looks incredibly like Robert Lowell, but I guess in those days a large proportion of white American men did, more or less.

  • David K. Nelson says:

    Interesting that this should have been on NBC and not CBS which was linked to his Columbia record label (he had recorded for Victor which was linked to NBC but that was in the past).

    Craft sounds somewhat stilted and scripted, Stravinsky, not.

    How interesting to hear, and not just read, his clear memories of such as Rimsky-Korsakov and Serge Diaghilev. And the importance he attaches to Apollon musagète.

    Always curious to see a book collection of someone such as this and I see his Dylan Thomas portrait was next to two books by Baudelaire, including “Intimate Journals.”

    • John Borstlap says:

      The ‘recollection books’ by Stravinsky/Craft have almost certainly been ghostwritten by Craft who poured his intellectual, cool sophistication over S’s probably much more rough utterances. Craft presented Stravinsky as the composer he wished him to be: an intellectually-astute, brilliant man, which he was not.