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Critical Lives: Pyotr Tchaikovsky and Igor Stravinsky

Image of both Critical Lives books
Wednesday, November 9, 2016 -
12:30pm to 2:00pm
Radcliffe Observatory Quarter, Woodstock Road
St Luke's Chapel


Lunch will be available from 12:30, with discussion from 13:00-14:00. 

Two books will be discussed at this event: Pyotr Tchaikovsky by Philip Ross Bullock, and Igor Stravinsky by Jonathan Cross.

Pyotr Tchaikovsky was gifted with a prodigious work ethic and a commitment to writing music that was as scrupulously crafted as it was artistically inspired. His music struck audiences as supremely communicative and appealed to wealthy and influential patrons, such as Nadezhda von Meck and Tsar Alexander III, as well as Russia’s growing audiences for serious classical music. He became the nation’s leading musical celebrity, performing at the opening of New York’s Carnegie Hall in 1891 and receiving an honorary doctorate from the University of Cambridge in the summer before his death. Yet such success came at a price, and Tchaikovsky found the social obligations that his fame entailed burdensome. 

Igor Stravinsky (1882–1971) was perhaps the twentieth century’s most feted composer, a leading light of modernism and a restlessly creative artist. This book traces the story of Stravinsky’s life and work, setting him in the context of the turbulent times in which he lived. Born in Russia, Stravinsky spent most of his life in exile – and while he swiftly became a cosmopolitan figure, the discomfort of estrangement nonetheless left its mark both on the man and on his work, in the form of an ever-present sense of loss and nostalgia. 

Professor Philip Ross Bullock (Professor of Russian Literature and Music, University of Oxford) and Professor Jonathan Cross (Professor of Musicology, University of Oxford) will discuss their books with Dr Rosamund Bartlett.

This event will be chaired by Dr Kate Kennedy (Weinrebe Research Fellow in Life-writing).

Please click here to book your tickets.


Part of Book at Lunchtime, a fortnightly series of bite size book discussions, with commentators from a range of disciplines.



Open to all