Composers - Octets

Go to content

Main menu:

(1882 - 1971)

Igor Stravinsky was born on June 17, 1882, in Oranienbaum, Russia. He rose to fame in the early 1900s for his compositions for the Ballets Russes, including the controversial The Rite of Spring. Stravinsky brought his family to Switzerland and then France, continuing his output with such works as Renard and Persephone. After moving to the United States in 1939, he completed his famed Symphony in C and became an American citizen. Stravinsky died in New York City on April 6, 1971, with more than 100 works to his name.

Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky was born in the resort town of Oranienbaum, Russia, on June 17, 1882. He was raised in St. Petersburg by his  father, a bass singer named Fyodor, and his mother, Anna, a talented  pianist.
Not wanting Stravinsky to follow in their footsteps, his parents persuaded him to study law after he graduated from secondary school. However, after enrolling at the University of Saint Petersburg, Stravinsky became friendly with a classmate named Vladimir Rimsky-Korsakov, whose father, Nikolai, was a celebrated composer. Stravinksy soon became Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's pupil, as he was granted the freedom to pursue his artistic career upon the death of his father in 1902.

In 1906, Stravinsky married Catherine Nossenko, with whom he would have four children. In 1909, the founder of the Ballets Russes, Sergei Diaghilev, invited Stravinsky to orchestrate a couple of Chopin works for his ballet Les Sylphides.
That, in turn, led to the commission of The Firebird; a collaboration with choreographer Michel Fokine, the ballet turned Stravinsky into a household name upon its premiere in Paris in June 1910.
The composer's fame was reinforced with the production of Petrouchka in 1911 and especially with The Rite of Spring, which incited a riot upon its 1913 premiere but was soon hailed for its revolutionary score.
The outbreak of World War I forced Stravinsky to flee Russia with his family and settle in Switzerland. He dealt with his homesickness by using Russian folklore as inspiration for his work, while other compositions from this time exhibited a jazz influence. Two of his best known works from his Swiss period are Renard, composed between 1915 and 1916, and Les Noces, which he started in 1914 but didn't complete until 1923.

In 1920 Stravinsky moved his family to France, where they lived for the next two decades. During that time, his notable works included a comic opera, Mavra (1922), an opera-oratorio Oedipus Rex (1927) and the "white" ballet Apollon Musagète (1928). He continued his prolific output into the 1930s, composing such works as Symphony of Psalms, Persephone, Jeu de Cartes and Concerto in E-flat.

Following the deaths of his wife and a daughter from tuberculosis, Stravinsky moved to the United States in 1939. He delivered a series of lectures at Harvard University, and in 1940 he married artist and designer Vera de Bossett. That year, Stravinsky also finished one of his most  important  works, Symphony in C.
Stravinsky  was nearly arrested for  his rearrangement of the national anthem during a performance in Boston in 1944, but otherwise he found a welcome reception in his new country. He became a U.S. citizen in 1945  after settling in Los Angeles, and went on to enjoy more successes with such operas as The Rake's Progress (1951) and Agon (1957).
After a period of decline in his health, Stravinsky died at his Manhattan apartment on April 6, 1971.

Composer, conductor and teacher: the Hungarian Peter Eötvös combines all three functions in one very high-profile career.  Born in Transylvania in 1944, he has long been considered one of the most significant and influential personalities on the music scene as both an internationally recognized conductor and a composer of successful operas, orchestral works and concertos, written for well-known artists from all over the world. The 2014/16 seasons sees the performances of Eötvös´s new opera Senza sangue, commissionded by the New York Philharmonic and Kölner Philharmonie. Recent premiere include his percussion concerto Speaking Drums, ensemble pieces Dodici and da capo. His new oratorio "Halleluja" will be premiered in Salzburg Festival in  2016, composed on the base of Peter Esterhazy text.

Eötvös  attaches great importance to passing on his extensive knowledge and  experience to others. He taught at the music college in Cologne and  Karlsruhe and gives regular masterclasses and seminars throughout  Europe. He established his  “International Eötvös Institute” in 1991 and the “Eötvös Contemporary  Music Foundation” in 2004 in Budapest for young composers and  conductors.  
In  addition to his roles listed above, Peter Eötvös is regularly  re-invited as guest conductor by the most important orchestras and opera houses.

© Andrea Félvegi
© Andrea Félvegi

Trained internationally (S. Cecilia Academy, Liszt Academy, Hochschule für Musik Mannheim), Alessio Elia was a guest composer and researcher in Hungary at the Liszt Academy in Budapest, the Debrecen State University and the Zoltán Kodály Institute in Kecskemét; in Switzerland at the Sacher Foundation in Basel, and in Norway at the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo, where he was lecturer in composition in 2010.
His music focuses on the physical dimension of sound by tracing the forces that rule and transform it. In this direction he has developed an integration of different tuning systems, he named "polysystemism", presented for the first time at the Cité de la Musique in Paris in 2014.
Articles and essays about his music have been published by von Bockel Verlag, the University of Strasbourg, the Hungarian Academy of Arts and the Conservatory of Italian Switzerland in Lugano.
Elia is the recipient of several prizes, among them the Chigiana Merit Award 2005 for the piece Luminescences and the 1st prize for the piece Rejtett dimenziók (Hidden Dimensions) in the orchestral category of UMZF 2013 (Hungarian Forum for New Music) Competition, in the year dedicated to Ligeti, with Péter Eötvös presiding over the jury.  
In 2016 his orchestral piece Labirynthum continui was awarded a "Leibniz's Harmonies Prize" in Hannover.
Elia received commissions most importantly from I Solisti del Teatro alla Scala di Milano (Octet), piece released in CD by Warner Classics in 2018, conducted by Andrea Vitello and published by Universal Music Publishing - EMB; Radio Bartók (orchestral piece Trasparenze) for the ArTRIUM series of the National Hungarian Radio Orchestra; Alter Ego ensemble (Altered memories) for a project including commissions to Peter Eötvös, Toshio Hosokawa, Peter Ablinger, Lukas Ligeti, László Sáry and Howard Skempton; Impronta ensemble (Traces from Nowhere) for the Oggimusica Festival in Lugano,; UMZE - the historical ensemble founded by Bartók (Ekpyrotic Suicide); Wiener Collage, members of the Wiener Philharmoniker (Outskirts of matter), Antal Dorati Conducting Competition (Distimement for large orchestra) as a complusory piece for the final round of the conducting contest, Stuttgart Kammerchor conducted by Frieder Bernius (Incantesimi di Merseburg).


Albertas Navickas was born in Trakai, Lithuania, and now is based in San Francisco, USA. Since the early age he was interested in music as well as life sciences and currently holds MA in Composition and PhD in Genetics.
Albertas Navickas has participated in various music composition and performance workshops, his works have been performed in contemporary music festivals in Lithuania and abroad. His Blanche t’a vu for four voices and four flutes was selected at the 58th International Rostrum of Composers; his multimedia piece accidental for violin, piano, electronics and video was awarded as the best work of the year 2012 at the annual Lithuanian composers union competition as well as the best multimedia piece at the Viennese Konzerthaus centenary competition. He has also participated in organising the oldest contemporary music festival in Lithuania Druskomanija, Music Laboratory Network The PROCESS (part of the Vilnius European Capital of Culture 2009) and is one of the founders of interdisciplinary performance movement Music Is Very Important. Since 2011 Albertas has been a member of Lithuanian Composers Union.


Rita Ueda is a composer, sound designer, and music teacher in Vancouver, Canada. Her recent works include forty years of snowfall will not heal an ancient forest for the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Escape from the Evil Alien Surfblasters for 8 hand piano ensemble, and Still Shaking from the Latte, a piano solo for Misuzu Kitazumi-Burns, a member of the LA Piano Unit.
Her as the snowflakes return to the sky for string orchestra  was awarded 2nd prize in the 2010/11 International Gustav Mahler  Composition Competition, and has been performed by the  Vienna Radio Symphony and the Vienna Chamber Orchestra.
Rita was born in Hakodate, Japan, to a family of musicians, poets,  dancers and engineers. She moved to Vancouver, Canada with her family in  1971. Rita studied composition and sound design at Simon Fraser  University and the California Institute of the Arts. Her teachers  include Rudolf Komoros, Rodney Sharman, Wadada Leo Smith, Morton  Subotnick and Stephen L. Mosko.

Back to content | Back to main menu