20th Century Maestro Still Resonates In Santa Fe

Igor Stravinsky conducting at St. Francis Cathedral.

On April 28th Santa Fe’s connection to Igor Stravinsky came together when the Santa Fe Symphony performed the composer’s Symphony of Psalms at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. Stravinsky performed his masterpiece at the same location in 1960. During the five years that Stravinsky had his work performed at the Santa Fe Opera he also performed his compositions at the church. His first performance at the cathedral was Threni on June 12, 1959 followed by the Symphony of Psalms on July 17, 1960. Two years later Cantata was performed on August 19, 1962. Mass, Stravinsky’s last performance, took place on August 18, 1963.

Catholic Church Honors Stravinsky

The Stravinsky plaque inside of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe.

It turned out that the 1963 performance would be the last one for Stravinsky in Santa Fe. It was a fitting farewell for the composer. At the conclusion of Mass he received the Papal Knighthood of St. Sylvester. The highest honor for a lay person by the Catholic Church was bestowed to Igor Stravinsky at the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi. Pope John XXIII conferred the honor to the composer shortly before his death on June 3, 1963.

June 17, 1882 Stravinsky’s Birthdate

Today marks the 140th birthday of Igor Stravinsky. The composer was born on June 17, 1882 near St. Petersburg in Russia. In 1939 Stravinsky emigrated to the United States. Throughout his career he performed in the great cathedrals and opera houses around the world. When John Crosby invited him to perform at the inaugural season of the Santa Fe Opera he became smitten with the high-desert capitol. His opera, The Rake’s Progress, was performed in 1957. Unfortunately, his first performance was cancelled because of rain at the outdoor venue. But the weather didn’t dampen Stravinsky’s enthusiasm for the young opera company. The composer continued working with Crosby attending all of his operas through 1963. Stravinsky’s support during the opera’s formative years solidified its reputation in becoming one of the most respected institutions in the world of opera.

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