He wrote prickly, difficult music. He fooled around with jazz. He arranged pieces by Tchaikovsky and Sibelius and Gesualdo in his own manner. He wrote his major opera, "Rake's Progress," here, and he also became increasingly religious, producing profound liturgical scores.
He made a big impression on musicians all over town. Frank Zappa once proposed making an arrangement of the "Rite" for the Mothers of Invention. The jazz musicians who so inspired the beat artists in L.A. were Stravinsky literate.
Take that famous photo of the chess match between the very properly dressed elder Marcel Duchamp and a nude Eve Babitz at the Pasadena Art Museum in 1963 that has become an emblem of PST. Not only had Duchamp attended the famous 1913 premiere of the "Rite" in Paris, which had caused a riot, but the artist's young, buxom Pasadena chess opponent was the daughter of Sol Babitz, a violinist who was a pioneer in the early music movement, another close member of Stravinsky's L.A. circle and an important figure in L.A. musical lore. It's all connected.
The music of his L.A. years is not on the Stravinsky hit parade the way some of his earlier scores are. The more formidable of the later works are unjustly neglected, but they opened new vistas as original and vast as any the visual artists were exploring.
Unfortunately, Monday's Colburn concert didn't give much of a sense of this, relying mostly on engaging small, minor pieces and arrangements Stravinsky had made of his earlier music. It was also discouraging to hear how little feel the students had for Stravinsky, playing him studiously.
There is work to be done. We need to be reminded that the Los Angeles postwar art scene did not come out of the blue. The sun under PST was not black or yellow. It was multi-hued. Even if few of the young artists back then who are the big names of the various PST shows had little or nothing to do with Stravinsky, knew little or nothing about him, PST would have looked different without SST.