Igor Stravinsky was undoubtedly one of the most influential composers of the 20th century, whose styles covered a huge variety of genres. Born near St Petersburg in 1882, the young Stravinsky first studied piano at the age of nine, and soon began to be taught in composition and music history. By the age of fifteen, he had become an accomplished performer and had composed and arranged a number of pieces. Despite his skills, Stravinsky initially studied law at university, but soon befriended the son of composer Rimsky-Korsakov, soon embarking on composition lessons with the older master.

By 1909, Stravinsky had composed a handful of pieces which were starting to see their first performances. One audience member, the impresario and owner of the Ballets Russes Sergei Diaghilev, was taken by Stravinsky's style and commissioned a ballet from him, which became Stravinsky's first major hit, The Firebird. The success of this led to another ballet, Petrushka, and then the infamous Rite of Spring which created ripples around the world, and has gone on to become one of the most influential pieces of all time. Stravinsky's later life saw him embrace a number of different styles, including jazz, neoclassicism, and serialism. He moved to the USA in 1939, becoming a naturalised citizen in 1945. He lived the rest of his life in the USA, continuing to compose, though more frequently appearing as a conductor. He died in 1971 at the age of 88.

Double Bass