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Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

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Stravinsky turns 75



June 3, 1957
Los Angeles

Los Angeles celebrates the 75th birthday of one of its most famous emigre composers with a concert at UCLA and  a party in Beverly Hills. Calling him "the dean of the world's music composers" (recall, for starters, that Dmitri Shostakovich and Aaron Copland are still alive), The Times announces a concert honoring the man who wrote "The Rite of Spring," "The Firebird" and "Petrushka," although none of those works are performed in his honor.

Stravinsky_house Instead, the Los Angeles Music Festival, headed by film composer Franz Waxman, featured "The Symphony of Psalms," conducted by the composer.  The concert at UCLA's Royce Hall also included the U.S. premiere of "Canticum Sacrum" and the world premiere of "Agon," conducted by  Stravinsky's Boswell, Robert Craft, as well as Stravinsky's arrangement of Bach's "Von Himmel Hoch" and "Symphonies for Wind Instruments."   

Stravinsky received a scroll from the City Council and a telegram from President Eisenhower. Aldous Huxley read a tribute praising "the perpetual dawns in Stravinsky's work," The Times said.

One of the large mysteries about Stravinsky's years in Los Angeles is where he lived. A little detective work shows that he had a home at 1260 N. Wetherly Drive in West Hollywood. When I drove over to find it one weekend last year, I ended up talking to a man who had grown up across the street in a house he eventually inherited from his parents. He recalled that as a youngster he met Stravinsky and shared some pleasant little stories. To me that is one of the ultimate L.A. moments.

Photograph by Larry Harnisch Los Angeles Times

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Comments (2)

You can read a bit about Stravinsky's time in LA circa 1960 in the new Warren Zevon bio, "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead." As a young musician, Zevon made a few visits to the master.

Stravinsky's home on Wetherly Drive was not in North Hollywood, but is within the City of Los Angeles city limits.


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