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Critic's Notebook: Stravinsky in L.A.

November 19, 2011 | 11:00 am

It is summer of 1949 and probably hot. Igor Stravinsky, who had moved to L.A. nine years earlier, has a pinched nerve. He is having trouble composing and is hitting the Scotch. He’s 67 and he lives in West Hollywood.

On July 21, he goes the Hollywood Bowl to see Vera Zorina as Joan of Arc. Three days later, he eats lobster in Malibu.

On July 27, Aldous Huxley comes to dinner and the talk includes Joyce, Pound, Baudelaire, bacteria of the ocean depths and the heightening of erotic sensibilities through breathing. Two days later, dinner at Jean Renoir’s.

Aug. 4, Balanchine comes for dinner. Aug. 7, the Balanchines come for lunch. Aug. 10, lunch at the Farmers Market with Huxley and Christopher Isherwood.

Jump ahead 17 years to Nov. 5, 1966. Stravinsky attends a party at Caltech in Pasadena. If I remember correctly, Richard Feynman was on hand. Two months later at a party in New York, Stravinsky runs into Duchamp. "Maestro, see you in another 50 years," the artist says as they part.  

Robert Craft’s “Stravinsky: Chronicle of Friendship” is where to find the vast majority of these tidbits about Stravinsky's life in L.A., where he remained until 1969. Such tidbits can provide a perspective on Pacific Standard Time, on the sheer expansiveness of the L.A. art scene and its cosmopolitan interconnectedness, somewhat differently from what is being shown in the museums and galleries.

And that is the subject of a critic’s notebook on Stravinsky in L.A.


Hearing Stravinsky All Over Again

Philharmonic Series Ends, but Moment Still Belongs to Stravinsky

The farewell to Esa-Pekka Salonen begins at Disney Hall

-- Mark Swed

Photo: Igor Stravinsky at the Hollywood Bowl in 1966. Credit: Frank Q. Brown/Los Angeles Times.