Fyodor Ignatievich Stravinsky (Russian: Фёдор Игна́тиевич Страви́нский), 20 June [O.S. 8 June] 1843, in Golovintsy, Minsk Governorate – 4 December [O.S. 21 November] 1902) was a Russian bass opera singer and actor of Ukrainian-Lithuanian descent. He was the father of Igor Stravinsky and the grandfather of Soulima Stravinsky.
Life and career
His father Ignacy was a Catholic and came from a noble family of Sulima-Strawiński[a]; his mother, Alexandra Ivanovna Skorokhodova, was a daughter of a Russian small landowner. Fyodor was baptised in accordance with the Orthodox rite due to Imperial Law which stated that children born of mixed Catholic-Orthodox marriages had to be brought up in the Russian Orthodox faith.
In 1869 he completed his education at the Nezhin Lyceum, where he sang in the church choir. He studied voice at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory from 1869–73. He later studied with Camille Everardi in Kiev.
Stravinsky started his solo singing career in Kiev, Ukraine (1873–76) before moving to Saint Petersburg, where he sang at the Mariinsky Theatre for 26 years, from 1876 to 1902. He was hailed as the successor to Osip Petrov, he was renowned for his outstanding dramatic talent as an actor, and he was considered the leading bass at the Imperial Opera. He was admired for the depths of his psychological insights and his mastery of stagecraft.
Stravinsky created a number of roles in operas by Tchaikovsky:
- His Royal Highness in Vakula the Smith in 1876
- Dunois in The Maid of Orleans in 1881
- Mamirov in The Enchantress in 1887.
He also appeared in the premiere performance of Nikolai Soloviev's Cordelia (24 November 1880, St. Petersburg), and created the role of Moroz (King Frost) in Rimsky-Korsakov's opera The Snow Maiden (1882; his son Igor studied under Rimsky-Korsakov).
Stravinsky was also known as an active advocate of the music by Ukrainian composer Mykola Lysenko, often performing the role of Mykola in the opera Natalka Poltavka. Fyodor also posed as a Ukrainian Cossack for Ilya Repin's famous painting Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks to Sultan Mehmed IV of the Ottoman Empire. He was a big fan of Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko and collected his books and publications, a lot of which he knew by heart. He had a large book collection of other Ukrainian writers such as G. Kvitka-Osnovianenko, I. Kotliarevsky, and P. Kulish.
Among his great successors were Feodor Chaliapin and Lev Sibiriakov. Fyodor Stravinsky died in 1902 and was buried in the Artist's Cemetery in the Alexander Nevsky Monastery in Saint Petersburg.
His memoirs are said to be invaluable. He also had a unique library which was very popular among bibliophiles.
- Igor Stravinsky, Robert Craft, Memories and commentaries, University of California Press, 1981, p. 17
- Roman Vlad, Stravinsky, Cambridge University Press, 1978, p. 3
- Scott Lubaroff, An examination of the neo-classical wind works of Igor Stravinsky: the Octet for winds and Concerto for piano and winds, E. Mellen Press, 2004, p. 5
- "Soloviev, Nikolai Feopemptovich" in Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 5th ed.
- Cherkasska, Hanna. "Fedir and Igor Stravinsky". UAHistory.
- Lysenko, I. A, Dictionary of Ukrainian singers. Kiev, 1997