Igor Stravinsky and the Symphony of Psalms

In 1929 the Boston Symphony Orchestra commissioned Russian composer, Igor Stravinsky, one of the most important composers of the first half of the 20th century, to compose a work to celebrate their 50th anniversary — a symphony Time magazine later named the century’s best classical piece.

Stravinsky’s “Symphony of Psalms” was a work in three movements for chorus and orchestra, the last of which is the longest, inspired by Psalm 150: “Praise the LORD! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens . . ." (Psalm 150:1, ESV)

In an interview, Stravinsky said that “The Psalms are poems of exaltation, but also of anger and judgement, and even of curses.”

He even included a section of music in the symphony inspired by 2 Kings, when Elijah’s chariot climbs into the heavens.

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