Schoenberg had died in July 1951, at the age of seventy-six. Schoenberg and Stravinsky were considered the two pillars of 20th-century music, which led to competition and mutual disdain between their respective adherents.
Although they were both residing in southern California, they did not go out of their way to visit each other, and in fact have not met since 1912. Their understanding of each other's music was shallow, although both composers had heard the other's work.
Stravinsky launched a volley with his dismissal of those who tried to write `the music of the future' in an interview with Musical America, a remark which Schoenberg took rather personally. In turn, Schoenberg did not approve of Stravinsky's Piano Sonata, which he heard Stravinsky play in Venice in September 1925, and made fun of it in his Three Satires, op.28.
By the time Craft moved in with Stravinsky in 1948, Stravinsky had developed a deep-rooted prejudice against Schoenberg's music, which he considered rigid and abstract. Nonetheless, he could not conceal his interest in it, although he would not express it explicitly. Craft was virtually the only one of Stravinsky's students who had an understanding of Schoenberg and his student Anton Webern's music. He had conducted their work often and was uninhibited by the politics in Stravinsky's circle, which prevented them from mentioning it.
In time, Stravinsky took the elements of serial music and blended it with his own musical style. Unlike Schoenberg and Webern, Stravinsky was not anxious to avoid any suggestions of a tonal center. In fact, his treatment of the twelve-tone sequences was intended to generate a melodic feeling. For example, his Cantata of 1951-52 includes the long central carol `Tomorrow shall be my dancing day' with hardly a hint of the underlying serial structure.
His voyage into serial music culminated in the composition of his final work, the Requiem Canticles.
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