Igor Stravinsky: Anatomy of Creativity

Creating Minds is one of the most enjoyable as well as one of the most informative books I have ever read. Recently, I re-read it and enjoyed it even more.

I have long admired Howard Gardner’s research on multiple intelligences which he discusses in other works such as Intelligence Reframed (2000), Frames of Mind (1993), and Multiple Intelligences (also 1993). As Gardner explains in the Preface, this volume
“represents both a culmination and a beginning: a culmination in that it brings together my lifelong interests in the phenomena of creativity and the particulars of history; a beginning in that introduces a new approach to the study of human creative endeavors, one that draws on social-scientific as well as humanistic traditions.”

Specifically, this “new approach” begins with the individual but then focuses both on the particular “domain,” or symbol system, in which an individual functions and on the group of individuals, or members of what Gardner calls the “field,” who judge the quality of the new work in the domain.

This is the approach he takes when analyzing the lives and achievements of Freud, Einstein, Picasso, Stravinsky, Eliot, Graham, and Gandhi. Throughout the book, Gardner makes brilliant use of both exposition (e.g. analysis, comparison and contrast) and narration (especially when examining causal relationships of special significance) to reveal, explain, and evaluate each of the seven geniuses.

For example:

“The waning of one’s powers provides no pleasure for anyone, and this is perhaps an especially bitter experience for the creative titans of a century. But Stravinsky dealt as well with aging as any other master of our era, continuing to compose, being personally happy with his wife, and his ‘adopted’ son, Craft, and able to relinquish some of the most combative aspects of a creative life carried on amidst other creative individuals. As a final gesture of peace, he was buried, at his wish, in his beloved Venice, near to [Serge] Diaghilev, with whom he had quarreled a half century earlier, but with whose founding and catalytic genius he wished to be reconciled at the end.”

To learn more about Igor Stravinsky and his work, please click here.

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Howard Gardner is the Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Creating Minds: An Anatomy of Creativity Seen Through the Lives of Freud, Einstein, Picasso, Stravinsky, Eliot, Graham, and Gandhi was first published by Basic Books in 1993 and later reprinted in 2011.

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