For Eugene Istomin, Igor Stravinsky was undoubtedly the greatest composer of the 20th century. He acquired the complete recorded edition which was conducted or supervised by Stravinsky himself, and made a point of listening to the entire set. He shared this admiration with his friend David Oppenheim, whom he had encouraged to make his famous documentary on Stravinsky for CBS. The initiative came from Stravinsky himself, who had just watched the film Oppenheim had devoted to Casals (Casals at 88) and had liked it.
Stravinsky by Giacometti
This was in 1965, when Istomin had just added Igor Stravinsky’s Sonata to his repertoire. He had not dared to disturb the composer by seeking his advice, but turned instead to his son, Soulima Stravinsky, who was teaching at the University of Illinois and who had worked on the Sonata with his father.
In 1968, Istomin wrote to Stravinsky, asking him to join the Arts & Letters Committee which supported Hubert Humphrey as the Democratic candidate in the presidential elections. Stravinsky politely replied that he preferred Eugene McCarthy, who seemed more radically opposed to the continuation of the war in Vietnam. Istomin’s admiration was also expressed by the acquisition of a portrait of Stravinsky sketched by Alberto Giacometti in Paris in 1957.