“… I was struck by something [Stravinsky and Picasso] really do share. Stravinsky’s musical conversations were with the past – with Bach, Verdi, Tchaikovsky, Monteverdi, Pergolesi, Mozart and Russian folk music – and it was the way he refracted these models through the prism of his thick, modernist glasses that defines so much of his music. Similarly, […] Picasso’s main source of inspiration was the great traditions of El Greco, Velázquez, Delacroix, Manet, Poussin and Van Gogh, precisely the styles of painting that many of his contemporaries thought he was so violently rupturing.
That was never true for either Stravinsky or Picasso: instead of doing violence to the past, they wanted to be thought of as part of the musical and artistic canon. There’s a hubris in this as well, as if the only people who could measure up to them were the old masters rather than any of their contemporaries. Both of them knew how good they were, and both self-consciously positioned themselves as the ne plus ultra of modernity.”