Stravinsky liked to claim in his memoirs that he began to be influenced by modern French music as early as 1897, but this is likely an exaggeration. The New Grove claims that the Scherzo fantastique and Fireworks both show the influence of French music. Despite Stravinsky's own assertions, there is not a shred of evidence to support this view. The available documents show that Stravinsky's earliest exposure to the music of Debussy came on January 22, 1903 when the suite "Pour le piano" was played at an Evenings of Contemporary Music concert. He also had the opportunity to hear Estampes at a March 1904 concert. A month later, in Rimsky-Korsakov's class, Pelléas was discussed and condemned as an example of the decay of music in the West. Stravinsky likely heard the St. Petersburg premieres of both the Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune and Dukas' L'apprenti sorcier in the 1904/5 season. [Taruskin, op. cit. p. 309]
Despite Stravinsky's terming the Prélude premiere and that of two movements of the Nocturnes in December 1907 as "major events of my early years" this again seems to be an exaggeration: the sketches for the Scherzo fantastique, a piece he claimed to show the influence of Debussy, date from the previous summer. Taruskin points out an interesting irony: those composers who were found particularly interesting by composers of Stravinsky's generation were themselves heavily indebted to the Russian composers of Rimsky-Korsakov's generation! This is particularly true of Ravel's Rapsodie espagnole with its Rimskian woodwind cadenzas and rushing octatonic scales. Taruskin offers an example from The Firebird. Stravinsky mentions how proud he was of some orchestration:
For me the most striking effect in The Firebird was the natural-harmonic string glissando near the beginning in the introduction; which the bass chord touches off like a Catherine-wheel. I was delighted to have discovered this, and I remember my excitement in demonstrating it to Rimsky's violinist and cellist sons.This is one of the most striking orchestral gestures in The Firebird. However Stravinsky had "discovered" the effect in Ravel's Rapsodie espagnole where it appears in the viola and cellos six bars into the last movement. And where had Ravel found it? In Rimsky-Korsakov where it appears in the suite from the opera Christmas Eve in the section called "Demonic Carol." (For the musical examples proving this, see Taruskin, op. cit. pp. 212-14.) The Rimsky-Korsakov was performed in Paris in May 1907 in a concert conducted by Rimsky-Korsakov himself. Ravel was in the audience and finished his Rapsodie in February 1908. This is the kind of brilliant archival research that Taruskin excels at! Here is the passage from The Firebird, for the others, see the Taruskin volume:
So why didn't Stravinsky pick up this orchestral device directly from his teacher? A possible answer is that the opera was rather old repertoire dating from 1895 when Stravinsky was studying with him, but the Rapsodie was all the rage when Stravinsky received the Firebird commission.
Taruskin's view is that Stravinsky's early Scherzo fantastique and Fireworks fall well within the magic opera tradition of Rimsky-Korsakov and even stretching back to Glinka. The Scherzo is full of Rimskian harmonic symmetries and sequences and owes nothing, despite Stravinsky's later claims, to Tchaikovsky or Mendelssohn. Stravinsky's own letters provide evidence of the inspiration of the work whose early title was "The Bees." This title was suppressed, likely so as to avoid confusion with Rimsky-Korsakov's extremely popular "Flight of the Bumblebee." The piece was completed in March 1908 and premiered the following year. Let's wrap up this post with a clip of Scherzo fantastique performed by the Frankfurt Radio Symphony conducted by Paavo Järvi: