The violin concerto, as we learn from the Wikipedia article, was written in the summer of 1931. There is an interesting note in the article:
Early in the compositional process, Stravinsky devised a chord which stretches from D4 to E5 to A6. One day while he and Dushkin were having lunch in a Paris restaurant, he sketched the chord on a napkin for the violinist, who thought the chord unplayable, to Stravinsky's disappointment. On returning home, however, Dushkin tried it out on his violin and was surprised to discover it was actually quite easy to play. He immediately telephoned Stravinsky to say that it could be played after all. The composer later referred to this chord as his "passport to the Concerto".Well, ok. That is in fact the first thing the violin plays:
But, as Greg House used to say on House, MD, if you're happy, I'm..... (long pause). Which is my convoluted way of saying, I don't really see how this is a passport to anything. The Violin Concerto is certainly in Stravinsky's neo-classical style, which succeeded his earlier what we might call Russian primitivist modernist style typified by the Rite of Spring. Stravinsky's neo-classical style was instigated by a commission from Diaghilev who wanted a ballet score based on the 18th century commedia dell'arte figures and with an 18th-century-flavored score. Stravinsky was originally cool to the idea, but, looking over some manuscripts from the period, he got interested and produced the ballet Pulcinella:
The music is altered with modified phrasing, rhythms, harmonies and cadences, but the 18th century feeling is very clear. As time went on Stravinsky, while still taking older music for inspiration, departed further and further from the models. The first movement of the Violin Concerto, titled "Toccata" (an 18th century genre featuring a lot of free passage-work) shows how he altered the models. The phrases are a montage of fragments and the harmony is clever and unexpected. But the recurring ritornello-like figures function, as they did in the 18th century, as guideposts through the piece. Here is that first movement in a version I choose because it contains the score of the violin part:
And here is the last movement Capriccio, played by Hilary Hahn:
She kind of plays that to death, doesn't she? Stravinsky managed to be perhaps the last really famous, in a broad sense, composer of classical music by writing music, like this, that, while certainly having some modernist "street cred", also has enough traditional musical fabric, both melodic and rhythmic, to be accessible to most audiences. I suppose that Philip Glass and John Luther Adams do too, but they somehow don't quite seem to get over the bar in that they are not nearly as known generally in the way Stravinsky was.