Robert Craft, Stravinsky's longtime personal assistant, is the source of the rumor and that only heightens doubt: Craft has a new book out about Stravinsky. He has also had a longstanding interest in the ownership of various aspects of Stravinsky's story, even while the composer was alive. Music wags have reacted with skepticism: Maybe it's true, maybe it's not, but we'll need more than Craft's word for it to make us believe it.

"Craft has a track record for reconstructing history," one scholar, quoted in the LA Times, put it.

And there it stands. Until we get more explicit evidence, if we ever do, what we have is a mystery.

If Stravinsky were born today and lived to 2102? Simple: There would be no rumor. His life would be an open book and anyone who was curious would already know the details. No telescoping. No mystery. Just check the data. Case closed before it could be opened.

Living With History

As recording technology clarifies historical events, stripping away layers of fog, it also is changing our understanding of just what history is. It is changing our definition of the word. And other changes are lurking.

In our time, young people seek to identify themselves by aligning with a particular hip subculture: goths, emos, punks, surfers and skaters, each with the appropriate tattoos, clothes, piercings and, most essentially, music.

In a future that sees hundreds of years of history as clearly as it sees its own time, the culture young people will choose as their identity platform could just as easily be in the past.

Now, we occasionally see historically accurate performances of Baroque, Renaissance and Medieval music -- reenactors, as it were. Those are a new development, driven in part by the wide availability of recordings of that music. In the future, we could well see reenactors on every corner, not even aware they are reenacting, blurring the past and the present because the past and present are truly blurred.

In the end, clocks will still turn, people will still live and die as before, lives -- even longer ones -- will still seem too short. But history as we know it will evolve into something more like an eternal now.

-- Written by Carlton Wilkinson in Asbury Park and New York

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