For music scholar Maureen Carr, there is no doubt: Igor Stravinsky is the most important composer of the 20th century.

The distinguished professor of music at the Penn State School of Music, Carr sees the Russian composer as a daring innovator who pushed the avant-garde with the earthy polyrhythms of The Rite of Spring (1913) and then veered in a seemingly unlikely direction, finding the new in the old with his immersion in neo-classicism. Unlike some composers whose fame rests on just few works or whose inspiration faded later in their lives, Stravinsky managed to sustain his extraordinary creativity for more than 60 years, exploring a vibrant range of musical styles.

“It’s hard to identify,” said Carr, whose books include After the Rite: Stravinsky’s Path to Neoclassicism (1914-1925). “But he has a thumbprint that he imposes on all of his works, where the minute you hear it, you say, ‘That must be Stravinsky.’ ”

A version of this post appeared previously on Sounds and Stories.