Before tackling the Sacre du Printemps, which would be a long and difficult task, I wanted to refresh myself by composing an orchestral piece in which the piano would play the most important part—a sort of Konzertstück. In composing the music, I had in my mind a distinct picture of a puppet, suddenly endowed with life, exasperating the patience of the orchestra with diabolical cascades of arpeggi. The orchestra in turn retaliates with menacing trumpet-blasts. The outcome is a terrific noise which reaches its climax and ends in the sorrowful and querulous collapse of the poor puppet. Having finished this bizarre piece, I struggled while walking beside Lake Geneva, to find a title which would express in a word the character of my music and consequently the personality of this creature.
One day I leapt for joy. I had indeed found my title—Petroushka, the immortal and unhappy hero of every fair in all countries.
(Igor Stravinsky, An Autobiography)