Skip to comments.Rite that caused riots: celebrating 100 years of The Rite of Spring
Posted on 05/29/2013 6:20:53 AM PDT by Borges
Stravinsky's work caused a scandal in 1913 but has since been recognized as one of the 20th century's most important pieces.
The audience, packed into the newly-opened Théâtre des Champs-Élysées to the point of standing room only, had neither seen nor heard anything like it.
As the first few bars of the orchestral work The Rite of Spring Le Sacre du Printemps by the young, little-known Russian composer Igor Stravinsky sounded, there was a disturbance in the audience. It was, according to some of those present who included Marcel Proust, Pablo Picasso, Gertrude Stein, Maurice Ravel and Claude Debussy the sound of derisive laughter.
By the time the curtain rose to reveal ballet dancers stomping the stage, the protests had reached a crescendo. The orchestra and dancers, choreographed by the legendary Vaslav Nijinsky, continued but it was impossible to hear the music above what Stravinsky described as a "terrific uproar".
As a riot ensured, two factions in the audience attacked each other, then the orchestra, which kept playing under a hail of vegetables and other objects. Forty people were forcibly ejected.
The reviews were merciless. "The work of a madman sheer cacophony," wrote the composer Puccini. "A laborious and puerile barbarity," added Le Figaro's critic, Henri Quittard.
It was 29 May 1913. Classical music would never be the same again.
(Excerpt) Read more at guardian.co.uk ...
I have heard some pretty gruesome modern works of “classical music” in my day, but I never felt the urge to RIOT over it! LOL!
I’m really not much of a fan of 20th century “classical” music.
But I LOVE the Rite of Spring. Truly a work of incredibly inspired genius.
My favorite recording of it is the one by Pierre Boulez and the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra.
You haven’t lived until you’ve heckled a tenor having a rough day at Teatro alla Scala. :)
Rite of Spring is fine, but I don’t think there’s been much since 1913 to get excited about. The pieces written now are movie scores which are typically modeled after 19th century Romanticism, if I’m not mistaken.
I have heard that there is a big sale in the produce market on debut days.
“Is not riot, da? Is MOSH PIT!”
I can see why it would.
I actually like the music better than the “Choreography”, which looks like a lot of knee bending, squats, and leg spreading. LOL.
Probably “Innovative” and “groundbreaking”, but just not my cup of tea.
It’s just about never performed as a ballet these days. Just the music.
Well, there hasn't been a LOT... but, Copeland wrote some nice works...
And, there's been an explosion of EXCELLENT choral writing.
The “Ballet” actually detracts from the music (which I Like!).
Of course, others may disagree with me, but that is OK because we are talking about the Arts, which is totally based on Opinion. Everybody has one! LOL!
Rachmaninof: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, 1934
Poulenc: Gloria, 1961
Samuel Barber: Adagio for Strings, 1936
These come to mind immediately.
Actually, “cacophany” is accurate, yet fascinating. The intro invokes nothing more than the orchestra warming up before a play. Stravinsky uses that sense of anticipation and emergence as an auditory metaphor for the dawn.
Arthur Rubinstein was 24 years old the night he attended the premiere of “The Rite of Spring” in Paris. Near him in the audience was a man who was so outraged at what he was seeing and hearing that he beat his fists on the bald head of the man sitting in front of him. The owner of the bald head was so outraged that he was unaware that somebody was beating on his head.
I see your point. :)
It’s so easy for modernists to sneer at the notion of being angered by truly brilliant music. I’m more impressed if they can appreciate why music such as this was so dangerous and outrageous; if they can’t, they can neither appreciate why this music is so brilliant.
For centuries, classical music was the domain of the truly civilized, the cultivated. Beauty meant engineering, design, perfection, tradition. Before quantum mechanics and chaos theory, science was set about reducing the secrets of the universe to clock-like predictability. Although this fact has been forgotten, and nature itself emasculated, nature always strives to kill you, as anyone who has actually dwelt in nature, as opposed to merely looking at pictures of polar bears, would know.
Stravinsky found the beauty in the wild, in the creative destruction, in the unplanned, in the chaotic. In doing so, classical music would never be the same. And those who loved what it had been were rightfully alarmed.
The Western church adorned Easter with gold; the Eastern church to which Stravinsky belonged adorned it with live trees. To understand how enormous this social gulf was, understand that the English word, “green” comes from the French word, “grey,” (”gris,” which is pronounced, “gree”) and signifies not life, but death. Green meant the reclamation by the natural (un-Christianized) world through death; but to the East it mean the return to God.
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