Saturday, March 22, 2014

Saturday Night At The Liberal Curmudgeon: Stravinsky's "The Rite Of Spring"

When Igor Stravinsky's (right) "The Rite of Spring" was first performed in Paris on May 29, 1913, the avant-garde work was so shocking that it caused a riot. Now we recognize it as one of the greatest classical compositions of the 20th century. Leonard Bernstein, in fact, called it the century's most important piece of music. One century later, it still sounds startling, bold and modern. Above, the New England Conservatory Philharmonia performed this masterpiece under director Hugh Wolff in Boston on April 24, 2013.


Michael J. Mand said...

Without a doubt, "The Right of Spring" is one of the greatest pieces of music ever written.
Excerpted and adapted from liner notes by Edmund White (Time Life Records): It was originally commissioned as a ballet, but it never really succeeded as "dance" music - by Stravinsky's own admission. He preferred concert performances of his masterpiece. Very little music tradition lay behind ROS.

Stravinsky: "I had only my ear to help me. I heard, and I wrote what I heard. I tried to capture the primal force of springtime; the violent Russian spring that seemed to begin in an hour and was like the whole earth cracking."

Edmund White: "The result was a revolutionary score full of dissonance, innovative rhythmic variations, untraditional and often noisy orchestration (in which the large percussion section plays a vital part) and short, sometimes unmelodic themes consisting of only four different notes."

My observations: ROS is a great example of why a Stravinsky orchestra seems to require more musicians than, say, Beethoven orchestra.

Jeff Tone said...

Stravinsky's and White's comments comments are eloquent and insightful. I wouldn't know whether Stravinsky requires more musicians than Beethoven.