Tuesday, May 28, 2013

100 Years Ago Today: Igor Stravinsky's Revolutionary Ballet "The Rite of Spring" Premiers in Paris and Causes a Near Riot

Part 2 of the Rite of Spting - The Sacrifice

One of the most notorious incidents of the 20 century occurred 100 years ago tonight in Paris. The ballet The  Rite of Spring, or La Sacre du printemp, by the great Russian composer Igor Stavinsky premiered in Paris at The Théâtre des Champs-Élysées.  The ballet's subject matter (a virginal sacrifice for the Spring), charged sexual dancing, and fierce, modern music caused a near-riot. The conservative audience was shocked. The audience came close to invading the stage and shutting the performance down.  The catcalls were intense, and the performance and music were attacked in the media.


Igor Stravinsky in front of painting by Matisse

Today, the work is considered one of the greatest artistic achievements of the 20th century, and a defining moment in modernism. The music is absolutely gorgeous. You can read more about the piece and the first performance riot here:

http://www.npr.org/programs/specials/milestones/991110.motm.riteofspring.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2013/may/27/rite-of-spring-100-years-stravinsky

Note that the piece "The Rite of Spring" refers to a two-part ballet, and a three piece orchestral suite that was derived from it and is a bit different.

Here is a great performance of the ballet:



Here is a BBC movie about the first performance and riot:


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