Igor Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring.”
Ballet Number 3.
The ballet has its origins in a strange vision while he was working on his first ballet “The Firebird.”
“I saw in imagination, a solemn pagan rite, wise elders seated in a circle watching a young girl dance herself to death. They were sacrificing her to propitiate the god of spring.”
“Those who think of spring in terms of daffodils, cherry blossoms, bunny rabbits and birdsong tend to be disconcerted by the amount of violence, even savagery in “the rite.” One clue to it can be found in Stravinsky’s answer to being asked in old age…what he had loved most about his native Russia. He replied: ‘The violent rushing spring that seemed to begin in an hour and it was like the whole earth cracking. That was the most wonderful event of every year in my childhood.’
Stravinsky also described the amazing, awesome sound as the thick ice of Russia’s deep frozen rivers breaks up. Not an earthquake but an icequake.”
The words you have just read made a profound impact on me when I heard them. I had listened to Igor Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring” several times before and was a fan from the moment I heard it.
The words ‘savage rhythms’ were used to describe this piece and immediately I was more in love with this piece.
Several years later which was a few days ago I saw on my Spotify something called:
Classics Explained: Stravinsky – The Rite of Spring
Its written and recorded by Jeremy Siepmann and he does a fine job narrating it as he did writing it.
I didn’t even know this existed on Spotify. It now has my full attention and have plans to listen to the one about Beethoven next. I wonder if all the composers are in there.
A while back I read parts of “The Lives of the Great Composers.”
Then I listened to an audiobook titled..”Living Biographies of Great Composers.”
If you love classical music like I do and are fascinated by these composers give those books a listen…
But first…Listen to this…
And check out the massive orchestra.
The music and the choreography both, incited a Riot.
In May of 2013, Ivan Hewitt, a classical music critic wrote the following piece in his article on BBC News. Heres an excerpt that I found supremely interesting:
The young Stravinsky had taken Paris by storm in previous seasons. His Petrushka, the year before, had been a massive hit. “There is no question at all, he was a star,” says Walsh. But compared with the Rite of Spring, “Petrushka was not such a forbidding score, by any means.”
Stravinsky himself said that when he first played the beginning of the Rite, with its dissonant chords and pulsating rhythm, to Serge Diaghilev, the founder of the Ballets Russes, Diaghilev asked him a “very offending” question: “Will it last a very long time this way?” (Stravinsky replied: “To the end, my dear.”)
So the music was as startling as the strange jerky movements of the choreography. Esteban Buch argues that you cannot separate the impact of one from the other. What upset people, he thinks, was “the very notion of primitive society being shown on stage”.
When I listen to it, the piece reminds me of Heavy Metal. Its violent, aggressive, awesome in its nature. Its also eerie, creepy and downright savage. Arguably my favorite piece of classical music I’ve ever heard.
I like the dark stuff.
It helps me get through my day.
It helps me get through those nights.
If you can, pick a time to listen to this whole piece distraction free.
Listen to “The Rite of Spring” Distraction Free.
If you like dark music or are just awed by the music that these composers wrote you will absolutely not be disappointed.
Here is the man himself. Igor Stravinsky.
Here’s another quote:
The sounds, coupled with the sight of the dancers’ onstage depiction of fertility rites, incited an unrest and agitation in the audience that grew into a full-scale riot. It started from the very beginning: The harmonization of the bassoon’s signature riff caused catcalls and whistling, then fights broke out in the audience as the turbulent rhythms began.