Kill the Violin Section

Today is the 100th anniversary of Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring”. I’ll assume that most readers have never heard (or barely heard) of it. This was a ballet and orchestral work. Stravinsky was one of the early avant-garde classical composers and this is a classic work. I was about to write that most readers would not like this music, but frankly most readers don’t like highly accessible classical music, so that’s not a profound statement.

But I think this is:

When first performed, … the avant-garde nature of the music and choreography caused a sensation and almost a riot in the audience

Think about that. It’s 1913. You are at an orchestral ballet performance. You are probably dressed in full formal attire. Had a nice dinner before. All the best of the best are in attendance.

And a riot almost breaks out. Seriously, think about that.

This isn’t Rhianna showing too much skin in a country that doesn’t like that. This is a classic music performance in Paris where they love classical music.

And it almost caused a riot. Mind boggling.

It’s worth listening to just for that fact (you’ll often see it as Le Sacre du Printemps, the French translation). And if you aren’t used to modern classical music (“modern” in the classical music sense means post 1900) it will be somewhat jarring.

But a riot?

Anyway, Stravinsky was brilliant, but not that accessible to most folks so you may have to take my word for it. Russian born, moved to Paris and then the US. No modern (in our sense of the word) classical composer was not influenced by Stravinsky.

So this is the 100 year anniversary of a brilliant musical debut that nearly caused a riot. That sentence may never be written again.


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