On May 29, 1913, one hundred years ago, Igor stravinski premiered The Rite of Spring. This was supposed to be the ballet concert of the year and all of the best of Paris society was in attendence; the music was so new and raw that after a couple minutes the audience began make catcalls and whistles but then they rioted. Yes, the audience rioted in the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris, smashed up the place, beat each other bloody and actually moved out into the streets - the riots continued for 3 days.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:NikolaiRoerichRite1.jpg

One year later, the production was greated with great acclaim and Stravinski was carried victoriously through the streets of Paris. In 1940, The Rites of Spring was included in Fantasia as part of a children's musical piece.

This is an exageration (the riots were not that bad) but the musical concepts were new and, for the time, very disturbing. But even the Disney version is disturbing and brings to mind the much later animation for Ravel's Bolero - which is what the animator Bruno Bozzetto meant for us to see but is not as apparent until you view The Rite of Spring after seeing Bolero - with the 'monkey-man' appearing. Ravel's Bolero was commissioned to be a part of a ballet called Fandango - the scene was a smokey cantina with the basoon danced by the 'prima balerina' and the other instruments would emerge from fog/smoke for their part and then recede back into the fog/smoke. The premier was greeted with cheering, shouting and the stamping of feet - it was loved immediately. It was reported that a woman was heard to shout "the madman, the madman"; when told of this, Ravel replied "that lady, she understood". He thought Bolero was one of his least important pieces but it is what he is remembered for.

As a side note, one of Ravels drinking buddies was a world class pianist who drafted to fight in WWI and was shot in the arm and taken prisoner by the Russians. His right arm was amputated. This was Paul Wittgenstein (his brother is Ludwig Wittgenstein the philospher). Paul was pretty depressed since he had expected to have a career as a pianist but he did not give up; he begged the big name composers of the day (Richard Strauss, Benjamin Britten, Sergei Prokofiev, Paul Hindemith, and the French composer, Maurice Ravel) to write something that would showcase his talent. Ravel was the only one who responded - he wrote 2 pieces for left handed pianists. They are so taxing that most 2-handed pianist who try it cheat by grabbing onto the right side of the piano to drag themselves from one side of the piano to the other.

but I digress

I hope I did not bore you.

Edited by GrimJack: cleaned up some stuff

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Last Post by GrimJack

Interesting history post. Thanks for the information. Off topic kinda but I wish more people would just stop what they are doing for 5 minutes and just observe. Observe the society, observe the body languages, observe the human interaction, observe nature and its wonderful mathmatical creation, observe people and their talents,and just appreciate life and its wonderful glory. Its beautiful.


In Russian it is, if literally, "The Spring Sacred".
Btw, I noticed that almost all great American jazzmen were crazy about Stravinski's music.


Interesting post. I recall an episode of M*A*S*H many years ago where a soldier who was once a concert pianist suffered nerve damage to his right hand and became depressed at the loss. Major Winchester introduced him to the Ravel left-handed pieces giving the same explanation that you did.


firstperson: yeah - even better close your eyes turn off everything, unplug everything and listen carefully. I was going to go into a rant about the 8th cranial nerve but it is hard to tell the interference noise from that 60 cycle hum that is everywhere.

Edited by GrimJack

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