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Igor Stravinsky (1882 -1971)

Related: succès de scandale - dance - music - Igor Stravinsky - ballet - classical music - 1913

The Rite of Spring

One of the things that's interesting about The Rite of Spring in particular, it seems to be the most treasured piece of the the European canon by jazz musicians, it seems to have always been that way since Ellington, it has basslines, it has this staggering percussion going on. --Greg Tate, Wired Magazine, Feb 2004

Le Sacre du printemps (1913) - Igor Stravinsky

Roerich's 1913 set design for Part I: Adoration of the Earth.

Le Sacre du printemps (English: The Rite of Spring) is a ballet with music by the Russian composer Igor Stravinsky. While the Russian title literally means Spring the Sacred, the English title is based on the French title under which the work was premiered, although sacre is more precisely translated as consecration. It has the subtitle "Pictures from Pagan Russia."

At its premiere on May 29, 1913 in Paris, there were loud arguments in the audience between supporters and opponents of the work. This eventually degenerated into a near-riot. Vaslav Nijinsky's choreography was a radical departure from classical ballet. Different from the long and graceful lines of traditional ballet, arms and legs were sharply bent. The dancers danced more from their pelvis than their feet, a style that later influenced Martha Graham. Although the music and dance were considered barbaric and sexual and are also often noted as being the primary factors for the cause of the riot, many political and social tensions surrounding the premiere were contributing factors as well. Stravinsky himself was so upset due to its reception that he fled the theater in mid-scene. The work is now a standard of dance troupes around the world and has been choreographed by Pina Bausch and Sir Kenneth MacMillan.

Most people will have met the Rite of Spring through Walt Disney's Fantasia, a 1940 animated movie in which imaginative visual images and stories are added to classical music. In 1961, Stravinsky wrote that he received $1,200 (his share of a total $5,000) for the use of his music in the film, explaining that since his music was not copyrighted for use in the USA it could be used regardless of whether he granted permission or not, but that Disney wished to show the film in other countries. In order for the music to follow the animated story concerned, various sections and episodes were presented in a different order from that in which Stravinsky's original score has them. Stravinsky described the performance as "execrable" and thought the segment as a whole "involved a dangerous misunderstanding".

The Rite of Spring is the fourth piece to be played in the film, illustrated by "a pageant, as the story of the growth of life on Earth" according to the narrator. The sequence shows the beginning of simple life forms, evolution up to the dinosaurs, and their eventual destruction. The movie was not considered successful at the time, but has since been hailed as an ambitious and talented use of animation for 'serious' art.

Many subsequent film composers have been influenced by The Rite of Spring and sometimes make indirect references to it; for example, John Williams's theme for the Dune Sea of Tatooine in the original Star Wars soundtrack begins with a permutation of the introduction to Part II of the Rite of Spring.--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rite_of_Spring [Jan 2006]

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