Feb 9, 2023
By as early as 1909, composers like Mahler knew that tonality
was reaching its breaking point, and composers like Debussy were
experimenting with colors and ideas a composer like Brahms wouldn’t
have dreamed were possible. Strauss was shocking the world in
his own right with his erotic and disturbing opera Salome.
Mirroring the roiling tensions all over the world, music was
pushing and stretching at its boundaries in ways that it simply
hadn’t before. The years from 1900-1914 were a powder keg for
the world and also for music, and you could argue that Stravinsky’s
Rite of Spring was the musical version of the explosion of that
powder keg. And it still has a profound impact on music
today. So as we go through Part II of the Rite of Spring, The
Sacrifice - the narrative section of the piece - we’ll talk a
little bit more about the riot that took place at its premiere, but
also the reactions to the piece throughout the 20th century.
We’ll also look at the influence the piece had on composers
from all across the musical spectrum. In just 30 minutes
Stravinsky changed the world of music forever and it still causes
controversy today. I once was at a performance of the Rite
where two elderly patrons of the symphony sat behind me. As
one particularly violent section of the piece blasted away, I heard
one of them lean over to the other and say, “If they keep playing
this modern music all the time, I’m cancelling my subscription.”
This took place more than a 100 years after the premiere.
How does a piece remain modern for so long? Are there
any other parallels in musical history? And how does
Stravinsky build a narrative that slowly builds in intensity all
the way to the sacrifice of the young girl and the beginning of
spring? Join us!