Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Rite of Spring: Le Sacre du Printemps: Pictures from pagan Russia in two parts by Igor Stravinsky and Nicolas Roerich.

The Rite of Spring: Le Sacre du Printemps: Pictures from pagan Russia in two parts by Igor Stravinsky and Nicolas Roerich. Paperback book published by Boosey and Hawkes (no date, re-engraved edition 1967), 153 pages with music notation throughout.

I've only ever heard Le Sacre du Printemps performed live the once and that was many many years ago. About half way through that particular performance... or a quarter of the way through... it may have been near the beginning... I had a bit of an epiphany. This is not the sort of thing that happens to me all that often, particularly with a piece of music that I am already fairly familiar with.  Now whenever I hear or read about... or find the score of.... Igor's wonderful work, I am reminded of this revelation.

I'd managed to drag my mother along to see this “modern” masterpiece (it wasn't quite a hundred years old at the time... the music, not my mother) at the Arts Centre in Melbourne. The orchestra was Australian and the programme for the evening wasn't that exciting except for The Rite of Spring which is why we were there. I'll cut to the chase as I don't remember anything else about the concert except that during Le Sacre du Printemps I had a sudden realization that this classical performance had rather briefly morphed into and then out of Jazz. I'd heard/read about the influence Stravinsky had on various Jazz musicians over the years and always thought that it was on the level of an enthusiastic appreciation for his work and then I hear Jazz in the middle of a performance. It was amazing and deeply affected me at the time. My mother... she didn't get it... and then she told me that she would rather not go to any more “modern” music concerts, preferring more traditional forms of classical music.

When The Rite of Spring was first performed in 1913 it caused a bit of furore with some describing the audience reaction as a riot. (I'm sure my mother would have rioted if she could of.) The night I partook, no one rioted. I personally felt the exact opposite to riotus and to this day, I still love this piece of music. The weird thing though is that despite many listens to various recordings, i've never heard what I heard that night all those years ago. I know it was/is there, i've just never been able to find it. If you've never heard Le Sacre du Printemps, I suggest you do... and if by chance you would like to perform it, i've got the score.

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