“A work so revolutionary it caused a riot”
By Sophie Andreou
Russian composer, pianist and conductor, Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) is one of the most influential and revolutionary composers of the 20th century. Stravinsky’s most famous and controversial work “The Rite of Spring” lead the Modernist movement in music with its shocking abandonment of traditional styles at the time.
First premiered as a ballet in the Theatre des Champs-Elysees in Paris on May 29, 1913, “The Rite of Spring” caused a major outburst in the theatre due to the unconventional rhythms and dissonance throughout the piece. Many high-class musicians and art-goers who attended the premiere took part in the riot; with crowds yelling at the dancers and conductor as well as walking out of the theatre altogether.
The piece transforms audiences into the Pagan Russian ritual of a virgin sacrifice in which the ballet conveys.
Stravinsky was inspired by drawings from the rites provided by archaeologist Nikolai Roeric, which directed him to “hear and write what I heard”. It is a piece of two parts that is a violent contrast to previous music traditions such as lack of rhythmic unity, simple harmonics and predictable ideas.
As a leader in Modern music revolution, Stravinsky ultimately shocked the world with his chaotic composition which no piece of music has done since.
You can have a listen to the score below.