Weekend Open Thread: A Century Since the Rite of Spring Riot!


This week – two days ago – marks the centennial of a milestone in modern classical music: the Paris premiere of Igor Stravinsky’s controversial ballet Le Sacre Du Printemps, or Rite of Spring.  The combination of barbaric but unpredictable rhythms, discordant harmonies, and primeval melodies – not to mention choreographer Nijinsky’s shocking portrayal of a prehistoric pagan Russian Spring festivity including girls dancing themselves to death – was all too much for the sensitive Frenchies, who took to pummeling each other in the seats and aisles (half of them wanting to hear the music, the other half wanting to drown it out.)

Ever since that fateful May 29, 1913 premiere, the Rite of Spring just sounds better and better, and has inspired countless of us composers to go batshit crazy. Go ahead, crank it up this weekend – it’s better than any rock and roll.   And then let us all know what’s on your mind!

PS – Even the first few seconds was bizarre and shocking to contemporary audiences, with a difficult but expressive bassoon solo way up higher than any bassoon had ever been heard to play before.  Fun fact – you can sing along:  “I’m…. not an English horn;  what am I DOING up here?  I’m not an English horn…”

About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.