Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Rite of Spring

Last night, my wife and I had the chance to hear the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra perform my favorite symphonic piece of all time, The Rite of Spring (Le Sacre du printemps) by Igor Stravinsky.

There is no single composer I enjoy more that Stravinsky. I love the The Fire Bird, Petruska, the Ebony Concerto, and The Rite of Spring, especially.

I don't have a favorite book, a favorite movie, a favorite band, but I do have a favorite symphonic piece and this is it.

The Rite of Spring is a piece that tells a story, and the story is of Pegan Russia, where in order for spring to a rise a young female must be chosen before the sage and dance to death.

The Rite of Spring premiered in 1913 in Paris as a ballet, and apparently it was hated by most who attended. I think more than anything, they were probably surprised because within the next couple years, this bizarrly dissounant and often times very harsh and primitive sounding.

And yet, really the peice is full of paradox. The story the music tells is sad, and happy. It is the story of sacrifice for a greater good. So there is joy and sadness. Which makes it tell such an emotional story. How greatly are we touched by the sacrifice of others, even at their own personal loss? Is this not why we are touched by movies like Schindler's List and the Passion of the Christ?

In this mood, the music is incredibly dynamic, it's loud and soft, it's surprising and subtle. It's dark and it is flowery. The music is textured in it's irregular times signitures, it's instrumental diversity (Contra bassoons, alto flutes, E flat clarinets, piccolo trumpets, 13 part string arrangements, etc).

Have long wanted to hear this piece performed live in it's entirety and last night, I had the opportunity at Bass Performance Hall. I wonder if some of the audience felt like 1913 Paris crowd and wondered where they were, or what spectacle they were hearing? Yet, to me, I have listened to this piece countless times and felt honored to hear it masterfully performed.

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High Power Rocketry said...

Great music, but I prefer the older stuff.

One Wink at a Time said...

Very good post, rc. Informative and interesting. You'll always get my attention when you talk about Music :-)

Terence Towles Canote said...

The Rite of Spring has always been one of my favourite pieces, too. I have always wanted to see it performed. You and your wife are very lucky to have seen it!

Um Naief said...

I love the Bass Performance Hall. I've been there one time to see The Odd Couple, years ago. It was great. I didn't realize you were from Fort Worth. I'm from the Dallas/Plano area. I'm glad you had a good time. I don't know this piece from heart, but I'd like to hear it. I love the symphony.

RC said...

naim, I do like Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov...actually the other night at the Stravinsky concert they also played Tchaikovsky's first Piano Concerto, I particularly enjoyed it's first movement.

I don't know what it is about the Russian composers, but I highly enjoy them.

Thanks One Wink for your compliment.

Paula said...

I think my favorite piece by Stravinsky is "The Symphony of Psalms". It is so haunting and beautiful, I feel like I am eavesdropping into some strange mysterious part of Heaven where the angels wear black to worship.

Alexander said...

Hello, my music professor said that Tchaikovsky was Stravinsky's favorite composer. You can hear the influence particularly in "The Firebird". But I think Schoenberg secretly knew that "The Rite..." was music people wanted to listen to instead of "Pierrot Lunaire". It's similar to the way the Beach Boys thought of "Sgt. Peppers".