title Le sacre du printemps , is a ballet
with music by Igor Stravinsky
; choreography by Vaslav Nijinsky
; and concept, set design and costumes by Nicholas Roerich
. It was produced by Sergei Diaghilev
for his Ballets Russes
ballet company and had its première in Paris on 29 May 1913.
The music's innovative complex rhythmic structures, timbres, and use of dissonance
have made it a seminal 20th century composition.
"This intersecting of inherently non-symmetrical diatonic elements with inherently non-diatonic symmetrical elements seems to me the defining principle of the musical language of Le Sacre and the source of the unparalleled tension and conflicted energy of the work."
title Le sacre du printemps , is a ballet
with music by Igor Stravinsky
; choreography by Vaslav Nijinsky
; and concept, set design and costumes by Nicholas Roerich
. It was produced by Sergei Diaghilev
for his Ballets Russes
ballet company and had its première in Paris on 29 May 1913.
The music's innovative complex rhythmic structures, timbres, and use of dissonance
have made it a seminal 20th century composition. In 1973, composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein
said of one passage, "That page is sixty years old, but it's never been topped for sophisticated handling of primitive rhythms...", and of the work as a whole, "...it's also got the best dissonances anyone ever thought up, and the best asymmetries and polytonalities
s and whatever else you care to name."
A performance of the work lasts about 33 minutes.
TitleWhile the Russian title literally means "Sacred Spring", the English title is based on the French title under which the work was premièred, although sacre is more precisely translated as "consecration". It has the subtitle Pictures from Pagan Russia (French: Tableaux de la Russie païenne).
DevelopmentVersions differ on the origin of the concept for The Rite of Spring. Stravinsky later in life said that it came to him in a dream. But contemporary sources support that the idea originated with the Russian philosopher and painter Nicholas Roerich
. Roerich shared his idea with Stravinsky in 1910, a fleeting vision of a pagan ritual in which a young girl dances herself to death. Together, Roerich and Stravinsky worked out a scenario of pagan dances in pre-Christian Russia. Roerich drew from scenes of historical rites for inspiration and used research of early Russian culture to create settings and costumes to complete the image of an early pagan Russia.
Stravinsky's earliest concept for the music of The Rite of Spring came in the spring of 1910. Stravinsky writes, "... there arose a picture of a sacred pagan ritual: the wise elders are seated in a circle and are observing the dance before death of the girl whom they are offering as a sacrifice to the god of Spring in order to gain his benevolence. This became the subject of The Rite of Spring."
While composing The Firebird
, Stravinsky began forming sketches and ideas for the piece, enlisting the help of Roerich. Though he was sidetracked for a year while he worked on Petrushka (which he intended to be a light burlesque
as a relief from the orchestrally intense work already in progress), The Rite of Spring was composed between 1912 and 1913 for Sergei Diaghilev
's Ballets Russes
Diaghilev assigned the choreography of the ballet to Vaslav Nijinsky
, the company's leading male dancer. Nijinsky conceived of a completely original dance style for the ballet that emphasized earthy staccato movements with feet turned inward. It was a radical departure from ballet as it was known at the time. Nijinsky experienced considerable trouble conveying his ideas to his collaborators and teaching the steps to the dancers. Stravinsky would later write in his autobiography of the process of working with Nijinsky on the choreography, stating that "the poor boy knew nothing of music" and that Nijinsky "had been saddled with a task beyond his capacity." While Stravinsky praised Nijinsky's amazing dance talent, he was frustrated working with him on choreography.
This frustration was reciprocated by Nijinsky with regard to Stravinsky's patronizing attitude: "...so much time is wasted as Stravinsky thinks he is the only one who knows anything about music. In working with me he explains the value of the black note
s, the white notes, of quavers and semiquavers, as though I had never studied music at all... I wish he would talk more about his music for Sacre, and not give a lecture on the beginning theory of music."
PremièreAfter undergoing revisions almost up until the very day of its first performance, the ballet was premièred by the Ballets Russes
on Thursday, 29 May 1913 at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées
, conducted by Pierre Monteux
The première involved one of the most famous classical music riot
s in history. The intensely rhythmic score and primitive scenario and choreography shocked the audience that was accustomed to the elegant conventions of classical ballet.
The evening's program began with another Stravinsky piece entitled “Les Sylphides.” This was followed by, “The Rite of Spring”. The complex music and violent dance steps depicting fertility rites first drew catcalls and whistles from the crowd. At the start, some members of the audience began to boo loudly. There were loud arguments in the audience between supporters and opponents of the work. These were soon followed by shouts and fistfights in the aisles. The unrest in the audience eventually degenerated into a riot. The Paris police arrived by intermission, but they restored only limited order. Chaos reigned for the remainder of the performance. Stravinsky had called for a bassoon to play higher in its range than anyone else had ever done. Fellow composer Camille Saint-Saëns
famously stormed out of the première allegedly infuriated over the misuse of the bassoon in the ballet's opening bars (though Stravinsky later said "I do not know who invented the story that he was present at, but soon walked out of, the première." ). Stravinsky ran backstage, where Diaghilev was turning the lights on and off in an attempt to try to calm the audience.
After the première, Diaghilev is reported to have commented to Nijinsky and Stravinsky at dinner that the scandal was "exactly what I wanted."
Some scholars have questioned the traditional account, particularly concerning the extent to which the riot was caused by the music, rather than by the choreography and/or the social and political circumstances. The Stravinsky scholar Richard Taruskin
has written an article about the première, entitled "A Myth of the Twentieth Century," in which he attempts to demonstrate that the traditional story of the music provoking unrest was largely concocted by Stravinsky himself in the 1920s after he had published the score. At that later date, Stravinsky was constructing an image of himself as an innovative composer to promote his music, and he revised his accounts of the composition and performances of The Rite of Spring to place a greater emphasis on a break with musical traditions and to encourage a focus on the music itself in concert performances. Once the music became popular, later writers appropriated Stravinsky's version of events. Taruskin summarizes how unimportant the music apparently was to most of the audience at the première:
The ballet completed its run of six performances amid controversy, but experienced no further disruption. The same performers gave the London
premiere on 11 July the same year, to a quieter reception. Nijinsky's ballet was not performed again and his choreography disappeared until reconstructed in the 1980s (see below).
The first concert (i.e., non-staged) performance of the work was given in Moscow on 5/18 February 1914, conducted by Serge Koussevitsky; after the Paris concert première at the Casino de Paris
on 5 April 1914, conducted by Monteux, (whose direction was praised by Pierre Lalo and Florent Schmitt
), Stravinsky was carried out into the Place de la Trinité on the shoulders of a cheering crowd. The United States
concert première was in 1922 in Philadelphia.
A representation of the 1913 première incident appears in the 2005 BBC-TV drama "Riot At The Rite" as well as in the opening scenes of the 2009 film, Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky
ChoreographyVaslav Nijinsky was the premiere choreographer for the ballet. Because of the irregular, constantly changing pulse of Stravinsky’s music, the dancers (who customarily count out their dance steps by the numbers) soon referred to the musical score as “an arithmetic lesson.” One of the dancers recalled that the modern choreography was physically unnatural and that "with every leap we landed heavily enough to jar every organ in us." http://www.npr.org/programs/specials/milestones/991110.motm.riteofspring.html During the performance, when the Sacrificial Virgin shook onstage during her solo dance, her hands held up by her cheeks, someone in the balcony cried out: “Call a doctor . . . a dentist . . . two doctors!!!” http://www.houstonsymphony.org/media/ProgramNotesandBiosFinal.pdf
During the performance, Nijinsky stood on a chair, leaned out (far enough that Stravinsky had to grab his coat-tail), and shouted counts to the dancers, who were unable to hear the orchestra (this was challenging because Russian numbers above ten are polysyllabic, such as eighteen: vosemnadsat vs. seventeen: semnadsat). As Thomas Kelly states, "The pagans on-stage made pagans of the audience."
CostumesArchaeologist and painter Nicholas Roerich contributed the set design and the costumes, which were described in a 2002 Ballet Magazine article as "heavy smocks, handpainted with [primitive] symbols of circles and squares." http://www.nea.gov/about/40th/joffrey.html
ThemesThe Rite is divided into two parts with the following scenes (there are many different English translations of the original titles; the ones given are Stravinsky's preferred wording followed by the original French in parenthesis):
- The Augurs of Spring: Dances of the Young Girls (Les Augures Printaniers: Danses des Adolescentes)
- Ritual of Abduction (Jeu du Rapt)
- Spring Rounds (Rondes Printanières)
- Games of the Two Rival Tribes (Jeux des Cités Rivales)
- Procession of the Oldest and Wisest One [the Sage] (Cortège du Sage)
- The Kiss of the Earth (The Oldest and Wisest One) [(The Sage)] (Adoration de la Terre (Le Sage))
- The Dancing Out of the Earth, OR The Dance Overcoming the Earth (Danse de la Terre)
Second Part: The Exalted Sacrifice (Seconde Partie: Le Sacrifice)
- Mystic Circle of the Young Girls (Cercles Mystérieux des Adolescentes)
- The Naming and Honoring of the Chosen One (Glorification de l'Élue)
- Evocation of the Ancestors OR Ancestral Spirits (Evocation des Ancêtres)
- Ritual Action of the Ancestors (Action Rituelle des Ancêtres)
- Sacrificial Dance (The Chosen One) (Danse Sacrale (L'Élue))
Though the melodies draw upon folk-like themes designed to evoke the feeling of songs passed down from ancient time, the only tune Stravinsky acknowledged to be directly drawn from previously existing folk melody is the opening, first heard played by the solo bassoon. Several other themes, however, have been shown to have a striking similarity to folk tunes appearing in the Juskiewicz anthology of Lithuanian folk songs.
Musical characteristicsStravinsky's music is harmonically
adventurous, with prominent use of dissonance for the purposes of color and musical energy. Rhythmically, it is similarly adventurous, a number of sections having constantly changing time signatures and off-beat accents. Stravinsky used asymmetrical rhythms, percussive dissonance
, polyrhythms, polytonality
, layering of ostinati
(persistently repeated ideas) and melodic fragments to create complex webs of interactive lines, and is influenced by primitivism
(specifically, West African tribal art). An example of primitivism can be seen below (from the opening of the final section, the "Sacrificial Dance"):
(1977 quoted in 1990), the "intersecting of inherently non-symmetrical diatonic elements with inherently non-diatonic symmetrical elements seems... the defining principle of the musical language of Le Sacre and the source of the unparalleled tension and conflicted energy of the work". This idea is elaborated more fully by Van Den Toorn, who gives a detailed analysis of the pitch structure of the piece in terms of diatonically derived tetrachord
s intersecting with symmetrical 'partitions' of the octatonic scale.
Like the symmetrical partitioning of the twelve-tone scale in Le Sacre, the work's diatonicism may be explained in terms of interval cycle
s more simply and coherently than in terms of traditional modes or major and minor scales. With the single exception of interval[-class] 5, every interval[-class] from 1 through 6 partitions an octave into equal segments. A seven-note segment of the interval-5 cycle [C5], telescoped into the compass of an octave, divides the octave into unequal intervals: 'whole-steps' and 'half-steps'".
from the Introduction, following the solo bassoon head motif in measures 1-3, is a symmetrical tritone
divided by minor thirds, making an interval-3 cycle (C 3) (p. 19). Like Edgard Varèse
's Density 21.5
, "it partitioned the interval of a tritone into two minor thirds and differentiated these by twice filling in the span of the upper third--first chromatically and then with a single passing note--and leaving the lower third open". The theme repeats "truncated" in 7-9, the head motif only in 13, and then fully, transposed down a half step, fifty three measures later, 66, at the end of the movement with "(c-flat)-(b-flat)-(a-flat) instead of the head motif's c-b-a" (p. 81-82).
Like Density 21.5, it "implies the complete representation of each partition of the C3 interval cycle." C30 begins in the head motif's c-b-a and is completed by the main theme which immediately follows (see example above). However, "the otherwise atonal C 3 cycle is initiated by a minor third that is plainly diatonic and tonal" (p. 83). Thus The Rite of Spring has something in common with No. 33 of Béla Bartók
's 44 Violin Duets, "Song of the Harvest", which, "juxtaposes tonal and atonal interpretations of the same perfect-4th tetrachord
" (p. 86).
The enduring celebrity of The Rite of Spring is partly due to its constant discussion and analysis by musicologists and music theorists. Allen Forte
, Pierre Boulez
and Van den Toorn have given analyses of the work's structure in terms of abstract relations of rhythm and pitch, arguing for a modernist understanding of its musical language. On the other hand, Richard Taruskin
's monumental study of Stravinsky's early music gives an explanation of the musical characteristics as fundamentally and directly derived from Russian folk music.
American composer and parodist Peter Schickele
said in a radio broadcast in the 1990s that The Rite of Spring had such a profound effect on composition that virtually all subsequent 20th century music could be said to be “The Rewrite of Spring”.
InstrumentationThe Rite of Spring is scored for an unusually large orchestra
consisting of the following:
- woodwinds: piccoloPiccoloThe piccolo is a half-size flute, and a member of the woodwind family of musical instruments. The piccolo has the same fingerings as its larger sibling, the standard transverse flute, but the sound it produces is an octave higher than written...
, 3 fluteFluteThe flute is a musical instrument of the woodwind family. Unlike woodwind instruments with reeds, a flute is an aerophone or reedless wind instrument that produces its sound from the flow of air across an opening...
s (3rd doubling piccolo 2), alto fluteAlto fluteThe alto flute is a type of Western concert flute, a musical instrument in the woodwind family. It is the next extension downward of the C flute after the flûte d'amour. It is characterized by its distinct, mellow tone in the lower portion of its range...
, 4 oboeOboeThe oboe is a double reed musical instrument of the woodwind family. In English, prior to 1770, the instrument was called "hautbois" , "hoboy", or "French hoboy". The spelling "oboe" was adopted into English ca...
s (4th doubling English horn 2), English horn, clarinet in E-flat and D, 3 clarinetClarinetThe clarinet is a musical instrument of woodwind type. The name derives from adding the suffix -et to the Italian word clarino , as the first clarinets had a strident tone similar to that of a trumpet. The instrument has an approximately cylindrical bore, and uses a single reed...
s in B-flat, A (3rd doubling bass clarinetBass clarinetThe bass clarinet is a musical instrument of the clarinet family. Like the more common soprano B clarinet, it is usually pitched in B , but it plays notes an octave below the soprano B clarinet...
2), bass clarinetBass clarinetThe bass clarinet is a musical instrument of the clarinet family. Like the more common soprano B clarinet, it is usually pitched in B , but it plays notes an octave below the soprano B clarinet...
, 4 bassoonBassoonThe bassoon is a woodwind instrument in the double reed family that typically plays music written in the bass and tenor registers, and occasionally higher. Appearing in its modern form in the 19th century, the bassoon figures prominently in orchestral, concert band and chamber music literature...
s (4th doubling contrabassoon 2), contrabassoonContrabassoonThe contrabassoon, also known as the double bassoon or double-bassoon, is a larger version of the bassoon, sounding an octave lower...
- brassBrass instrumentA brass instrument is a musical instrument whose sound is produced by sympathetic vibration of air in a tubular resonator in sympathy with the vibration of the player's lips...
: 8 hornHorn (instrument)The horn is a brass instrument consisting of about of tubing wrapped into a coil with a flared bell. A musician who plays the horn is called a horn player ....
s in F (7th and 8th doubling Wagner tubaWagner tubaThe Wagner tuba is a comparatively rare brass instrument that combines elements of both the French horn and the tuba. Also referred to as the "Bayreuth Tuba", it was originally created for Richard Wagner's operatic cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen. Since then, other composers have written for it, most...
s in B-flat), trumpet in DPiccolo trumpetThe smallest of the trumpet family is the piccolo trumpet, pitched one octave higher than the standard B trumpet. Most piccolo trumpets are built to play in either B or A, using a separate leadpipe for each key. The tubing in the B piccolo trumpet is one-half the length of that in a standard B...
, 4 trumpetTrumpetThe trumpet is the musical instrument with the highest register in the brass family. Trumpets are among the oldest musical instruments, dating back to at least 1500 BCE. They are played by blowing air through closed lips, producing a "buzzing" sound which starts a standing wave vibration in the air...
s in C (4th doubling bass trumpetBass trumpetThe bass trumpet is a type of low trumpet which was first developed during the 1820s in Germany. It is usually pitched in 8' C or 9' B today, but is sometimes built in E and is treated as a transposing instrument sounding either an octave, a sixth or a ninth lower than written, depending on the...
in E-flat), 3 tromboneTromboneThe trombone is a musical instrument in the brass family. Like all brass instruments, sound is produced when the player’s vibrating lips cause the air column inside the instrument to vibrate...
s, 2 tubaTubaThe tuba is the largest and lowest-pitched brass instrument. Sound is produced by vibrating or "buzzing" the lips into a large cupped mouthpiece. It is one of the most recent additions to the modern symphony orchestra, first appearing in the mid-19th century, when it largely replaced the...
- percussion: timpaniTimpaniTimpani, or kettledrums, are musical instruments in the percussion family. A type of drum, they consist of a skin called a head stretched over a large bowl traditionally made of copper. They are played by striking the head with a specialized drum stick called a timpani stick or timpani mallet...
(2 players, with a minimum of 5 drums including a piccolo timpano), bass drumBass drumBass drums are percussion instruments that can vary in size and are used in several musical genres. Three major types of bass drums can be distinguished. The type usually seen or heard in orchestral, ensemble or concert band music is the orchestral, or concert bass drum . It is the largest drum of...
, cymbalCymbalCymbals are a common percussion instrument. Cymbals consist of thin, normally round plates of various alloys; see cymbal making for a discussion of their manufacture. The greater majority of cymbals are of indefinite pitch, although small disc-shaped cymbals based on ancient designs sound a...
s, tam-tam, crotalesCrotalesthumb|right|Crotales are often used with other mallet percussionCrotales , sometimes called antique cymbals, are percussion instruments consisting of small, tuned bronze or brass disks. Each is about 4 inches in diameter with a flat top surface and a nipple on the base. They are commonly...
(antique cymbals) in A-flat and B-flat, triangleTriangle (instrument)The triangle is an idiophone type of musical instrument in the percussion family. It is a bar of metal, usually steel but sometimes other metals like beryllium copper, bent into a triangle shape. The instrument is usually held by a loop of some form of thread or wire at the top curve...
, tambourineTambourineThe tambourine or marine is a musical instrument of the percussion family consisting of a frame, often of wood or plastic, with pairs of small metal jingles, called "zils". Classically the term tambourine denotes an instrument with a drumhead, though some variants may not have a head at all....
, güiroGüiroThe güiro is a Latin-American percussion instrument consisting of an open-ended, hollow gourd with parallel notches cut in one side. It is played by rubbing a stick or tines along the notches to produce a ratchet-like sound. The güiro is commonly used in Latin-American music, and plays a key role...
- stringsString instrumentA string instrument is a musical instrument that produces sound by means of vibrating strings. In the Hornbostel-Sachs scheme of musical instrument classification, used in organology, they are called chordophones...
: violinViolinThe violin is a string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest, highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which includes the viola and cello....
s i, ii (16), (14), violaViolaThe viola is a bowed string instrument. It is the middle voice of the violin family, between the violin and the cello.- Form :The viola is similar in material and construction to the violin. A full-size viola's body is between and longer than the body of a full-size violin , with an average...
s (12), violoncellos (10), double bassDouble bassThe double bass, also called the string bass, upright bass, standup bass or contrabass, is the largest and lowest-pitched bowed string instrument in the modern symphony orchestra, with strings usually tuned to E1, A1, D2 and G2...
Stravinsky scored the instruments of the orchestra in unusual sounding registers
in The Rite of Spring, often emulating the strained sounds of untrained village voices. An instance of this is heard in the very opening bassoon solo which reaches near to the highest notes of the instrument's range. The composer also called for instruments that, before The Rite of Spring, had rarely been scored for in orchestral music, including the alto flute
, piccolo trumpet
, bass trumpet
, Wagner tuba
, and güiro
. The use of these instruments, combined with the aforementioned manipulation of instrumental registers, gave the piece a distinctive sound.
In his 1951–52 Charles Eliot Norton
lectures, Aaron Copland
characterized The Rite of Spring as the foremost orchestral achievement of the 20th century.
Arrangements for pianoStravinsky composed a piano four-hands
version before finishing the orchestral score. The composer was continually revising the work for both musical and practical reasons, even after the première and well into ensuing years. The transcription for piano four-hands was performed with Claude Debussy
; since Stravinsky composed the Rite, as with his other works, at the piano, it is natural that he worked on the piano version of the work concurrently with the full orchestral score. It was in this form that the piece was first published (in 1913, the full score
not being published until 1921 by Editions Russe de Musique). Owing to the disruption caused by World War I
, there were few performances of the work in the years following its composition, which made this arrangement
the predominant version by which the piece gained public exposure. This version is still performed quite frequently, as it does not require the massive forces of the full orchestral version.
Stravinsky also made two arrangements of The Rite of Spring for player piano
. In late 1915, the Aeolian Company
in London asked for permission to issue both the Rite and Petrushka on piano roll
, and by early 1918 the composer had made several sketches to be used in the more complex passages. Again owing to the war, the work of transcribing the rolls dragged on, and only the Rite was ever issued by Aeolian on standard pianola rolls, and this not until late 1921, by which time Stravinsky had completed a far more comprehensive re-composition of the work for the Pleyela, the brand of player piano manufactured by Pleyel
The Pleyela/pianola master rolls were not recorded using a "recording piano" played by a performer in real time, but were instead true "pianola" rolls, cut mechanically/graphically, free from any constraints imposed by the ability of the player. Musicologist William Malloch observed that on these rolls the final section is at a considerably faster tempo, relative to the rest of the composition, than in the generally used orchestral score. Malloch opines—based upon this evidence, the composer's revisions of the orchestral score, and a limited number of very early phonographic recordings of performances—that Stravinsky originally intended the faster tempo, but found that significant numbers of orchestral players at the time were simply unable to manage the rhythmic complexity of the section at that tempo, and accordingly revised the tempo markings. The Zander recording includes both the pianola version, and the orchestral Rite with the faster tempo restored to the final section. A low-fidelity recording is available here.
Later productionsThe music has since become a frequent basis for ballets produced by dance troupes around the world. Since Nijinsky's original version, some 180 choreographies have been created to the score of The Rite of Spring. The second version was created in 1920 by Leonide Massine, again for the Ballets Russes. It was based on the original scenario by Roehrich and used the sets and costumes of the 1913 premier production.
Among the many others, some of the most noted productions include a version choreographed by Sir Kenneth MacMillan for the Royal Ballet of London in 1962 that remains in its repertoire today. Glen Tetley
created a powerful abstract version for the Bavarian Opera Ballet of Munich in 1974 combining modern and classical dance styles. This version has since been produced by American Ballet Theater and other major companies. Modern dance choreographer Pina Bausch
created a highly acclaimed Rite of Spring (German title: Frühlingsopfer) in 1975 for her Wuppertal Dance Theatre. In her dramatic and violent interpretation, the sacrificial victim is lynched by a mob of onlookers. Bausch's production has since been performed throughout the world.
ReconstructionAfter nine performances by the Ballets Russes, Nijinsky's ballet was not produced again. His choreography was documented only in contemporary written eye-witness accounts, in photographs, and in detailed notes preserved by the English ballet director Marie Rambert
In 1987, the Joffrey Ballet
received a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) grant in Dance of $243,400 "to support three self-produced seasons in New York City and Los Angeles, and the reconstruction of Vaslav Nijinsky's Le Sacre du Printemps." The reconstruction was done by Millicent Hodson, a choreographer and dance historian, and her husband Kenneth Archer, an art historian. Hodson and Archer reconstructed the ballet together by researching "prompt books, contemporary sketches, paintings, photographs, reviews, the original costume designs, annotated scores, and interviews with eye witnesses, such as Dame Marie Rambert, Nijinsky's assistant." http://www.nea.gov/about/40th/joffrey.html
The piece premièred in Los Angeles, and in 1990, Joffrey's reconstruction was televised as part of the Dance in America/Great Performances
series on PBS
. Hodson's reconstructed version of Nijinsky's "Sacre" has since been added to the repertory of the Mariinsky Theatre
Ballet Company (formerly the Kirov) of St. Petersburg, Russia and has been filmed by that company and released on video.
Influence on danceNijinsky's choreography introduced new concepts of dance that were extremely influential in the 20th Century. Different from the long and graceful lines of traditional ballet, his Rite of Spring featured arms and legs that were sharply bent in. The dancers danced more from their pelvis than their feet, a style that later influenced Martha Graham
. The "anti-ballet" aspects of the Nijinsky choreography (body components curled inward not opened outward, body pulled down not lifted up, steps heavy not light, focus on grotesqueness not elegance) as well as the controversial, violent, pagan, or primitivist thematic material, greatly influenced Tatsumi Hijikata
and Tamano method Butoh
Disney's FantasiaThe Rite of Spring was further popularized through Walt Disney
), an animated
in which original animated images and stories were combined with works of classical music. The Rite of Spring is the fourth piece in the film's program, illustrated by "a pageant, as the story of the growth of life on Earth" according to the narration read by Deems Taylor
. The sequence depicts the evolution of life on earth, from the beginning of simple life forms up to the dinosaurs and their eventual destruction. The original score of Stravinsky's work was edited for its use in Fantasia. Part I was considerably shortened and the opening bassoon solo was repeated at the end. Moreover, the finale of Act II (La Danse Sacrle) was completely omitted, since after L'Action Rituelle des Ancêtres the music goes back to Act I - which has been split into two parts - and plays the two last movements (L'Adoration de la Terre and La Danse de la Terre).
Stravinsky's own 1961 recording of the work for Columbia Records
included liner notes
by him, transcribed from an interview
for which the audio still exists. Therein, he stated that he received $1,200 (his share of a total $5,000) for the use of his music in the film, explaining that since his music was not copyright
ed for use in the USA it could be used regardless of whether he granted permission or not, but that Disney wished to show the film in other countries. In order for the music to follow the animated story concerned, much of Part I either was omitted entirely or was moved to, or repeated at, the end. Stravinsky, the only living composer featured in the film at the time of its release, spoke critically of the significant re-ordering and cuts made to his composition. One source states that he also conceded that the animators understood the meaning of the piece, but Stravinsky said in his autobiography that the musical performance of the work was "execrable", and about the animation, "I do not wish to criticize an unresisting imbecility."
Musical references and arrangementsAs one of Western music's genre-defining compositions, themes from the work have been interpolated into dozens of other compositions. Among them:
- When he came to Paris, Charlie ParkerCharlie ParkerCharles Parker, Jr. , famously called Bird or Yardbird, was an American jazz saxophonist and composer....
quoted the introduction in his solo on "Salt PeanutsSalt Peanuts"Salt Peanuts" is a bebop tune reportedly composed by Dizzy Gillespie in 1942, credited "with the collaboration of" bebop drummer Kenny Clarke...
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freely quotes from The Rite of Spring during side one of Absolutely FreeAbsolutely FreeAbsolutely Free is the second album by The Mothers of Invention, led by Frank Zappa. Absolutely Free is, again, a display of complex musical composition with political and social satire. The band had been augmented since Freak Out! by the addition of saxophone player Bunk Gardner, keyboardist Don...
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band King CrimsonKing CrimsonKing Crimson are a rock band founded in London, England in 1969. Often categorised as a foundational progressive rock group, the band have incorporated diverse influences and instrumentation during their history...
features motifs inspired directly from The Rite of Spring, particularly, "The Dance of the Young Girls".
- Jaco PastoriusJaco PastoriusJohn Francis Anthony Pastorius III , known as Jaco Pastorius, was an American jazz musician and composer widely acknowledged as a virtuoso electric bass player....
quotes the Introduction in his solo on "Havona" on the album Heavy WeatherHeavy Weather (album)The album received positive reviews since its publication. American music journalist Richard Ginell gave the album the maximum rating, five stars out of five, and concluded his review for Allmusic by stating that, "[r]eleased just as the jazz-rock movement began to run out of steam, this landmark...
and in the opening to "Talk To Me" on the Joni Mitchell album Don Juan's Reckless DaughterDon Juan's Reckless DaughterDon Juan's Reckless Daughter is a 1977 double album by the folk/pop/rock musician Joni Mitchell. It is unusual for its experimental style, expanding even further on the jazz fusion sound of Mitchell's Hejira from the year before...
- An excerpt of the composition acts as an introduction to "Father" on 1994 Vanden PlasVanden Plas (band)Vanden Plas is a German progressive metal band, based in Kaiserslautern and founded in the mid 1980s. In 1991, they recorded the song "Keep On Running" as an anthem for the local national league football club FC Kaiserslautern, and did the same in 1994 with "Das Ist Für Euch"...
album Colour TempleColour TempleColour Temple is the first studio album by the German progressive metal band Vanden Plas.-Track listing:# "Father" - 5:38# "Push" - 4:15# "When the Wind Blows" - 7:10# "My Crying" - 5:25# "Soul Survives" - 9:05# "Anytime" - 7:06# "Judas" - 6:01...
- Parts of the bassoon introduction were used by Ornette ColemanOrnette ColemanOrnette Coleman is an American saxophonist, violinist, trumpeter and composer. He was one of the major innovators of the free jazz movement of the 1960s....
as part of an introductory cadenzaCadenzaIn music, a cadenza is, generically, an improvised or written-out ornamental passage played or sung by a soloist or soloists, usually in a "free" rhythmic style, and often allowing for virtuosic display....
to "Sleep Talking" on Sound GrammarSound GrammarSound Grammar is an album by jazz saxophonist and composer Ornette Coleman, recorded live in Ludwigshafen, Germany, on 14 October 2005. The album was produced by Ornette Coleman and Michaela Deiss, and released on Coleman's new Sound Grammar label. It is his first new album in almost a decade,...
- In 2010, Stefan GoldmannStefan GoldmannStefan Goldmann is a German-Bulgarian DJ and Record producer of electronic music. He has released numerous records through the labels Perlon, Innervisions, Cocoon Recordings and others. Since 2007 he runs his own imprint, Macro, and holds a residency at Berlin's Panorama Bar club...
released a CD containing an electroacoustic edit, consisting of 144 edited segments taken from several recordings of the work, claiming the composition as laid out in the score has not been altered.
- A version of the work for modern jazz orchestra was arranged by Darryl Brenzel.
- Modern jazz trio The Bad PlusThe Bad PlusThe Bad Plus are a jazz trio from the United States, consisting of pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson, and drummer Dave King, originating from Minneapolis, MN.-History:...
introduced their own jazz interpretation of the score in 2011 at Duke University.
- McDonald, Matthew. 2010. "Jeu de Nombres: Automated Rhythm in The Rite of Spring". Journal of the American Musicological Society 63, no. 3 (Fall): 499–551.