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In May of 2013, composer Igor Stravinsky‘s landmark work “The Rite of Spring” turns 100 years old. Already, there have been conferences and performances all over the world to celebrate.
Why is this music still considered so groundbreaking?
“It’s pounding, it’s repetitive, it has harmonies that nobody had ever heard before, and some people never want to hear again,” Harvard music professor Thomas Kelly told Here & Now’s Robin Young. “I think it’s one of the most beautiful pieces in the world.”
Stravinsky, who was born in Russia in 1882, composed the work for the Ballets Russes (Russian Ballet). The premiere in 1913, at the Théâtre des Champs Elysée in Paris, caused a near riot.
“Stravinsky’s taking what’s really the most sophisticated instrument that was available at that time, the modern symphony orchestra, and he’s using it to depict the most savage and barbaric of pagan rituals…a young woman dancing herself to death,” said Jeremy Eichler, classical music critic for The Boston Globe. “It’s that tension that I think makes the work stick with us.”
Stravinsky died in New York in 1971 at age 88.
We take a listen to Stravinsky’s piece and consider its impact.
Hear “The Rite of Spring” performed by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra: