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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 82 | volume XV | January-February, 2012



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                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 82January-February, 2012
Sound Reviews

Waiting for the Spring

– a view of “Rite to the Spring” by Igor Stravinsky –


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Darija Andovska

Photo by Herb Migdoll

Igor Stravinsky is one of the real epochal music innovators. No other composer of the XX century showed such a penetrating and omnipresent influence, none dominated with his art in the way in which Stravinsky ruled in the course of his seventy-year long music career. Apart from the purely technical aspects, such as the rhythm and harmony, the most significant feature of Stravinsky’s style is its changeability. Starting with the spirit of the late Russian nationalism and ending his career with a thorny individual language, filtered through the twenty-tone principle of expressionism, he accepted many aesthetic directions in the course of his development, always maintaining his recognisable, essential identity.
    Stravinsky went up from obscurity to the world of glory literally over night, in June 1910 when Diaghilev presented his first ballet, “The Firebird”. This, and “Petrushka”, which appeared one year later, glorify the Russian stories and traditions, including the folk melodies. In Stravinsky’s third ballet, “Rite to the Spring”, there are also folk materials used. These three early works of Stravinsky define and even create the modernist style, and establish the young Stravinsky as a pre-eminent composer of the century.
    Although the three ballets were written in a short time and they all used folklore elements, nothing is traditional at all in “Rite to the Spring” and it has nothing of the magic charm and attractive light of the previous two ballets; this is rather a description of a prehistoric ritual, where a young woman is selected by her tribe to dance to death to please the gods of spring.
    The opening night of this ballet in 1913 turned into a complete rebellion, and many people called this event “the real start of the XX century music”.
    There is listening manual in the subtitle: Pictures from Pagan Russia. The piece opens with a fagot, playing in a register much higher than the standard scope, and in the course of 30 minutes it transforms into a barbaric and pagan ritual sacrifice. The music is sharp, dissonant, heavy, there is a huge percussion section hitting and crushing in primitive rhythms, and the provocative choreography of Nijinsky, mildly said, made the audience at the opening evening upset. Despite the fierce yells and comments by the audience, despite the fact that Stravinsky himself had left the hall, Pierre Monteux and his orchestra bravely played the piece until its end.
    Stravinsky gave the following description of his inspiration for






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