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Thread: Le Sacre Du Printemps and its Volcanic Reception

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    Default Le Sacre Du Printemps and its Volcanic Reception

    Le Sacre du Printemps is probably the most influential composition written in the twentieth century. This ballet has caused much controversy in the world of dance and music ever since it came on the scene in 1913. It was premiered in Paris and , I feel, it was wrong on Stravinsky's part to open this ballet in Paris. It turned a French audience into an excited and frustrated irate mob. They were highly disturbed after its premier performance. It was almost in the running for sparking the First World War that was just a year's throw away.
    Stravinsky worked on this ballet at his estate, Oustiloug, in Russia. He used many folk songs in this ballet; from the lot that he had compiled in his notebook. The audience jeered at the revolutionary opening measures of this ballet. Now, when we look back, it is a spark from a genius.
    This is the definitive performance of this ballet by Pierre Boulez. It took place in Paris in 2002. Boulez has also given a stunning account earlier of Le Sacre with Cleveland Orchestra in 1976.


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    Senior Member Bone's Avatar
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    I've understood that Nijinsky's provocative choreography is at least partly to blame for the furor at the premier.

    Love Boulez's interpretation of Stravinsky and Bartok. Seems the "French Correction" has a special affinity for the obscure details that are critical to realizing a great performance of the music of these modern masters.

    My first exposure to art music - besides my fascination with Prokofiev's 3rd Piano Concerto in the movie "The Competition" - was the Cleveland/Maazel "Rite." A friend's father was the professor of piano at the local college and he was a major influence on me: it was rumored that Dr. Huxford knew every theme from just about every composition and "stump the professor" stories were legendary.

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    Senior Member Tapkaara's Avatar
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    Why was it a mistake to premiere this piece in Paris? Where should it have premiered?
    "Music is not philosophy." --Akira Ifukube

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    I have read several accounts of the Rite's reception at its premiere, and I've always been struck by the seeming bizarre behavior exhibited. All the premieres I've attended were much more modest (usually smaller ensembles or unknown composers) so I don't know what it's like to hear a premiere of a highly anticipated work. Still it's hard for me to imagine such outrageous actions during a performance.

    Does anyone know of anything similar for premieres before 1900 or after WWII? Was there something special during that period that allowed high society people to behave that way?

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    If You read descriptions of the "foreign" ballets première's in Paris under the three first decades of the 20th century, I'd say that raunchy audience behaviour was more the common behaviour rather then where silent 'lets be done with it' acceptance as it is today!

    /ptr
    Je suis Charlie ~ I am a certified OrgaNut! (F.—I.W.)

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    I saw The Rite performed by the Chicago Symphony last November, and it was described at the pre-concert lecture that the bad reception was due to the fact that the audience couldn't hear the music well enough. The choreography, being based a lot on connecting with the ground, overshadowed the music and the people couldn't stand it!

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    Senior Member KenOC's Avatar
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    I've seen it suggested that the "riot" at the premiere was at least partially orchestrated by Diaghilev, Nijinsky, and Stavinsky himself. The idea was, pure and simple, notoriety. Maybe Paris was the absolute best place for the performance...


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    From the Guardian:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2013...ing-stravinsky

    If the boos and hisses had been so appalling, why would Diaghilev have been as pleased as Stravinsky says he was? "After the performance," Stravinsky noted, "we were excited, disgusted, and … happy. I went with Diaghilev and Nijinsky to a restaurant. Diaghilev's only comment was, 'Exactly what I wanted.' Quite probably, he had already thought about the possibility of such a scandal when I first played him the score, months before."
    "To be a musician is a curse. To NOT be one is even worse." Jack Daney

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    The Russian impresario ,Serge Diagilev, formed the Ballet Russes in Paris in the early 1900's.
    In 1911 he appointed Pierre Monteaux as principal conductor and Monteaux premiered many works including Stravinsky's "Rite" and "Petrushka",his opera "Le Rossignol" and Ravel's "Daphnis and Chloe".
    Incidentally the correct translation for the "Rite" is "Spring's Consecration".
    Regarding the "Rite's" premier, Stravinsky said "---I left the auditorium after the first bars of the prelude,which had at once evoked derisive laughter. I was disgusted ,during the rest of the performance I was at Nijinsky's side in the wings.he was standing on a chair screaming---but naturally the poor dancers could hear nothing due to the row in the auditorium----I had to hold Nijinsky back as he was furious and ready to dash on stage at any moment and cause a scandal----I was very far from expecting such an outburst as the preview audience of actors,painters,musicians,writers and cultured representatives of society had peacefully accepted the work."
    I would suggest that members should obtain Monteaux's 1951 RCA performance with the Bostonians which obviosly has great authority.
    My own favourite is Dorati's with the Minneapolis forces,but it's all wrong and no dancer could keep up with it.
    Last edited by moody; Mar-17-2013 at 08:30.
    Fools talk because they have to say something, wise men talk because they have something to say.

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    How refreshing, a riot. Too many premieres have been fraught with yawn.

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    Default Reconstruction by Hodson & Archer

    With the dance it is even more shocking. Millicent Hodson and Ken Archer received a commission from the Joffrey Ballet to reconstruct the original. I have a DVD of the Mariinsky Ballet performing the Hodson and Archer reconstruction. The following is a YouTube about the Joffrey performance:



    YouTube links to the Joffrey performance:

    Part 1 of 3 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jF1OQkHybEQ

    Part 2 of 3 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iH1t0pCchxM

    Part 3 of 3 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_7ndqgwxcM

    The movie Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky does a good job of reenacting the premier at the beginning of the film.
    It is impossible to make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenious. And I am a very ingenious fellow

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    Quote Originally Posted by mmsbls View Post
    Does anyone know of anything similar for premieres before 1900 or after WWII? Was there something special during that period that allowed high society people to behave that way?
    Four Organs by Steve Reich caused a similar reaction from the audience in (I think it was) 1970. It wasn't the world première, it might have been the second or third performance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ComposerOfAvantGarde View Post
    Four Organs by Steve Reich caused a similar reaction from the audience in (I think it was) 1970. It wasn't the world première, it might have been the second or third performance.
    The first few performances went down without fuss. But in 1971 there was a bad reception at the Boston Symphony.
    Then in 1973 there was nearly a riot in New York's Carnegie Hall,apparently a woman walked up to the stage and repeatedly banged her head on it shouting : "Please stop ! Please stop ! I confess ! "
    Do you ever get that sort of problem with your stuff ?
    Fools talk because they have to say something, wise men talk because they have something to say.

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    Default Ballet Mécanique

    George Antheil's Ballet Mécanique had a similar reaction when it was premiered in Paris in 1924.
    It is impossible to make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenious. And I am a very ingenious fellow

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    I have always been skeptical about the "riot" at the premiere. It seems as if everyone had to have a riot at their premiere around that time or else their pieces would gain no notoriety -even if they had to fake one.

    Sounds like something that is right up Diaghilev's alley.

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