Rite of Spring, The

From Wind Repertory Project
Igor Stravinsky

Igor Stravinsky (trans. Merlin Patterson)

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Subtitle: Pictures of Pagan Russia in Two Parts

General Info

Year: 1913 / 1947
Duration: c. 35:45
Difficulty: VII (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Orchestra
Publisher: Merlin Patterson
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $550.00


1. Adoration of the Earth – 16:40
2. The Sacrifice – 19:10


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None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Leonard Bernstein has called Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring "the most important piece of music of the 20th century." This is hardly a controversial statement. There are few works from this very fertile artistic period that have had the impact on music that followed than has The Rite of Spring.

As a young composer, Stravinsky so impressed the impresario Serge Diaghilev that Stravinsky was commissioned to compose three ballets for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. The first was Stravinsky’s magnificent The Firebird, which premiered in 1910. The second was 1911’s Petrushka, which starred Vaslav Nijinsky dancing as the namesake puppet. Prior to composing Petrushka, Stravinsky had a fleeting vision:"I saw in imagination a solemn pagan rite: sage elders, seated in a circle, watched a young girl dance herself to death. They were sacrificing her to propitiate the god of spring. "

He used this as the basis for his third commission, Le Sacre du Printemps or The Rite of Spring, subtitled as Pictures of Pagan Russia in Two Parts.

The premiere was held on May 29, 1913 at the newly opened Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris under the baton of Pierre Monteux. The dance was choreographed by Vaslav Nijinsky. The audience’s reaction has become legend with jeering and fighting in the hall between traditionalists who believed in classical ballet and bohemians, who were impatient with the trappings of classical ballet and instead desired the avant-garde. The journalist and photographer Carl Van Vechten recorded that the person behind him got so carried away with excitement that he "began to beat rhythmically on top of my head," though Van Vechten failed to notice this at first, his own emotion being so great.

Musicologists tend to believe that it was the choreography that caused the upheaval at its premiere. Musicologist Richard Taruskin asserts, "It was not Stravinsky's music that did the shocking. It was the ugly earthbound lurching and stomping devised by Vaslav Nijinsky."

The work has been popular from its first concert performance on February 18, 1914, in St. Petersburg under Serge Koussevitzky. On April 5th of that year, Stravinsky experienced for himself the popular success of The Rite of Spring as a concert work at the Casino de Paris. The composition is in two broad parts, Adoration of the Earth and The Sacrifice. Within each part there are a series of episodes, with no breaks between episodes.

- Program Note by Gregory C. Depp for the Metropolitan Wind Symphony concert program, 6 November 2016

Commercial Discography


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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Works for Winds by This Composer