In June of 1912, Igor Stravinsky premiered the piano version of his daring new work The Rite of Spring, a year before its orchestral unveiling. His piano-playing partner was none other than Claude Debussy. Classical music has never been the same since the public first heard it.
It’s an English opera composed in Hollywood by a Russian. Igor Stravinsky saw the paintings and engravings by the 18th-century William Hogarth, depicting the consequences of loose living and licentiousness, centered on the fictional Tom Rakewell.
The English W. H. Auden and the American Chester Kallman then created a libretto that introduced a new character, Nick Shadow—the Devil—who entices Tom with promises of happiness and money. Tom loses everything, and ends up, literally, in Bedlam, the insane asylum, with the faithful Anne Trulove by his side.
Twentieth-century composer Igor Stravinsky was at first reluctant to accept a commission for a violin concerto because he didn’t know the instrument well enough. But as WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, he changed his mind after consulting the intended violinist – who was game to try an unusual approach.
On Sunday, January 18, 2015 on WRTI, Juliette Kang and The Philadelphia Orchestra play Stravinsky’s violin concerto in a program that also features music by Brahms and Respighi.
The premiere of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring took place on May 29, 1913. The composer's completely original instrumentation and rhythms, and his use of dissonance, have made this work one of the most important of the 20th century, not to mention the riot and ensuing scandal that caused the Paris premiere to be one of the most shocking in all of performance history.
Hear more about it on today's broadcast - Sunday, June 30, 4 to 6 pm.