Happy Birthday, The Rite of Spring

Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring premièred on this day 100 years ago. Perhaps this recording won’t be as riotous as a century ago.

4038654242_a5f8432fc5_b100 years ago today, a work by Igor Stravinsky received its première performance at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées. That work was his Le Sacre du Printemps, something that we Anglophones call The Rite of Spring. Needless to say, the performance didn’t go over all that well. The Parisians “hissed” the new work, according to The New York Times‘s reporting.

In the century since that fateful night in a Parisian theatre, the work has since become one work of the symphony orchestra’s canon of music. It’s performed far more in a concert setting than in ballet form. Still, at 100, there are always new recordings of the work. One that crossed my computer screen is this cool visualization of the music. For those without a score of Le Sacre in front of them or for those who aren’t musically inclined, this shows the music in an accessible form: shapes.

It’s after the jump.

I’ll share the video first and then split it out into its usual movements, first in French then in English.


Part I: L’Adoration de la Terre (The Adoration of the Earth)

  • 0:00: Introduction (Introduction)
  • 3:17: Les Augures printaniers (The Augurs of Spring) – The celebration of spring begins in the hills, with pipers piping and young men telling fortunes.
  • 6:26: Jeu du rapt (Ritual of Abduction) – An old woman enters and begins to foretell the future. Young girls arrive from the river, in single file. They begin the “Dance of the Abduction.”
  • 7:47: Ronds printanières (Spring Rounds) – The young girls dance the Khorovod, the “Spring Rounds.”
  • 11:22: Jeux des cités rivales (Ritual of the Rival Tribes) – The people divide into two groups in opposition to each other, and begin the “Ritual of the Rival Tribes.”
  • 13:08: Cortège du sage (Procession of the Sage) and Le Sage (The Sage) – A holy procession leads to the entry of the wise elders, headed by the Sage who brings the games to a pause and blesses the earth.
  • 14:09: Danse de la terre (Dance of the Earth) – The people break into a passionate dance, sanctifying and becoming one with the earth.


Part II: Le Sacrifice (The Sacrifice)

  • 0:00: Introduction (Introduction)
  • 4:53: Cercles mystérieux des adolescentes (Mystic Circles of the Young Girls) – The young girls engage in mysterious games, walking in circles.
  • 8:10: Glorification de l’élue (Glorification of the Chosen One) – One of the young girls is selected by fate, being twice caught in the perpetual circle, and is honored as the “Chosen One” with a marital dance.
  • 9:36: Evocation des ancêtres (Evocation of the Ancestors) – In a brief dance, the young girls invoke the ancestors.
  • 10:27: Action rituelle des ancêtres (Ritual Action of the Ancestors) – The Chosen One is entrusted to the care of the old wise men.
  • 14:05: Danse sacrale [L’Élue] (Sacrificial Dance [The Chosen One]) – The Chosen One dances to death in the presence of the old men, in the great “Sacrificial Dance.”