The Controversial Premiere of "The Rite of Spring" Ballet in Paris

TLDR The premiere of the ballet "The Rite of Spring" in Paris caused a riot, with the unconventional music and choreography challenging traditional ballet and sparking a clash between traditionalists and avant-garde Bohemians. Despite the initial controversy, the piece is now considered one of the most important works of classical music in the 20th century.

Timestamped Summary

00:00 A riot erupted during the premiere of the ballet "The Rite of Spring" in Paris, marking a major exception to the typically well-behaved nature of classical music aficionados.
02:24 The revolution in music, similar to the revolution in art, was polarizing, with traditionalists hating it and avant-garde Bohemians embracing it, and Paris was at the center of this movement; Igor Stravinsky, a Russian composer, achieved fame when he was commissioned to write three works for the ballet Russes.
03:56 The ballet company, Ballet Russes, became influential in the 20th century despite never performing in Russia, and Stravinsky's first two ballets, the Firebird Suite and Petrushka, were well-known, but it was his third ballet, The Rite of Spring, that caused controversy.
05:26 The music and choreography of The Rite of Spring were controversial, with the complex and unconventional music challenging musicians and the non-traditional, jerky movements and Native American-inspired costumes of the dancers deviating from traditional ballet.
07:01 The audience's reaction to The Rite of Spring was immediate and grew increasingly loud and boisterous, with some laughing, booing, and even fighting, while the performance continued despite the chaos.
08:36 The controversy surrounding the premiere of The Rite of Spring continued the next day, with some composers praising it as a work of genius while others called it sheer cacophony, but history has been far kinder to the piece, which is now considered one of the most important works of classical music in the 20th century.
10:08 The exact reasons for the controversy surrounding The Rite of Spring may never be known, but what is clear is that it was a clash of music, dance, and potentially social classes, and it has since become one of the most influential compositions of the 20th century.
Categories: History Education

Browse more History