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Music : MUS 744: The Rite of Spring (FA12 graduate seminar)

Includes research guides on jazz studies, music education, piano pedagogy, world music, instrumental and vocal resources, and much more!

"Who Wrote This Fiendish Rite of Spring?"

The text to this song by Henry Cowell (1897-1965) was included in the "Letters and Documents" section of Nicholas Slonimsky's Music Since 1900 (published in 1937). The citation by Slonimsky states that it first appeared in the Boston Herald in February 1924. He later included it in his 1952 Lexicon of Musical Invective.

Who wrote this fiendish "Rite of Spring," / What right had he to write the thing, / Against our helpless ears to fling / Its crash, clash, cling, clang, bing, bang, bing?

And then to call it "Rite of Spring." / The season when on joyous wing / The birds melodious carols sing / And harmony's in everything!

He who could write the "Rite of Spring" / If I be right, by right should swing!

The attached file is from a copy of the 1996 H. Wiley Hitchcock edition of Henry Cowell's 1938 Three Anti-Modernists Songs.

Music Sources

Sound Recordings

Compact discs check out to graduate students for 1 week and undergrads for 3 days. These recordings are listed in chronological order, from earliest recording date to the most recent.

A pretty good list of orchestral audio recordings, piano version audio recordings, and video recordings is available via Wikipedia.

Igor Stravinsky (June 17, 1882 - April 6, 1971)

Reviews

"Does Mr. Stravinsky imagine that a melody will gain intensity and decisive eloquence because it is doubled during fifty measures with a second above, a second below, or both? One must think so because the innovations embedded in the score of Le Sacre du Printemps are mostly in this category."

   H. Quittard, Figaro, Paris (May 31, 1913)

"The most essential characteristic of Le Sacre du Printemps is that it is the most dissonant and the most discordant composition yet written. Never was the system and the cult of the wrong note practiced with so much industry, zeal, and fury."

   Pierre Lalo, Le Temps, Paris (June 3, 1913)

"The music of Le Sacre du Printemps baffles verbal description. To say that much of it is hideous as sound is a mild description. There is certainly an impelling rhythm traceable. Practically it has no relation to music at all as most of us understand the word."

   Musical Times, London (August 1, 1913)

Try it with a touch of jazz!

Jazz flutist Hubert Laws released an album of classical "covers" in 1971 on the CTI label. It included a 9-minute version of Rite of Spring, along with music by JS Bach, Gabriel Fuare, and Claude Debussy. The album was recorded at Rudy Van Gelder's legendary studio in Englewood Cliffs, NJ.

For more jazz interpretations of The Rite of Spring, try Ornette Coleman's "Sleep Talking," from his Pulitzer Prize-winning album Sound Grammar, Alice Coltrane's "Spring Sounds" (Eternity), and Don Sebesky's very swinging "Rite of Spring."

Preview: DVD1556

Watch the opening footage of this entertaining and educational video!

Related Books

Most books check out to graduate students for 4 months and undergrad students for 4 weeks. Click on individual titles to find the call number -- not all are located within the ML/MT music collections area.

Recommended Video Resources

Videos are available for check-out (1 week for graduate students), or you can use our viewing stations in the Media Center. Please note: video N9634 is in VHS tape format.