Igor Stravinsky, born 126 years ago today in Oranienbaum, Russia (near St. Petersburg), was punk rock before his time. At the 1913 Paris premiere of his infamous Rite of Spring ballet – a depiction of Russian pagan rituals Stravinsky conceived as a maiden literally dancing herself to death – the primal, discordant music and Vaslav Nijinsky’s atavistic choreography touched off a riot; fistfights in the aisles, all that good stuff.
“The Paris police arrived by intermission, but they restored only limited order,” reports Rite of Spring’s Wiki page. “Chaos reigned for the remainder of the performance, and Stravinsky himself was so upset on account of its reception that he fled the theater in mid-scene, reportedly crying.”
Here’s a clip of Stravinsky himself conducting something a little less inflammatory, the magnificent finale to his 1909-10 ballet Firebird.
A couple more musical birthdays after the jump. – Chris Gray
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