(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘Stravinsky

“Yes, but does Maine have anything to SAY to Florida?”*…


The Rite of Spring: dancers in Nicholas Roerich’s original costumes

Art takes time, both to be created and to be understood. On May 29, 1913, Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, a ballet, premiered in Paris and promptly saw its audience descend into chaos. What was this new noise calling itself orchestral music? Did they hate it? Did they like it? Were they supposed to like it? Now the ballet and score are classics, but for some critics, this new style was simply another nail in the coffin of true artistry…

From Henry T. Fink’s The Noble Contempt for Melody (1914):

Are melodies out of fashion? Not with the public, which enjoys them more than ever. But the tailless foxes known as Futurists or cacophonists are doing their darnedest to create the impression that they are building up a new musical art, far nobler than the music of the past, into which so puerile a thing as melody cannot be allowed to enter.

Not content with boycotting melody, these cubists also make war on concord. Not for them is what Shakespeare called the “sweet concord of sounds.” Their music is an endless chain of premeditated discords—shrill, harsh, ear piercing. Concord, they tell us in word and deed, is for the old fogeys who like melodies and other sweets. The musical dishes of the future, according to their recipes, will be made up entirely of mustard, horseradish, vinegar, red pepper, curry, and asafetida. Guten appetit, kinder!

Scriabin, Stravinsky, Ferruccio Busoni, Leo Ornstein, Erik Satie, and a dozen others have thrown their hats in the ring, and each one tries to go the others one better in the cult of cacophony and general lawlessness. They remind one of the sportsmen who vie with each other in breeding ugliness into bulldogs.

From the ever-illuminating Lapham’s Quarterly.

* (Our old friend) Ralph Waldo Emerson


As we trip the light fantastic, we might recall that it was on this date in 1982 that President Ronald Reagan signed the unanimously-passed Resolution of the Joint Houses of Congress, declaring square dancing the national folk dance of the United States.

Bent Creek Ranch Square Dance Team dancing at the Mountain Music Festival, Asheville, North Carolina (c. 1940)



Written by (Roughly) Daily

June 1, 2016 at 1:01 am

“I was obliged to be industrious”*…



Johann Sebastian Bach was a very, very  busy Baroque musician.  A career player who worked his way up from church organist to Kapellmeister (director of music) for Prince Leopold and Cantor (Musical Head) of the Thomasschule at the Thomaskirche in Leipzig, Bach was, throughout, steadily composing the music for which we know him now.  Indeed, his catalogue, the Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis (or BWV) has 1126 entries– not including those deemed to be incomplete (captured in an appendix to the BWV) and those that have been lost (including almost 100 cantatas).

The Netherlands Bach Society has been performing the Master’s music since 1921.  As they looked ahead to their looming centennial, they decided to mark it in the only way that seemed appropriate, with what they call “All of Bach“:

In September 2013 we started performing and recording all of Bach’s works. The first recordings were made available on this site on 2 May 2014, followed by a new Bach recording every Friday. Each piece of music by Bach has its own page where site visitors can choose: the recording, interviews, background information or audience reactions. You can watch and listen to every single piece in its entirety. Musicians will talk about what the music does for them. Background information is provided for each work and all the facts about the recording are compactly summarized. The public section of the site has space for reactions from listeners…

They’re pacing themselves to complete the catalogue just in time for the 2021-22 season, in which they’ll celebrate the Society’s first 100 years.

Listen, learn– and luxuriate– at All of Bach.

* Johann Sebastian Bach


As we wonder at the well-tempered, we might recall that it was on this date in 1913 that Le Sacre du printemps (Rite of Spring) premiered in Paris.  Composed for Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes by Igor Stravinsky (who’d already had success with Diaghilev on The Firebird  and Petrushka), it was choreographed by Nijinsky and designed and costumed by Nicholas Roerich.

The performance famously elicited a strong reaction from its audience– an over-packed house– which reacted to the “celebration of pagan rituals” with jeers and whistles so loud that Nijinsky had to climb a chair in the wings to shout instructions to his dancers.

But even by the second performance the reaction had died down (though Puccini, who was there, averred that it was “the work of a madman. The public hissed, laughed – and applauded”).  Of course today, Le Sacre du printemps sounds altogether familiar to ears raised on film scores; and Stravinsky’s ballet is widely agreed to have paved the way for “modern” (twentieth-century) music.

Dancers in the original production of The Rite of Spring



Written by (Roughly) Daily

May 29, 2014 at 1:01 am

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