How to listen to Stravinsky's Rite of Spring

Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring is an amazing piece of classical music. It’s one of the rare pieces that was really revolutionary in its time. But in our time, almost one hundred years on, it doesn’t sound that different.

Music has moved on. We are used to the odd times of “Take Five” and the dissonant horns of a John Williams soundtrack. Music offending the status quo is nothing unheard of.

To enjoy Rite of Spring in its proper context, you have to forget all that. Put yourself in the shoes of a Parisian in 1913, probably well off. You probably just enjoyed a Monet and a coffee. But your world is changing. Something about workers revolting. A transition from manual labor to mechanical labor.

Now imagine yourself at the premier for this new ballet from Russia. You being a Parisian, you’re probably expecting something along the lines of Debussy or perhaps Debussy or Berlioz.

Instead, you get mild dissonance and then total chaos. The changing time signatures, the dissonance, the subject of virgin sacrifice. You’d probably riot too!

Adam Keys @therealadam