May 1, 2020

May 1913 - Chronicles Of The Year Before The Great War

In May 1913, Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring is played and danced for the first time, at the newly-opened Théâthre des Champs-Elysées. The cream of the crop of the artistic world is there to witness it: Gabriele d'Annunzio, Claude Debussy, Nijinski, Maurice Ravel, André Gide, Diaghilev, Marcel Duchamp, and Coco Chanel.

"From the first note of the extremely high solo bassoon, roars of laughter can be heard--is that music, or a spring storm, or the noise of hell the outraged audience wants to know. Drumming everywhere, up on stage the dancers are in ecstatic motion--there's laughter, then, when the Parisians realize it is meant seriously, shouting. The devotees of the Modern, on the other hand, applaud from the cheap seats, the music rages on and the dancers get tangled up; they can no longer hear the music for all the noise."

It got so rowdy that the theater manager had to momentarily turn off the lights in the middle of the performance. This didn't stop the musicians from playing (despite getting things thrown at them), nor the dancers from dancing, despite the 'shouting and screeching.'

And thus was first received The Rite of Spring on May 29, 1913.

Source: Florian Illies's 1913 - The Year Before The Storm




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