The Rite of Spring: The Music of Modernity by Gillian Moore - review by Rupert Christiansen

Rupert Christiansen

A Riot in Two Parts

The Rite of Spring: The Music of Modernity


Apollo 208pp £18.99 order from our bookshop

Over a century after its legendary premiere in Paris in 1913, Stravinsky’s ballet The Rite of Spring remains an essential work of modernism. It has been performed on numerous occasions across the world and has been recorded more than 150 times; it has been bastardised and plagiarised in the scores for such films as Fantasia and Psycho; and it has inspired the likes of Frank Zappa, Radiohead, and countless other jazz and rock performers.

Gillian Moore’s succinct, lucid and beautifully illustrated book explains the history of this unique musical phenomenon with a keen sense of its broader significance. She starts with its gestation in the milieu of the Russian diaspora in western Europe during the years preceding the First World War.

Stravinsky worked with the painter Nicholas Roerich to develop a musical ‘adoration of the earth’, culminating in the sacrifice of a virgin. But the ballet’s roots also lie in a desire – distantly inspired by William Morris and the Arts and Crafts movement – to reject the Frenchified rococo

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