Modernism in Music


Paris’ Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, on May 29, 1913, was the setting of the most notorious event in the musical history of this (20th) century — the world premiere of The Rite of Spring. Trouble began with the playing of the first notes, in the ultrahigh register of the bassoon, as the renowned composer Camille Saint-Saens conspicuously walked out, complaining loudly of the misuse of the instrument. Soon other protests became so loud that the dancers could barely hear their cues. Fights broke out in the audience. Thus Modernism arrived in music, its calling card delivered by the 30-year-old Russian composer Igor Stravinsky.

So began Phillip Glass’s 1998 review of Igor Stravinsky’s impact on the music world, one of my favorite parts of education.

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