Last Friday we saw the Joffrey Ballet's program "Russian Masters" which included (of course) Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring).
I heard that piece for the first time in college, at a 20th century music class, sometime in the late 1970s. Along with Prokofiev, Bartok, Ives, Debussy, and others we studied the Stravinsky work. I fell in love with the music and have always enjoyed listening to it at the CSO. That class taught me a lot about an era in classical music I knew very little about, having grown up with the 19th century Russian masters.
I remember the exams were very difficult. The professor would play a minute or two from one piece, anywhere in the piece, and we had to give the title, the composer, the year. I spent hours listening to the music at home, trying to memorize every note, every beat. It was excruciatingly challenging. I don't remember my grade but I enjoyed the class tremendously.
Thirty some years ago my aunt gave me a book about Nijinsky She liked to tell me about Diaghilev, Nijinsky and the Ballet Russes. She would whisper the fact that Diaghilev was in love with Nijinsky. I added all that to my knowledge store about The Rite of Spring. All the intrigue, love and hate, all the back story: what fun!
I hadn't seen the ballet performed before last Friday. What a treat! I loved it! I had only seen photos and drawings of the famous costumes but on the stage they looked alive. The choreography that caused a riot at the premiere in Paris left me energized. I walked out onto Wabash Avenue stomping my feet like the dancers. We should go see dance more often, I told David. Yes, we should.