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Petrouchka and The Rite of Spring (Le Sacre du Printemps)

Petrouchka, the second of the three great ballets Stravinsky composed between 1910 and 1913, unfolds in four scenes, or tableaux. The music closely follows the ballet's story line and gives vivid impressions of the scenes and events taking place on stage. While not as detailed as that of Petrouchka, the scenario for Stravinsky's ballet, The Rite of Spring, nevertheless provides a broad structure for the music. The score is divided into two large parts, each containing a series of shorter sections.

Gerard Schwarz, Conductor
Seattle Symphony Orchestra


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1.     Stravinsky Petrouchka First Tableau: Part I      

2.     Stravinsky Petrouchka First Tableau: Part II      

3.     Stravinsky Petrouchka Second Tableau: Petrouchka's Room      

4.     Stravinsky Petrouchka Third Tableau: The Moor's Room     

5.     Stravinsky Petrouchka Fourth Tableau: The Strove-Tide Fair     

6.     Stravinsky The Rite of Spring Adoration of the Earth Part I 

7.     Stravinsky The Rite of Spring Adoration of the Earth Part II 

8.     Stravinsky The Rite of Spring The Sacrifice Part I   

9.     Stravinsky The Rite of Spring The Sacrifice Part II   

10.                        Stravinsky The Rite of Spring The Sacrifice Part III   

11.                        Stravinsky's Early Life         

12.                        Listener’s Guide to Petrouchka        

13.                        Listener’s Guide to The Premiere of The Rite of Spring  

14.                        Listener’s Guide to The Rite of Spring Part I: Adoration of the Earth

15.                        Listener’s Guide to The Rite of Spring Part II: The Sacrifice 

16.                        Stravinsky's Later Life and Work       

Stravinsky the Modernist


 As the 20th century wound to a close, Igor Stravinsky stood securely as its most important and influential composer. For more than six decades his works defined modernism in music, just as Picasso’s canvasses showed the essence of modernism in painting. Like that great Spanish artist, who was almost his exact contemporary, Stravinsky attained a dominating stature in his field. Only a handful of composers rivaled him in significance during his lifetime. None surpassed him.

 Stravinsly’s pre-eminence among modern masters rests in large part on the great originality of his work. The composer introduced new rhythmic possibilities into concert music, made expressive use of dissonance and conceived unprecedented instrumental sonorities baffled some listeners early in the century and cemented the composer’s reputation as a daring modernist. Yet for all his innovation, Stravinsky was no iconoclast bent on destroying the past. On the contrary, his art was in many ways rooted in tradition. He drew inspiration from legends and fairy tales, from old Italian comedy and classic myths. And he loved music from earlier centuries and paid homage to it in a number of his works.


Stravinsky’s Early Life and Career

 Stravinsky was born in 1882 into a middle-class Russian family. His father was a singer with the Imperial opera company in St. Petersburg, and as a boy Stravinsky had a unique opportunity to listen to rehearsals and attend performances at the famed Maryinski Theater. Although he also received piano lessons and some instruction in the fundamentals of harmony, his parents hoped that he would forego a career in music for one in law. Stravinsky did enter the university at St. Petersburg to prepare for such a career, but music had already become his principal interest. Neglecting his courses, he became a pupil of Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov, the famous composer of Sheherazade. Under Rimsky-Korsakov’s tutelage, Stravinsky composed several promising early pieces, including a symphony, part of a fairy tale opera, and a brilliant orchestral tone poem called Fireworks. A performance of this last work led to a commission from the Paris-based Ballets Russes, or “Russian Ballet,” in February, 1909, an event that would change the course of Stravinsky’s life and thrust him into the forefront of the modern movement in the arts.