The Rite of Spring

composed by Igor Stravinsky
arranged for piano/four-hands by Igor Stravinsky


Arguably one of the defining works of the twentieth century (and of all time), Igor Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring remains as startling and powerful as ever.  From its legendary 1913 premiere in Paris -- which, like many compositions of that era, sparked a riotous uproar -- to nearly a century later, this masterwork continues to electrify with its savage rhythms, harmonic daring, and mythical weightiness.

Narratively based on the rituals and sacrifices performed by a pagan tribe to win the benevolence of the gods of spring, the piece culminates with the offering of a young virgin who dances herself to death. At its core, The Rite of Spring is about primitive instincts and emotions, from the brooding omens at the work’s opening to the terrifying abandon of “Dancing Out of the Earth” heard at the conclusion to Part I. 

This work bears a greater symbolic import as an encapsulation of the tumultuous sociopolitical climate of the early 20th century. Perhaps this is why the work resonates with such fierce impact in our own complex age. Furthermore, the music bespeaks a certain rite of passage that is universal in the human experience: the loss of innocence, the poignancy of discovery, the claiming (or reclaiming) of personal liberation. “The Rite of Spring” transformed the face of culture, and Stravinsky’s version for piano/four hands brilliantly brings the music’s clashing dissonances, percussive edge and overwhelming force to the fore.

— Greg Anderson & Elizabeth Joy Roe