Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring is 95 years old this year and is still fresh.
And, sometimes, still controversial. I remember that when Pierre Monteux, who had conducted the riotous premiere in Paris in 1913, conducted it again with the Boston Symphony in 1957, 200 people walked out. Ten years later I heard it played by the Oregon Symphony, and one of Portland’s honorable music critics demanded the next day to know why the city’s intelligent audiences should be assaulted with such noisy, insulting trash.
The Boston Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Music Director James Levine, will be playing Rite of Spring at concerts on December 4 (open rehearsal at 10:30, regular concert at 8:00 pm) and again on December 5, 6, and 9.
I especially remember the first time I listened to a record of The Rite of Spring while following the orchestra score. Confronting that score was one of the most amazing experiences of my life, a remarkable initiation for a kid of 17 whose previous familiarity with orchestra scores had been limited to miniature scores of Beethoven and Schubert symphonies. It was the first folio-size study score I had ever seen, the Kalmus pirated reprint of the 1923 score published by Editions Russe de Musique, Koussevitzky’s own publishing house.