Navigate To

Reflections on the Rite

Welcome to Reflections on the Rite!  If this is your first time visiting, please check out this post for a brief introduction.  


That other centennial

The Rite of Spring isn’t the only piece to turn 100 years old in the 2012-2013 concert season.  One hundred years and three days ago, Arnold Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire premiered in Berlin.  Let’s take a listen:

The revolution caused by Pierrot Lunaire was more small-scale than that of The Rite, but no less important.  And, in a way, it retains some of the shock value that The Rite has lost — Schoenberg’s uncanny Sprechstimme, or speech-song, and his angular atonality still upsets a large swath of the classical music audience.  One thinks of this:

As you’ll recall, Pierrot was actually the original vision for a centennial festival at UNC, as proposed by Professor Severine Neff.

Though interdisciplinary, combining cabaret with modernism, Pierrot doesn’t exactly easily create a season-long celebration.  It has a mythic status among composers, musicologists, and fans, but lacks that Riot Story that keeps The Rite in the public consciousness.  That said, it is a critical work of the early 20th century, and an astounding piece of music.  Boulezian has more on the centennial, and I wrote an article for NewMusicBox on the history of the so-called Pierrot Ensemble, the combination of instruments created by Schoenberg in his piece that weaves its way through the rest of 20th century music.

Check back next week for a Spring Encounter by Proper Discord, and if we have time, finally an opportunity to parse out the Riot.  But who knows? There’s also a gigantic academic conference beginning on Thursday, and the Mariinsky Orchestra is on its way.

-Will Robin

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *