Hear 46 Versions of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring in 3 Minutes: A Classic Mashup

In 2013, New York’s most pop­u­lar clas­si­cal music sta­tion WQXR cel­e­brat­ed the cen­ten­ni­al of Igor Stravinksy’s The Rite of Spring, with a series of events that cul­mi­nat­ed in Rite of Spring Fever, 24 hours of dif­fer­ent per­for­mances of the work and a live solo inter­pre­ta­tion by Bang on a Can pianist Vicky Chow.

As a pro­mo­tion­al post­ing, WQXR also cre­at­ed this mashup of 46 record­ings in 3 min­utes, show­ing the vary­ing approach­es to Stravinsky’s score, and the wild­ly dif­fer­ent dynam­ics of inter­pre­ta­tion.

Six­teen years after the work’s tumul­tuous live pre­miere in 1913, both Stravin­sky and con­duc­tor Pierre Mon­teux com­pet­ed to record the first ver­sion in 1929 in Paris. That was fol­lowed in 1930 by Leopold Stokows­ki and the Philadel­phia Orches­tra, whose re-record­ed ver­sion would become the most famous when it appeared in Walt Disney’s Fan­ta­sia. That film did more to bring Stravin­sky to wide swathes of soci­ety, from kids to grand­par­ents, than any oth­er per­for­mance. Plus it had frickin’ dinosaurs:

Phil Kline, the com­pos­er and cura­tor of WQXR’s event, notes that it was high-fideli­ty LPs, not 78s, that real­ly brought the dynam­ics of Rites into its own. “Few oth­er clas­sics so des­per­ate­ly need to be heard with a wide dynam­ic range, espe­cial­ly on that big bot­tom end,” he writes.

This mashup is pret­ty schizoid, but shows the per­son­al­i­ties and influ­ences of each con­duc­tor: Leonard Bern­stein cre­ates a col­or­ful and sparkling Rite; Pierre Boulez is like a machine; Kara­jan is thun­der­ous. The var­i­ous piano inter­pre­ta­tions lose none of their bite after being resigned to the key­board. And Stravinsky’s 1960 record­ing with the Colum­bia Sym­pho­ny Orches­tra (aka the New York Phil­har­mon­ic, renamed for con­trac­tu­al rea­sons) is also here, sound­ing just that lit­tle bit sweet­er than the rest.

Via Kot­tke

Relat­ed Con­tent

Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, Visu­al­ized in a Com­put­er Ani­ma­tion for Its 100th Anniver­sary

Vi Hart Uses Her Video Mag­ic to Demys­ti­fy Stravin­sky and Schoenberg’s 12-Tone Com­po­si­tions

The Avant-Garde Project: An Archive of Music by 200 Cut­ting-Edge Com­posers, Includ­ing Stravin­sky, Schoen­berg, Cage & More

Ted Mills is a free­lance writer on the arts who cur­rent­ly hosts the FunkZone Pod­cast. You can also fol­low him on Twit­ter at @tedmills, read his oth­er arts writ­ing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.

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