Siege Diaries 4/6/2021

Today’s Daily Stoic writing prompt:  Despite the worst things people do, can I love them anyway?


I will not give love to those who do not treat me–or those I care about–with basic respect.  I cannot love those who seek to harm me.

I can treat them with civility, or I can remove myself from their presence, but I can’t love them.  

Things I didn’t expect to be writing about, but when The Intertoobs hand you a gift, you take it, the special anniversary edition.

Today is apparently the 50th anniversary of Igor Stravinsky’s death.   There are a few Stravinsky pieces I absolutely love, but nothing surpasses Rite of Spring. I’ve had a recording of that in my CD collection since forever.  It was one of those pieces that I think I learned about in 7th grade General Music and could never quite get out of my mind, despite the fact that 20th century music was absolutely not my style for years.   But who can resist a tale like that of the work’s premiere, which caused an actual riot?

The music is intense enough, but as I understand it, it was less the music than the actual ballet itself that caused the scandal (very likely by design).  And I’d heard descriptions of the choreography, seen pictures of the costumes, but never actually seen what it looked like.  Until tonight.

The first video below (also discovered today) provides a humorous-but-accurate account of the composer and the events around the composition and staging of Rite of Spring in Paris in 1913, as well as a rundown of the plot of the ballet.  The second is a reconstruction of the ballet itself.  You get to see Valeri Gergiev (with a full-sized baton instead of the famous toothpick) conducting a huge orchestra absolutely jammed into the pit of the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg. You get to revel in the vaguely-proto-Slavic costumes and stylized, pantomimed movement.   And you realize that the dancing itself adds additional percussion and sound effects to an already percussion-rich work.

And yes, I can see why it would be scandalous to anyone who was used to classical ballet.  This is clearly modern dance–and my experience is that modern dance and ballet are really quite different things, usually done by different dance companies (although there is more crossover now than there was 100 years ago).  I’m sure there are people who would see this today and claim that it’s not ballet at all.  Also, all props to the dancer who dances the role of the girl who sacrifices herself through dance. She’s basically jumping around for close to 5 minutes.  I’d probably keel over dead after that, too.

And here’s your extra bonus content: The Classics Explained video for Pictures at an Exhibition, which happens to share a CD with my recording of Rite of Spring. Here you’ll get to meet kawaii Mussorgsky, how he got into the Mighty Handful (aka The Five, which is always a good number), and learn what all those pictures were and what they were doing at an exhibition.

(Pictures at an Exhibition was supposed to be the highlight of the first concert to be cancelled due to the pandemic last Spring. )