Performance Saturday, February 23, 2013 | 1 PM

Discovery Day: The Rite of Spring

Weill Recital Hall
One hundred years ago in Paris, Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring—widely acknowledged as the most influential work of the 20th century—exploded onto the world stage. Explore the revolutionary aspects of the piece and trace its pervasive influence on 20th-century culture in this day of panel discussions and film screenings.

This event is part of Salon Encores.


  • Richard Taruskin, Keynote Lecturer
  • Lynn Garafola
  • Osvaldo Golijov
  • David Lang
  • Jeremy Geffen, Moderator


  • Richard Taruskin

    Richard Taruskin is an American musicologist, historian, and critic who has written about the theory of performance, Russian music, 15th-century music, 20th-century music, nationalism, the theory of modernism, and analysis. As a choral conductor, he directed the Columbia University Collegium Musicum and Cappella Nova. He played the viola da gamba with the Aulos Ensemble from the late 1970s to the late 1980s. Dr. Taruskin received his doctoral degree in historical musicology (1975) from Columbia University. He taught there from 1967 to 1986, when he joined the faculty of the University of California, Berkeley. Since 1997, he has been UC-Berkeley's Class of 1955 Professor of Music.

    Dr. Taruskin has received various awards for his scholarship, including four from the American Musicological Society: the Noah Greenberg Award (1978), Alfred Einstein Award (1980), and Otto Kinkeldey Award (1997 and 2006). He was elected to membership in the American Philosophical Society in 1999 and to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2006. The Royal Musical Association of Great Britain awarded him the Dent Medal in 1987, and the Royal Philharmonic Society gave him its gold medal in 1997 for his two-volume monograph, Stravinsky and the Russian Traditions (1996), which shows the extent of Stravinsky's Russian inheritance-something that the composer tried hard to minimize. It is one of a number of books by Dr. Taruskin about Russian music, including Mussorgsky: Eight Essays and an Epilogue (1993) and Defining Russia Musically (1997), which deals more intensively and theoretically with issues of nationality and nationalism in music.

    Dr. Taruskin has also written extensively about matters relating to musical performance; his essays on that subject have been collected in a volume titled Text and Act (1995). His textbook Music in the Western World: A History in Documents, co-authored with Piero Weiss, was first published in 1984 and later reissued in a new and updated edition in 2007. Dr. Taruskin's most recent books are the six-volume The Oxford History of Western Music, on which he worked for 13 years before its publication in 2004, and two volumes of articles and essays written over the years for The New York Times, The New Republic, and other public outlets: The Danger of Music and Other Anti-Utopian Essays and On Russian Music (both 2009).

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  • Lynn Garafola

    Lynn Garafola is a professor of dance at Barnard College in New York City. A dance historian and critic, she is the author of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes and Legacies of Twentieth-Century Dance. She has also edited several books, including The Diaries of Marius Petipa (which she also translated); André Levinson on Dance: Writings from Paris in the Twenties (with Joan Acocella); Rethinking the Sylph: New Perspectives on the Romantic Ballet; José Limón: An Unfinished Memoir; and The Ballets Russes and Its World.

    Ms. Garafola has curated several exhibitions, including Dance for a City: Fifty Years of the New York City Ballet at the New-York State Historical Society; 500 Years of Italian Dance: Treasures from the Cia Fornaroli Collection with Patrizia Veroli; New York Story: Jerome Robbins and His World; and Diaghilev's Theater of Marvels: The Ballets Russes and Its Aftermath.

    A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Ms. Garafola is a former Getty Scholar and a recipient of fellowships from the Social Science Research Council and National Endowment for the Humanities. Former editor of the book series Studies in Dance History, she has written for Dance Magazine, Ballet Review, Dance Research, The Nation, Times Literary Supplement, and many other publications. A member of Columbia University's Harriman Institute and the organizer of conferences, symposia, and public programs on the history of ballet and 20th-century dance, she is currently working on a book about choreographer Bronislava Nijinska.

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  • Osvaldo Golijov

    Osvaldo Golijov grew up in an Eastern European Jewish household in La Plata, Argentina, where he was surrounded by classical chamber music, Jewish liturgical and klezmer music, and the new tango of Astor Piazzolla. After studying with Mark Kopytman at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, he moved to the US in 1986 and earned his Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied with George Crumb. As a fellow at the Tanglewood Music Festival, he learned from Oliver Knussen.

    In the early 1990s, Mr. Golijov began to work closely with two string quartets, the St. Lawrence String Quartet and the Kronos Quartet, who were the earliest to project his volatile and category-defying style in its true, full form. Mr. Golijov also collaborates closely with conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya; vocalists Dawn Upshaw, Jessica Rivera, Luciana Souza, and Biella da Costa; cellists Yo-Yo Ma, Alisa Weilerstein, Maya Beiser, and Matt Haimovitz; kamancheh virtuoso Kayhan Kalhor; and percussionist Jamey Haddad. He has worked with the Atlanta, Boston, and Chicago symphony orchestras; the Silk Road Ensemble; and eighth blackbird.

    Mr. Golijov is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and the Vilcek Prize. In 2007, he was named the first composer-in-residence at the Mostly Mozart Festival. He has held similar positions at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; LA Phil LIVE; and the Spoleto USA, Marlboro Music, Ravinia, Ojai, Trondheim, and Holland festivals. Mr. Golijov is Loyola Professor of Music at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, where he has taught since 1991. He has also taught at Tanglewood and led workshops at Carnegie Hall with Dawn Upshaw. He continues to teach each summer at the Sundance Institute's Composers Lab.

    Mr. Golijov has scored the soundtracks for Francis Ford Coppola's Youth Without Youth, Tetro, and Twixt. Other recent works include Azul, a cello concerto for Yo-Yo Ma and the Boston Symphony Orchestra; She Was Here, a work based on Schubert lieder premiered by Dawn Upshaw and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra; and Sidereus, a piece commissioned by a consortium of 35 American orchestras in honor of Henry Fogel. He is currently working on a commission for the Metropolitan Opera.

    Mr. Golijov's works are published by Boosey & Hawkes and recorded by Deutsche Grammophon. Additional albums have been released on the Nonesuch, Sony Classical, Hänssler Classic, Naxos, Koch, harmonia mundi, and EMI labels.

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  • David Lang

    David Lang is one of the most highly esteemed American composers writing today. Musical America's 2013 Composer of the Year and Carnegie Hall's 2013-2014 Richard and Barbara Debs Composer's Chair,   Mr. Lang is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the 2008 Pulitzer Prize in music for the little match girl passion. The recording of this piece won a 2010 Grammy Award.

    In addition to the little match girl passion and death speaks, both co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall, Mr. Lang's other recent projects include the evening-length stage work love fail with Anonymous 4; reason to believe for Trio Mediæval and the Norwegian Radio Orchestra; concerto (world to come), premiered by cellist Maya Beiser and the Norrlands Opera Symphony Orchestra; darker, premiered by Musiques Nouvelles; writing on water for the London Sinfonietta, with libretto and visuals by British filmmaker Peter Greenaway; the difficulty of crossing a field, a staged opera for the Kronos Quartet; loud love songs, a concerto for percussionist Evelyn Glennie; and the oratorio Shelter with co-composers Michael Gordon and Julia Wolfe at the Next Wave Festival of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, staged by Ridge Theater and featuring Trio Mediæval.

    Upcoming commissions include a concerto for So Percussion and orchestra, and an encore for violinist Hilary Hahn as part of her In 27 Pieces: The Hilary Hahn Encores project. His music is used regularly in ballet and dance productions around the world by such choreographers as Benjamin Millepied, Twyla Tharp, Susan Marshall, and Édouard Lock. Mr. Lang's film work includes the score for Jonathan Parker's (Untitled), the award-winning documentary The Woodmans, and the string arrangements for the soundtrack to Requiem for a Dream, performed by the Kronos Quartet.

    Audiences around the globe are hearing more of his work in performances by the Santa Fe Opera, New York Philharmonic, Berlin Radio Choir, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Munich Chamber Orchestra, and Kronos Quartet. His music has been performed at Tanglewood; the BBC Proms; Munich Biennale; Italy's MITO SettembreMusica Festival; Sydney's 2000 Olympic Arts Festival; and the Almeida, Holland, Berlin, and Strasbourg festivals.

    Mr. Lang is co-founder and co-artistic director of New York's legendary music collective Bang on a Can with Michael Gordon and Julia Wolfe.

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  • Jeremy Geffen

    Jeremy Geffen has served as director of artistic planning at Carnegie Hall since March 2007. In this position, his responsibilities include program planning and development, as well as the creation of a wide range of audience education programs. Prior to his appointment at Carnegie Hall, Jeremy served as vice president of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra (2005-2007) and artistic administrator of the New York Philharmonic (2000-2005). In addition, he worked for the Aspen Music Festival and School as associate artistic administrator from 1998 to 2000. During that time, he also taught courses in music at Colorado Mountain College, hosted a weekly classical music radio show on KAJX, and became the Aspen Institute's youngest-ever moderator, creating and leading the seminar The Marriage of Music and Ideas with Dr. Alberta Arthurs in February and March 2000.

    Jeremy currently serves on the advisory entities for both the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center's CMS Two and the Avery Fisher Career Grant. He has also served as an adjudicator for numerous auditions and competitions, including the jury of the 2011 Wigmore Hall / Kohn Foundation International Song Competition, the nominating jury for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Music, and Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.

    A native of Cape Town, South Africa, Jeremy was raised in Newport Beach, California. While pursuing a bachelor of music degree in viola performance at the University of Southern California, Jeremy developed problems with his right hand that led him away from performance and into artistic programming, which combines his curiosity for and love of the breadth of the classical repertoire, as well as the artists who bring that repertoire to life.

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The Rite of Spring, The Sacrifice - Summoning of the Elders
MET Orchestra | James Levine, Music Director and Conductor
Deutsche Grammophon

About The Rite of Spring

Igor Stravinsky conceived of the ballet that became The Rite of Spring in the late spring of 1910; composed it between September 1911 and March 1913; endured the riotous fiasco of its premiere on May 29, 1913 (at which it was Vaslav Nijinsky's "disgusting" choreography, far more than the music, that offended); experienced through it, shortly before his 32nd birthday in 1914, the triumph of his career ("such as composers rarely enjoy," he recalled in old age); and spent the rest of his long life telling lies about it.

In 1920, he told a reporter that the ballet had been originally conceived as a piece of pure, plotless instrumental music. In 1931, he told his first authorized biographer that the opening bassoon melody was the only quoted folk song in the score. In 1959, he asserted, through his musical and literary assistant Robert Craft, that the work was wholly without tradition, the product of intuition alone. "I heard and I wrote what I heard," he declared. "I am the vessel through which [The Rite of Spring] passed." These allegations and famous words have passed into the enduring folklore of 20th-century music.

We now know that the ballet's scenario was a highly detailed and (but for the culminating human sacrifice) ethnologically accurate pair of "Scenes of Pagan Russia," as the ballet's original subtitle proclaimed. It was planned in painstaking detail by the composer in collaboration with the Russian painter and archeologist Nikolai Roerich (to whom the work was dedicated) before a note was written. The score contains at least nine identifiable folk songs, all of them selected with the same eye toward ethnographic authenticity as governed the assembling of the scenario. And the music magnificently embodies and extends the same immediate and local tradition, based on novel manipulations of a scale of alternating whole steps and half steps that Stravinsky's teacher, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, had educed from the works of Franz Liszt and imparted to all his pupils. (They called it the "Rimsky-Korsakov scale").

Stravinsky's mendacity was not the result merely of a faulty memory, but neither was it merely vain or cynical. Having renounced Russia in the wake of the Revolution and the Bolshevik coup, Stravinsky wished frantically not only to attach himself to the Western musical mainstream, but to maintain prominence—even dominance—within it. He zealously distanced himself from the parochial lore of his birthright and embraced an aggressively cosmopolitan ideology. Hence his insistence that his music—all his music—was "pure," abstract, (neo)classical, unbeholden to any specific time or place for its inspiration. And hence the legend of The Rite of Spring as a violent rupture with the past, when all the while it was an exuberantly maximalistic celebration of two pasts—the remote past of its subject and the more recent past of its style.

Now, in the year of The Rite of Spring's centennial, with the whole 20th century and all its musical politics behind us, we can face the truth. And perhaps we'd better. The Rite of Spring has become familiar and comfortable. Student orchestras can play it with ease and professional orchestras can play it in their sleep (and often do). We greet excellent performances of the work with the sort of euphoria or elation we feel not at grisly slaughters of the innocent, but at athletic events. Taking its ethnographic and folk-musical patrimony more seriously might help us recapture its darker side—a sense of the pitilessly "biological," anti-humanistic aura the ballet radiated to its earliest audiences, which caused them to react with mingled awe and horror.

—Richard Taruskin

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