If you haven’t listened to much 20th century music, which to be honest most of us haven’t, then your ears just might not know what to do when you first listen to The Rite of Spring by Igor Stravinsky. The music is an accompaniment to a ballet, a ballet which tells the a fictitious story of sacrifice to the Russian gods of the seasons. And the music is equal in energy in every way to the story being told alongside it.
I remember the Rite of Spring as a unique challenge when I first encountered it in an orchestra. Changing from 5/8 to 9/8 to 3/8 and many other time signatures in rapid succession made for the most difficult counting and rhythmical experience I’d had to that point in my musical career. But playing the Rite was also a uniquely enjoyable experience. It’s such beautiful music.
Just listen to the immense strength of the basses and cellos at 8:55. And whatever you do, listen to the pulsing rhythm starting at 31:00 and escalating thereafter. There’s so much beauty and power throughout this strange and in many ways unparalleled example of musical genius.