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Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring

Episode 4 of 5

Ivan Hewett tests if harmony is a reflection of history using Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. With Gerard McBurney. From 2017.

Ivan Hewett examines a chord from Stravinsky's Rite of Spring to test the idea that harmony is a reflection of history. He's joined by musicologist Gerard McBurney and Professor Valentine Cunningham.

Music is never created in isolation - it's conceived in relation to what's going on around a composer in terms of personal and historical events, new technologies, new ideas and artistic endeavours in other fields. In this series, Ivan Hewett is looking at five very different chords which amply demonstrate the concept that harmony is a reflection of history.

Each programme is a bite size portion of rich musical and historical investigation - and each chord has had far reaching influence on other music and is emblematic of its era.

Stravinsky wrote his ballet The Rite of Spring for the 1913 Paris season of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes company with choreography by Nijinsky. The ballet famously caused a riot at its premiere, largely because of the dance and the music - but partly also because the sense of clash that we hear in this famous chord was, in some senses, a reflection of tensions in the air.

Ivan Hewett is a writer on music for the Daily Telegraph, broadcaster on BBC Radio 3, and teacher at the Royal College of Music.

Producer: Rosie Boulton
A Monty Funk production for BBC Radio 4.

Available now

15 minutes

Last on

Fri 3 Apr 2020 02:15


  • Thu 12 Jan 2017 13:45
  • Wed 30 Aug 2017 09:30
  • Thu 2 Apr 2020 14:15
  • Fri 3 Apr 2020 02:15

Five chords that changed classical music for ever

Five chords that changed classical music for ever

Ivan Hewett reveals five groups of notes which continue to resonate down the centuries.