Lecture Series - Stravinsky, the Ballets Russes & The Rite of Spring

March 16, 2021

If you are unable to attend the live session, do not worry - all those who register will automatically be sent copies of the lecture to view in your own time (from around four hours after they take place).


The uproar that greeted the premiere of The Rite of Spring, in May 1913, has gone into legend. Yet paradoxically this most revolutionary of musical masterpieces is deeply rooted in tradition. Peter Hill will explore and illustrate how ancient and modern come together in the dazzling creations of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes in the years before 1914 – in the sets and costumes of Benois and Bakst, the dancing and choreography of Fokine and Nijinsky, and in the glittering scores (for The Firebird, Petrushka and the Rite) composed by Diaghilev’s greatest discovery, Igor Stravinsky.

In search of the Rite - Tuesday 23 March 2021 

The search for the Rite’s origins begins with the revival of folk arts and music in 1860s Russia. A key figure is the railway tycoon Savva Mamontov whose crafts workshop at Abramtsevo has links with the brilliant group of artists and dancers in turn-of-the-century St Petersburg who were to be brought together by the genius of Diaghilev. Diaghilev’s determination to bring Russian art and music to the West began with an exhibition in Paris, followed by concerts, opera, and finally (from 1909) ballet and the establishing of the Ballets Russes. It was into this world that Stravinsky, then totally unknown, was drawn in the autumn of 1909 with the commission to provide the music for a new ballet, The Firebird.
The Creation of the Rite - Wednesday 24 March 2021
Stravinsky’s vision of a ballet based on a maiden dancing herself to death as a sacrifice to the god of spring came to him early in 1910, before he had become an overnight celebrity with the premiere of The Firebird in June that year. The gradual evolution of the Rite, interrupted by the composition of Petrushka (1911), owes much to Stravinsky’s collaborator, the visionary artist and designer Nikolai Roerich. The original production (1913) is vividly brought to life by the recollections of the dancers and musicians, by photographs and contemporary drawings of the dancers executing Nijinsky’s choreography, and by the multi-coloured inks of Stravinsky’s manuscript sketchbook as he meticulously works out his explosive musical ideas.
 PH for web    

Peter Hill

Peter Hill is a pianist, writer and broadcaster (peterhillpianist.co.uk) who gives recitals, masterclasses and lectures around the world. His recorded cycles of Messiaen and of Berg, Schoenberg and Webern have gained superlative acclaim, with the Messiaen described as "one of the most impressive solo recording projects of recent years" (New York Times) and receiving the composer’s endorsement: "Beautiful technique, a true poet: I am a passionate admirer of Peter Hill's playing." Peter has recently embarked on a series of Bach recordings (for Delphian) with Book 2 of the Well-Tempered Clavier chosen as CD of the Week on BBC Radio 3. Writings include books on Stravinsky and Messiaen, among them a biography (Messiaen, Yale) based on unprecedented access to the composer’s archive. Peter is a Professor Emeritus at Sheffield University and in 2008 was awarded the annual prize for musical scholarship by the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris.


Format for Lecture

Peter will give two one-hour illustrated lectures for £19.  He will also illustrate his talk with live piano. 

You will not need to download any software and the lecture will work in any browser. For the best experience use a desktop or laptop - but it will also work on an iPad or similar tablet.

     Register for Lectures - 23 & 24 March at 11am     

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