Now that the centenary riot celebration is over, it’s time to take in two contrary views.
The Telegraph critic Ivan Hewett asks whether any riot took place at all, or whether it was just another piece of Diaghilev hype and showmanship. I find his proposition a little far-fetched given the number of independent eyewitnesses, but make up your own minds here.
My own take on the Rite, in the new issue of Standpoint magazine is that, far from being a rejection of modernity, what affronted the Paris public was the fear of being dragged back to pre-classical primitivism. There were two concert riots in 1913, one triggered by Schoenberg, the other by Stravinsky. Both were triggered by an affront to bourgeois expectations and, I argue, a reversion to primal modes of music. My proof?
Where was the next riot? Trumpeted by the media, the Rite of Spring should have incited copycat brawls in dozens of theatres, howls of urban outrage, hyperactive manifestos. And nothing happened. Aside from two disturbances in Vienna at the outbreak of Arnold Schoenberg’s atonalities and a certain amount of hissing in London when Henry Wood repeated them at the Proms, the public sat back in their seats and let radical novelties wash over their nodding heads.
Why was there never another concert riot? Read on here….