Rhythmic Structure in Stravinsky's "Le Sacre du printemps"
Rhythmic Structure in Stravinsky’s “Le Sacre du printemps”
The following thesis was written in 1970 as part of the requirements for an MA in musicology from the University of Pittsburgh. It is now 50 years old. Nevertheless, it contains information and ideas that will probably be new to most readers.
Were I to write this today, it would be somewhat different (probably excluding some instances of youthful exuberance), but, in essence, I stand behind the basic analyses of the work. I would use the word “dimension” instead of “parameter,” and there are a few other changes in structure and style that I would probably make. Still, I believe that this paper contains a more rational and historically-based approach than other analyses of “Le Sacre,” particularly those of Boulez, with which the bulk of the paper makes contrasting arguments. For those who don’t read French, the explanations I’ve made of Boulez’s analyses should suffice. Both the French original and English translations of “Relevés d'apprenti” can be found online, and citations of the location of the English translations of the French quotations used are in the footnotes of the paper.
There are, perhaps, a few historical question marks to be made, such as the almost-standard belief that the original performance of “Le Sacre du printemps” by the Ballet Russes caused a mêlée to the degree often cited. In actuality, all of Diaghilev’s scheduled performances took place, and some scholars today believe that people, perhaps even Stravinsky himself, may have later exaggerated the reality of the audience’s behavior at the premiere in order to make the event more of a cause célèbre.
Finally, I apologize for the poor physical nature of this download. The original paper was, of course, typewritten, with most of the illustrations being hand- written or (poorly because of the technology of the times) photocopied and pasted into the paper; this makes any OCR conversion essentially impossible. The original version of the paper is in the University of Pittsburgh Music Library. What I have is merely a copy of a copy, and so I have had to scan the paper from an already inferior source. Even so, I think that the paper is still readable and I hope that some will find it of interest and value.
Due to the nature of this paper, it cannot be displayed online. To access the paper, you must download the PDF file; please click on the file title below: