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Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring" was a seminal work in the history of music: it influenced a whole generation of composers who came afterwards.

1. Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring" was a seminal work in the history of music: it influenced a whole generation of composers who came afterwards. Can you think of something, whether it be in movies, music, art, or anything else, that has had that kind of impact? (Please try and think of a single work of art, not a whole stylistic trend, nor the artist(s) who may have created the work).

2. As we've seen, Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring" was an enormous shock for more than half of the audience that went to that first performance in 1913. That premier is still considered to be the greatest scandal in Western music history. How do you feel about shock value in contemporary popular music? Can you think of a particular instance where it's happened, and if so, was it something the artist/songwriter said or did personally or was it the song itself that was shocking? Finally, do you think the shock was part of the artistic value of the song, or was it done merely as a publicity stunt? In other words, was it honest or dishonest? (Keep in mind here that we are talking about artists and artistic creations. Please don't write about things such as Coca Cola, the Ipad, or video games).

3. Schoenberg was one of those great minds in history who felt he had a mission: at the beginning of the 20th century, he was convinced that there was nothing more to be done with tonal music, that composing music with a tonal center was "old hat." He felt that the next step in the evolution of music was atonality: music with no tonal center. Many did not agree with this: Stravinsky and other composers continued to write tonal music. The music of our own time is mostly tonal. With this in mind, can you think of good reasons why Schoenberg would arrive at the conclusion that he did? (Remember that Schoenberg was one of the greatest musical thinkers of the century and that his atonal system was not created merely to shock people, nor to be outrageous).

1. What are the characteristics of Impressionism in music? What elements of Impressionism do you detect in Debussy’s "Clouds?"

2. What do you find most interesting about Igor Stravinsky’s career?

3. Who or what commissioned Stravinsky to compose "The Rite of Spring?" What is it about? What relationship does "The Rite" have with the artistic movement known as Fauvism?

4. When did "The Rite of Spring" premiere, and how was it received? What factors contributed to such a reception?

5. Listen to Part 1 of Stravinksky's "The Rite of Spring".Discuss Stravinsky’s use of rhythm. How does the rhythmic energy connect with the story?

6. As you read the brief biography of Arnold Schoenberg, what strikes you as most interesting? Though little of his music is regularly performed, Schoenberg is widely regarded as the most influential composer of the 20th century. How does one account for this?

7. Listen to Schoenberg’s "The Moonfleck" from his expressionistic masterpiece, Pierrot Lunaire (it's very short, not quite two minutes). Who wrote the poetry? Among the innovations found in this piece, Schoenberg invented a new singing style called, "Sprechstimme". This new singing technique would later be adopted some seventy years later by a few alternative rock and roll bands, notably, Nine Inch Nails. What specifically is Sprechstimme? Why would Schoenberg want the singer to use this singing style in regard to Pierrot Lunaire (in other words, why couldn't the singer just sing the words in a normal fashion)?

8. In comparing Pierrot and The Rite, which one represents a greater break from Romanticism? Why? (Hint: consider which piece is still tied to expressing emotion and which is not).

9. What are the characteristics of Hungarian folk music? When Bela Bartok integrated Hungarian folk music into his own, what effect did this have compared to the modernist music of Stravinsky and Schoenberg?

10. Copland's "Appalachian Spring" won the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1945. Please listen to this music and compare it to "The Moonfleck" by Schoenberg that you listened to earlier. Copland's piece was written as part of a ballet; "The Moonfleck" is part of a song cycle. Name two other important differences between these two pieces. Which piece do you like best?


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