An in depth exploration of Igor Stravinsky's Le Sacre du Printemps ("The Rite of Spring") for Seminar In Musicology Summer I 2009 Dr. Melanie Foster Taylor Converse College

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Revisions of " Le Sacre du Printemps"

"If the making of The Rite , of its music, scenario, and choreography, is complex and difficult to reconstruct, the stream of corrections, emendations, out-right rewritings and retractions that followed its initial performance is, regrettably, an even more tangled web of confusion, contradiction, and conflicting evidence." (Van de Toorn Pieter p. 39)

Le Sacre du Printemps was perhaps Stravinsky's most seminal work. And being such there is a possibility that he could not leave it alone.(Walsh, Stephen p. 45) Like a voice mail message or a final note to an ex-lover he pried and pecked at it not willing to leave it as it was to stand for all time.

Robert Craft lists below resource materials related to The Rite 's revisions:

"Le Sacre du printemps : The Revisions," Tempo 122 (1977): 2–8; Appendix B,

"The Revisions," in V. Stravinsky and Craft, Stravinsky in Pictures and Documents , pp. 526–33; Appendix D, "Le Sacre du printemps : A Chronology of the Revisions," in Craft, ed., Stravinsky: Selected Correspondence , vol. 1, pp. 398–406.

The most comprehensive and detailed survey of the source materials, autographs, editions, and revisions is Louis Cyr, "Le Sacre du Printemps : Petite Histoire d'une grande partition."

A condensed version of this is Louis Cyr, "Writing The Rite Right," pp. 157–73 in Jann Pasler, ed., Confronting Stravinsky: Man, Musician, and Modernist (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986).

For a brief survey of the editions see Claudio Spies, "Editions of Stravinsky's Music," in Benjamin Boretz and Edward T. Cone, eds., Perspectives on Schoenberg and Stravinsky (New York: Norton, 1972), pp. 257–58.

Below is a table listing the major publishing dates and a very brief summary of the changes made in each.





RMV 196

Four-hand piano arrangement by Stravinsky. Barring of "Evocation" and "Sacrificial Dance" conforms to 1913 autograph, full score.


RMV 197
RMV 197b
(large and pocket scores)

First edition, released 1922. Barring of "Evocation" reverts to sketchbook version (pp. 73–74).


RMV 197
RMV 197b

Second, revised edition. "Edited by F. H. Schneider" (p. 3, pocket score). 20 pages newly engraved to cover 1926 reorchestration and re-barring of "Evocation" and "Sacrificial Dance."


Associated Music Publishers

Revised version of "Sacrificial Dance" completed in 1943. Major changes in orchestration, barring, and pitch. Unit of beat changed from 16th to 8th.


B&H 16333 (large and pocket scores)

Corrected reprint of 1929 revised edition, RMV 197. Copyright assigned to B&H 1947.


B&H 17271

Reprint of RMV 196 without modifications.


B&H 16333

Corrected reprint of 1948 edition. "Revised 1947 version"; "Reprinted with corrections 1965" (p. 1, large score); "Revised 1947" (p. 3, pocket score).


B&H 19441

Newly engraved edition. "Revised 1947. New edition 1967" (p. 1, large score); "Re-engraved edition 1967" (title page, pocket score).


B&H 17271

Corrected reprint of 1952 edition. 11 pages newly engraved, primarily for "Evocation" and "Sacrificial Dance."

The most tinkered with section of The Rite of Spring is the final movement The Sacrificial Dance . This movement went through a major overhaul in 1943 because Stravinsky was unsatisfied with the past performances of the work. (Van Den Toorn, Pieter p.40)

The 1943 revision of the "Sacrificial Dance" restored many of the pizzicato markings of the 1913 autograph and 1921 edition: pizzicato indications were added to the cello and double basses at nos. 142-49 and in the corresponding sections (nos. 1-9 in the 1943 score), while the pizz-arco alternation was reinstated for all strings including double basses at no. 192 to the end of the score (no. 53 + 3 in the 1943 revision) (Van den Toorn p.43)
in Expositions and Developments (1962), Stravinsky explained that with the longer measures in his earlier versions of both the "Evocation" and the "Sacrificial Dance" he had sought "to measure according to phrasing," but that later on, in 1921, his performance experience had led him "to prefer smaller divisions"; the "smaller divisions," he averred, "proved more manageable for both conductor and orchestra and they greatly simplified the scansion of the music. (Van den Toorn p.49 )

Despite his best efforts his revisions in 1943 did not stick.
"Most conductors have ignored the 1943 revision of the "Sacrifical Dance," with the unfortunate consequence that it has come to figure as just one of many appendages in the long line of revisions from the 1913 autograph to the newly engraved Boosey and Hawkes score of 1967." (Van den Toorn, Pieter p.40)


Van den Toorn, Pieter C. Stravinsky and The Rite of Spring. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987.

Walsh, Stephen. The Music of Igor Stravinsky. Oxford: Clarendon P, 1988.

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