As the 100th anniversary of Igor Stravinsky's ballet The Rite of Spring approaches, commentator Miles Hoffman reminds us that — as earthshaking as that infamous debut was — the composer soon branched out into a variety of musical styles that would surprise his fans and critics.
Hoffman says that, up until the infamous (and riotous) Rite of Spring debut — on May 29, 1913 — the public had never heard anything like it. Still, it can be viewed as the end of an era, as opposed to the start of something new.
"In some ways, The Rite can also be seen as much as a culmination as a revolution," Hoffman says. "It was the culmination of what one music scholar called 'musical maximalism.' Throughout the 19th century, the orchestras were getting bigger and bigger; the power and intensity of unlimited musical expression with orchestral forces had been growing. And with The Rite of Spring, maximalism reached a kind of peak."
Where to go from there? The composer, Hoffman says, went just about anywhere he wanted, stylistically speaking.
"If Stravinsky started out as a revolutionary, it wasn't too long before he became a counterrevolutionary," Hoffman says. For his 1920 ballet Pulcinella, Stravinsky borrowed from music written in the 18th century and gave it a fresh twist. It was a far cry from the jagged rhythms of The Rite.
"This piece ushered in a whole new style, or trend, in 20th-century music," Hoffman says. "It was called neo-classicism. The big forces were stripped down; old musical forms were resurrected and the emphasis shifted to a kind of musical cleanliness. There was clarity, sparkle, pungency, humor, even irony in the music."
It was ironic in the sense that Stravinsky was capable of shaking the heavens. But in Pulcinella and his other neo-classical works — like the Dumbarton Oaks Concerto — he chose small groups of musicians to bring these modest old musical forms to life in a new language. Stravinsky was always remarkably adventurous.
"He went wherever his artistic ideas took him and wherever he thought he could do something good and interesting," Hoffman says. "Later in his life, he even wrote pieces in the so-called 12-tone style pioneered by Arnold Schoenberg."
But is there a unifying Stravinskian trait? Hoffman points to Pablo Picasso for an explanation.
"I think there's a parallel with Stravinsky," Hoffman says. "His style never stayed exactly the same, but there's always something in his music that grabs you. Something that's inescapable. And that's why we still care about Stravinsky. The revolutions, the counterrevolutions, all the categories, all the trends he set, they're all important. But ultimately, they are only important because they were the work of a unique genius."
Miles Hoffman is a violist with the American Chamber players and the author of the NPR Classical Music Companion.
The Interstate 5 bridge over the Skagit River at Mount Vernon, Wash., collapsed Thursday, leaving an unknown number of people and vehicles in the water.
The Skagit Valley Herald reports: "Rescue crews have swarmed to the area to redirect traffic around the site and look for people still in the river. Traffic is reportedly backed up at several roadways and authorities are in the area attempting to help people out of the water."
The newspaper reported that three rescue boats and several private vessels are on the river, trying to reach people sitting on their cars in the water.
Trooper Mark Francis told The Associated Press that the bridge collapsed at 7 p.m., but did not why.
Update at 11:59 p.m. ET. More Details
NPR's Martin Kaste just spoke to our Newscast team. Here's his initial report:
"From what we're hearing from initial reports, a steel bridge going over the Skagit River, this is an interstate bridge between Seattle and Vancouver, B.C., collapsed right around 7 p.m. Pacific. There are sketchy initial reports that perhaps an oversized truck may have struck part of the bridge although that's unconfirmed."
We also have more links to coverage of the collapse:
Update at 12:45 a.m. ET, Friday. More Details
The Associated Press quotes authorities as saying there were no fatalities or suspected fatalities. Three people were rescued from the water and were sent to area hospitals.
Queens of the Stone Age's first album in six years follows an unusually chaotic stretch for the band: Lineup and label changes, frontman Josh Homme's lengthy stint in the hit supergroup Them Crooked Vultures, and what Homme calls "a manic year" all inform the brooding, stormy sound of ...Like Clockwork. But QOTSA has always worn storminess well, as Homme presides over a dense, textured, unpredictable sound that's equal parts mystery, intensity, beauty and bluster.
The band's sixth album, out June 4 on Matador Records, ...Like Clockwork features guest performances by Dave Grohl (one of three drummers onboard), Elton John, Trent Reznor, Scissor Sisters' Jake Shears, Mark Lanegan and more. But QOTSA's streamlined its lineup for this First Listen Live performance at The Wiltern in Los Angeles on May 23. QOTSA performed ...Like Clockwork in its entirety, plus a generous assortment of older material, including "No One Knows," "Kalopsia" and "A Song For The Dead."
- "Keep Your Eyes Peeled"
- "You Think I Ain't Worth a Dollar, But I Feel Like A Millionaire"
- "Sick, Sick, Sick"
- "First It Giveth"
- "No One Knows"
- "My God Is the Sun"
- "I Sat by the Ocean"
- "The Vampyre of Time and Memory"
- "I Never Came"
- "If I Had a Tail"
- "Turnin' on the Screw"
- "Burn the Witch"
- "Make It Wit Chu"
- "Smooth Sailing"
- "Little Sister"
- "I Think I Lost My Headache"
- "Go With the Flow"
- "I Appear Missing"
- "...Like Clockwork"
- "Feel Good Hit Of The Summer"
- "A Song For The Dead"
For gearhead purists, the Fast and the Furious franchise is an ongoing heresy, the sins adding up with each new sequel. The appeal of the genre has always been its simplicity: Greasers racing for pink slips, their muscle cars grinding and screeching and speeding into the horizon.
The Fast and the Furious has moved the genre into the digital era, replacing the force of metal against metal with the unreal bobbing and weaving of an arcade game. And now at five sequels and counting, it's become freighted with the mythology of a George R.R. Martin series, with characters and incidents cobbled together like so many spare parts under a giant chassis.
The 2011 entry, Fast Five, intelligently accommodated the bloat by bringing the gang together for an Ocean's Eleven-style heist in Rio. The streamlined plot had the effect of channeling the series' excesses into a handful of giddily over-the-top action set pieces. The CGI ballet of flying sports cars and twisted wreckage may insult the physics of gearhead classics — to say nothing of the laws of Isaac Newton — but no one could say director Justin Lin doesn't go full throttle.
Now, with the series' lovable rogues dispersed to various tropical locales, each living high off their share of $100 million in ill-gotten money, Fast & Furious 6 has to find a new reason to bring them all together — and it's not nearly so graceful with the heavy lifting.
Porting over a plot from some generic spy thriller, Furious 6 opens with Dwayne Johnson's DDS agent from Fast Five coaxing Dominic (Vin Diesel), Brian (Paul Walker), and the rest of their crew (Tyrese Gibson, Chris Bridges, Sung Kang and Gal Gadot, among others) out of early retirement to stop a powerful mercenary with terrorist designs.
Former British Special Forces operative Owen Shaw (Luke Evans), now an underground operator with deep connections, seeks a computer chip that could lead to mass destruction in the wrong hands. The authorities, naturally, are are too weak and/or corrupt to bring him to justice.
Dominic and Brian have no interest in risking their necks for Johnny Law, but when it's revealed that Dominic's deceased former girlfriend Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) is actually alive and running with Shaw's gang, they're eager to rescue her and bring her back into the family. (Fans will recall that Letty died in Fast & Furious, the fourth of the series, and the groundwork for her return was laid at the end of the last entry; death has about as much finality in Fast times as it does in a daytime soap.)
Fast 6 pits Shaw's crew against Dominic's in a high-tech battle royale, but it has a devil of a time explaining why everyone should hop into their cars. The obligatory underground racing sequence here — in a London that looks no different from the scenes in Miami or Rio — is such an afterthought that the big race has no finish line and no winner. Lin peppers the film with action beats, including a good piece of hand-to-hand combat in a subway station, but the fact is that the surveillance work necessary to track down Shaw is more practically accomplished on foot.
That leaves Fast & Furious 6 to invest the lion's share of its resources in a highway duel that's as cheerfully ridiculous as any sequence in the series. (One word: tank!) For a 15-minute stretch, Lin and his effects team cut loose with high-speed jousting, massive explosions and countless feats of derring-do no actual human could survive.
It's glorious while it lasts, but then the film goes back to figuring out how to keep its oversized vessel from taking on water. And that's more hard work than it's worth.
A jury considering a sentence for Jodi Arias, convicted earlier this month in the brutal murder of her one-time boyfriend, Travis Alexander.
Arias, 32, faces a possible death sentence on her first-degree murder conviction.
According to The Associated Press "a new panel likely will be seated to try again to reach a decision on a sentence — unless the prosecutor takes death off the table [and] agrees to a life sentence."