Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Remembering Pierre Monteux and Stravinky's 'Rites of Spring'

My grandfather, the late Pierre Monteux, was the conductor of the 1913 world's premier of Stravinsky's "Rites of Spring" in Paris, France. A close and trusted friend of Stravinsky, it was he that introduced the world to the composer's new and controversial music. Monteux also conducted the world's premier of Stravinsky's "Petrushka" in 1911 and his "Le Rossignol" in 1914, both also in Paris.

Last year, the anniversary, I heard many tributes to Stravinsky, but only once heard my grandfather's name mentioned. While Stravinsky and Diagliev stood in the wings, it was my grandfather that stood on the podium and took the full brunt of the audience's reaction, including various vegetables that were thrown at the stage. At the end, the three of them escaped through a back door.

Of course now we accept and appreciate the greatness of Stravinsky's genious, but back in 1913 it was my grandfather that put his own reputation on the line for a close friend. Pierre Monteux went on to conduct dozens of the world's finest orchestras, including many years with the San Francisco and Boston symphonys. He was a great musician that was loved the world over.

So, please, please mention his name when you perform the "Rites of Spring" and in doing so keep his role in the history of music alive and well.

Thank you very much!

Robert Barendse