Debussy, Préludes (1910, 1913)

"Music is the silence between the notes." – Claude Debussy

Claude Debussy, a French composer known for his unconventional use of melody, harmony, and timbre wanted a piano to sound as if it were "floating" and had no hammers. In his
Préludes for solo piano, published as two books in 1910 and 1913, he composed twenty-four pieces that each create a different mood and sound quasi-improvised. I have embedded a recording of the Préludes performed by the pianist Krystian Zimerman, a recording that, for me, perfectly captures the impressionistic spirit of Debussy. (You may need the Spotify web player or app to listen to the Préludes from the embedded playlist.)

As a bonus, I have also embedded an arrangement for five cellos of "The Girl with the Flaxen Hair," the eighth prelude of the first book, and an orchestral version of "Fireworks", the twelfth prelude of the second book.

"The Girl with the Flaxen Hair," SAKURA cello quintet

"Fireworks," Sir Simon Rattle conducting the Berlin Phlharmoniker
Animation by Victor Craven

Billy the Kid in Silver City

Few American lives have more successfully resisted research than that of Billy the Kid. It is almost as if he decided at birth to leave behind as little documentary trace as he could of his entry into, and passage through, the world. – Frederick Nolan, The West of Billy the Kid

By most accounts, Henry McCarty (later known as Billy the Kid) was thirteen years old when he arrived in Silver City, New Mexico, and those who knew him at the time reported that he was no more a problem than any other boy. In fact, he may have been better behaved than most.

By the time he left Silver City in 1875 at age fifteen he was on his way to becoming one of the most famous thieves and killers in U.S. history. My novel
Catherine's Son attempts to explain his transformation in a way that conforms to what I think are the main themes of his life.

And I want to make clear that the story I tell in
Catherine's Son is a work of fiction. Although every significant character in my book is based on a real person in the Kid’s life, I make no claims to unadulterated accuracy in telling their stories.

Billy the Kid's Home in Silver City

If more had been known about the two years Henry McCarty lived in Silver City, I could have told his story as nonfiction. But the documented record of his life during those years is sketchy. Only two articles from local newspapers and the recollections of a handful of people who knew him can be used to assemble any narrative at all.

We know from one newspaper, for example, that Henry’s mother died in September 1874. The obituary was short, prompting many questions about her life before coming to Silver City.

"Died in Silver City on Wednesday the 16th. Catherine, wife of William Antrim, aged 45 years. Mrs. Antrim with her husband and family came to Silver City about one year and a half ago, since which time her health has not been good, having suffered from an affection of the lungs, and for the last four months she has been confined to her bed. The funeral occurred from the family residence on Main Street at 2 o’clock on Thursday." – Silver City Mining Life, September 19, 1874

We know from another newspaper that Henry escaped from jail on September 25, 1875, one year and nine days after his mother died.

"Henry McCarty, who was arrested on Thursday and committed to jail to await the action of the grand jury, upon the charge of stealing clothes from Charley Sun and Sam Chung, celestials sans cue, sans joss sticks, escaped from prison yesterday through the chimney. It is believed Henry was simply the tool of “Sombrero Jack” who done the actual stealing whilst Henry done the hiding. Jack has skinned out." – Grant County Herald, September 26, 1875

Almost everything else that is known about Catherine and her son Henry during their Silver City years is based on a few interviews with those who knew them personally, as well as general assumptions about their lives gleaned from the town’s historical record.

Long after Billy the Kid died, several people who had known him in Silver City spoke about what they remembered about him and his mother. The people who offered recollections included the town sheriff (Harvey Whitehill), his teacher (Mary Richards), a good friend of his mother's (Mary Hudson), and several people who were roughly his same age (Wayne and Harry Whitehill, Louis Abraham, Chauncey Truesdell, Charley Stevens, and Anthony Connor). All told, Henry was described by those who knew him as a generally likable, well-mannered, and sometimes mischievous boy.

Only two people who spoke about him offered an indictment of his character. Harvey Whitehill, said he had “a proclivity for breaking the Eighth Commandment,” and Charley Stevens said that he “was a schemer, always trying to figure out some way of putting something over to get money.”

Despite what Whitehill and Stevens said, many other people offered a much different view of Henry McCarty.

One of Henry’s friends, Louis Abraham, said that Henry came from “an ordinary good American home.” Abraham also said, “Henry was a good boy, maybe a little [more] mischievous at times than the rest of us with a little more nerve.”

Another friend, Chauncey Truesdell, said, “[Henry] was quiet … and never swore or tried to act bad like the other kids.”

Mary Richards, Henry’s teacher, described him as “a scrawny little fellow with delicate hands and an artistic nature … always quite willing to help with the chores around the schoolhouse. He was no more of a problem than any other boy growing up in a mining camp.”

In describing Henry’s mother, Louis Abraham said she was “a jolly Irish lady, full of life and mischief. [She] could dance the Highland Fling as well as the best of the dancers.” Abraham also said she was “as good as she could be. [She] always welcomed the boys with a smile and a joke.” One of Catherine’s friends, Mary Hudson, said, “[She] was a sweet, gentle little lady, as fond of her boys as any mother could be.”

Billy the Kid's mother? (an unconfirmed photo)

My original motivation for writing Catherine’s Son stemmed in large part from testimonials such as these and the fact that the portrait they painted of Henry McCarty did not conform to images of Billy the Kid as a black-hearted villain.

If Billy the Kid deserved the notorious reputation he gained toward the end of his life, one can’t help but wonder what happened to change him. How did a “scrawny little fellow with delicate hands and an artistic nature” end up on the wrong end of Pat Garrett’s gun?

Historian Frederick Nolan may have said it best in
The West of Billy the Kid when he wrote that Henry was “a bright, alert, intelligent boy with an impish sense of humor, thrown early and unprepared upon his own inner resources … doing the best he could in a world that rarely extended a helping hand.”

Anthony Conner, who claimed to have been a boyhood friend of Henry’s, is often quoted in history books describing Henry as a good boy who loved to read. Connor, however, may not have moved to Silver City until after Henry had left the town. For that reason, Conner has not been used as a character in my novel.

Nevertheless, information provided by Connor has been used in my book to help flesh out Henry’s character. To me, much of what Conner said rings true when I look at other descriptions of Henry, and even if Connor didn’t know Henry McCarty personally, he may have been relating what people in Silver City had told him after he moved there.

Jerry Weddle, who wrote
Antrim is My Stepfather’s Name, an excellent book that primarily deals with Henry’s life in Silver City, provides this composite description of the young man who became Billy the Kid.

"Young Billy liked to dress well, and everyone noticed his neat appearance and clean habits. He was unfailingly courteous, especially to the ladies. Like his mother, he was a spirited singer and dancer. He had an alert mind and could come up with a snappy proverb for every occasion. He read well and wrote better than most adults. A taste for sweets resulted in bad teeth, and two of his upper incisors protruded slightly. His rambunctious sense of humor always got a laugh, whether it be on himself or someone else. Because of his small stature, he took a lot of ribbing from those bigger and stronger, but what he lacked in size he made up with tremendous energy and quick reflexes. Anxious to please, eager to impress, willing to take extraordinary risks, Billy would dare anything to prove his worth. The other schoolkids soon realized that he had genuine courage. – Jerry Weddle, Antrim is My Stepfather’s Name

In the end, so little is actually known about Billy the Kid’s short life that readers must forever beware of books claiming to tell the “real” story.

The date and location of the Kid’s birth, for example, is conjecture, even though most writers place his birth in New York City in 1859. The name given to him at birth is also open to debate, even though most say his name was Henry McCarty. Historians know he had a brother named Joseph or “Josie,” but it’s not
known whether Henry and Josie shared the same father. Historians also argue over whether Josie was younger or older than Henry.
The identity of Henry’s father is unknown, and there are numerous questions about Henry’s mother, Catherine, especially her life before moving to Silver City, New Mexico. Historians speculate that she was an Irish immigrant but cannot confirm it. We know that she lived for a time in Indiana before moving to Wichita, Kansas, where she evidently owned and operated a successful laundry. She was also probably involved in Wichita politics and reportedly became the only woman to sign a petition calling for the incorporation of the town.

Although an understanding of Catherine’s life in Wichita comes from some documentation, no records exist of Henry or his brother before March 1, 1873. On that date, they served as a witnesses in Santa Fe to the marriage of their mother and a man named Bill Antrim. Within a few weeks after the wedding, Catherine and Bill then moved with Henry and Josie to Silver City in the southwestern corner of the New Mexico Territory.

Henry’s years in Silver City provide many false stories to feed the myth of Billy the Kid. One famous story said that he committed his first murder in Silver City, killing a man for insulting his mother. It’s also been said that he slit the throat of a Chinaman in Silver City. According to those who knew him in Silver City, those stories were simply not true. Legend has even proclaimed that while he lived in Silver City he used a knife to decapitate a neighbor’s kitten. If so, there’s no mention of that event or anything like it in any of the interviews with the people who knew him at the time.

Any writer trying to tell the story of Henry’s life in Silver City must resort to speculation and guesswork to fill the gaps in his story. Much of the myth surrounding Billy the Kid is no doubt a result of the insufficiency of the historical record, and few characters in American history are surrounded by as much mythology as Billy the Kid.

As the author of
Catherine’s Son, I plead guilty to using speculation and guesswork to tell the Kid’s story. I simply hope that my version of how Henry McCarty became an outlaw is plausible enough to be entertaining and thought provoking. The book, after all, is a work of fiction.

Billy the Kid is a controversial character, to say the least. For some, the Kid was a symbol of rebellious youth standing up to the overwhelming force of New Mexico’s political and financial power structure. For others, he was no more than a murderous thug.

Regardless of the position one takes, this much seems true: Billy the Kid was a charismatic young man with a pleasant disposition and an instinctive ability to escape from trouble. In so many words, even Pat Garrett, the sheriff who killed him, described him in those terms.

In the final analysis, Billy the Kid was an outlaw and thief who killed at least four men and was ultimately sentenced to die for killing an officer of the law. The degree to which someone wants to believe he was justified in his actions and should have been pardoned for his crimes is open to debate. The argument will always be contentious and emotional.

So much has been written about the last four years of the Kid’s life—his participation in the Lincoln County War, his capture and sentencing, his escape from jail, and his death at the hands of Pat Garrett—that I had no desire to add another book to that part of his story. Instead, what I wanted to explore was a narrative of his life during the years before he became an outlaw, the time he lived in Silver City with his mother and the time he was learning how to survive without her after she died.

I might have approached his life during those years much differently, developing the theme that his criminal nature was evident from the beginning. If so,
Catherine’s Son would have told the story of delinquent child, a wild boy causing his mother much concern and distress before her premature death. I have no doubts that a version of the Kid’s life based on that theme would have made a good story. But that’s not the story I wanted to tell.

For me, the historical record, although unreliable, paints a different picture. In a book titled
Antrim is My Stepfather’s Name, Jerry Weddle wrote about reconciling “the difference between a hostile press, politically motivated by the Lincoln County War, with the warmer perceptions of those who actually knew him.”

In the end, I wrote Catherine’s Son in the spirit of reconciling that difference. If anything, I hope I have provided readers with a story worth reading.

"Like fairy tales or folk songs, all versions are true. The more versions there are, the truer it is."

– Phil Lesh, bassist for the Grateful Dead when asked which version of a song
that the Dead never played the same way twice was the “true” version

Mahler’s First Symphony: Victory and Paradise

Gustav Mahler’s symphonies rank among the most challenging and rewarding pieces of music ever composed. If you listen to them often enough and gain the familiarity that comes with repeated hearings, you should gain a deeper understanding of the unique emotional power of Mahler’s music. Mahler, quite simply, composed some of the most inspirational and spiritually satisfying music you will find.

I especially enjoy the accessibility of Mahler's First Symphony (1888) and its relatively easy-to-follow musical narrative. It has always served me well as an introductory work for humanities students before progressing to more difficult pieces of music, whether those pieces are written by Mahler or other composers.

The "Story" within Mahler's First Symphony

Mahler’s First begins with an awakening of Nature and the anticipation of a new day. This awakening is followed by a section in which we meet the symphony's hero, a wayfarer who finds much beauty in the world. We learn in the third movement, however, that the hero must confront the darkness. We also learn in the third movement how the hero gains wisdom and peace of mind sitting under a linden tree next to a grave. During the fourth and final movement, the hero is thrust into The Inferno. Life is not easy and the struggles that life brings might easily crush the hero's spirit. We learn through the
Victory Motif in the trumpets and the Paradise Motif in the French horns that the hero's spirit (a metaphor for the human spirit) will endure. Even in death, the hero finds victory.

What to Listen for in Mahler’s First

1. Mahler quotes himself liberally. Understanding Mahler’s First requires us to know other pieces of music Mahler has composed. In the First Symphony, for example, the main theme of the first movement (4:18 on the video below) comes from a song Mahler wrote titled "Over the Fields I Went This Morning.” The theme represents the joy of being alive, especially when living in harmony with Nature. ("I love this world so much," sings the Wayfarer.) In the third movement Mahler quotes a song he composed titled "The Two Blue Eyes of My Beloved” (30:37-32:08 on the video below). The song is about the tranquility that a tired traveler finds under a linden tree. (This section of music serves as a great example of how Mahler can break your heart.)

2. Anticipation of music to come. Mahler often uses themes and motifs to foreshadow what will come later in a symphony. An astute listener of his First Symphony should therefore not be surprised by the sudden and shocking trip into the Inferno that begins the fourth movement. Mahler foreshadowed this trip during the first movement (13:21-14:30 on the video below).

3. The Undertow. No matter how much joy or peace of mind Mahler provides with his music, we are often reminded of the "undertow" that threatens all of us. In the midst of an idyllic awakening of Nature at the beginning of the First Symphony, Mahler uses a terrifying chromatic bass motif (3:30 on the video below) to remind us of the pain that life can bring. (Mahler certainly understood life's pain – eight of his siblings died in infancy, two more died as young adults, and his daughter died at age four.)

4. The Breakthroughs! Mahler is a master at providing extended sections of stress and tension followed by musical "breakthroughs." In short, Mahler provides many goose bump moments that will thrill and inspire his audiences. (Start at 44:00 on the video below. Listen for the breakthrough at 44:47 followed by the Victory Motif in the trumpets at 45:04 and the Paradise Motif in the French horns at 45:17.)

Movement 1 – 00:44
Movement 2 – 16:20
Movement 3 – 25:07
Movement 4 – 35:40

Leonard Bernstein conducting the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of Mahler’s death in 1911, Deutsche Grammophon conducted an internet poll to select the greatest recordings of Mahler’s Symphonies. The results of the poll led to a 13-disk collection of Mahler's nine symphonies gathered together in a set titled Mahler: The People’s Edition. Buy the set and listen to legendary recordings at a reasonable price. The recording selected for Symphony No. 1 is performed by the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Rafael Kubelik.

Oscar Peterson's Master Class

The distinguished Oscar Peterson (1925-2007) was a Canadian jazz pianist who was trained in the European classical tradition. This short video of Mr. Peterson explaining styles of jazz piano is a gem. All told, the video provides six examples of jazz piano.
  • Stride (Art Tatum)
  • Two-Fingered Percussiveness (Nat King Cole)
  • Lyric Octaves (Errol Garner)
  • Relaxed Block Chords (George Shearing)
  • Double Octave Melody Lines
  • Tonality-Based

As for Peterson's own style, here's how it's described in
A Natural History of the Piano by Stuart Isacoff
“The Peterson style was always characterized by rapid, graceful, blues-tinged melody lines unfurled in long, weaving phrases with the inexorable logic of an epic narrative; and, equally important, a visceral sense of rhythm, transmitted with fire and snap. Those qualities for which he was renowned — effortless fluidity and clockwork precision — were not merely aspects of his playing; they were the very foundation on which his artistic expression rested. And pulling them off required the highest level of athletic prowess.”

Schubert, Notturno in E-flat major (1827)

Franz Schubert was born over 229 years ago, and his music sounds as beautiful today as ever. The Notturno in E-flat major is one of many soulful masterpieces from the heart of one of history's greatest composers. I can almost guarantee it will be a piece you want to hear again and again.

The piece is composed in
ternary (ABA) form. Use the time indicators below to identify the beginning of each section in the Eggner Trio's performance.
  • 0:00 – Section A
  • 2:25 – Section B
  • 4:50 – Section A1
  • 6:10 – Section B1
  • 7:48 – Section A2
Eggner Trio

Sibelius, Symphony No. 5, Third Movement Finale (1915)

Although Sibelius’s Fifth Symphony seemingly has three movements, the first movement contains an allegro and a scherzo, providing the feeling of four movements for the symphony. In its entirety, the symphony can be heard as a “struggle” leading to the “victory” heard in the beautiful “Swan Theme” at 1:24 in the video below. The theme was said to be inspired by the swan calls Sibelius heard after watching sixteen swans taking flight at once.

Note the unusual ending for the symphony.

Esa-Pekka Salonen conducting the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra

Canteloube, "Baïlèro" from Songs of the Auvergne (1930)

If you have never heard Baïlèro ("The Shepherd's Song") by Joseph Canteloube, I recommend taking six minutes to give it a listen. Baïlèro, quite simply, is one of the most beautiful songs ever composed.

Baïlèro is sung in
Auvergnat, which is a dialect of the Occitan language from southern France. Occitan is rarely heard today, and the French government refuses to give it any official recognition or status, claiming it is merely a dialect of the French language. Occitan is actually a Romance language that is much older than French.

Between 1923 and 1930, Canteloube wrote a collection of songs in the Auvergnat dialect. Baïlèro is the most famous of those songs.


Anna Caterina Antonacci, soprano
François-Xavier Roth conducting the BBC National Orchestra of Wales

Stravinsky Causes a Riot

History books are traditionally divided into chapters that attempt to compartmentalize the ebb and flow of historical change. In most cases, however, historical change is not orderly and well-defined. History is not always marked by clear beginnings and endings. Even so, now and then, a single event turns everything upside down and transforms a society — the attack on the Bastille in 1789, the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in 1914, the stock market crash in 1929. Those events clearly marked new “chapters” in human history.

Music history — like political and economic history — also has its earth-shattering moments, the moments when everything changes. Monteverdi’s
L’Orfeo (1607) changed European music forever, as did Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony (1805) and Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde (1865). All three of those works shook the foundations of music and made it difficult for composers to continue using the traditional rules of composition that had preceded them. Another such moment in music history came on May 29, 1913, when The Rite of Spring by Igor Stravinsky premiered at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris.

Théâtre des Champs-Élysées

The first performance of The Rite of Spring caused such an uproar that most accounts of the audience’s reaction referred to it as a “riot.” Even though the ballet’s unusual choreography may have had as much to do with causing a commotion as the music, we cannot avoid describing The Rite of Spring as one of the most significant and influential pieces of music ever composed.

The Rite of Spring was the third ballet by Stravinsky for the Ballets Russes. Sergei Diaghilev, a Russian art critic and entrepreneur, created the Ballets Russes in 1909 when he brought Russian ballet dancers to Paris. Employing the finest dancers in the world, Diaghilev gained much fame combining music, scenery, costumes, acting, and drama into what Richard Wagner had once described as “Artwork of the Future.”

During the first season of the Ballets Russes, Diaghilev produced performances of classic ballets with music by Chopin and Rimsky-Korsakov. During the second season, however, Diaghilev scheduled performances with new music. The first ballet commissioned by Diaghilev with new music was
The Firebird by Stravinsky. At the time, Stravinsky was an unknown Russian composer, a former pupil of the great Rimsky-Korsakov.

The Firebird, which premiered in June 1910, became a hit, leading Diaghilev to commission another ballet from Stravinsky. That ballet, titled Petrushka, made Stravinsky an international star and Diaghilev asked Stravinsky for a third ballet — The Rite of Spring. At its premiere the audience was full of aristocrats and celebrities, and Paris was primed for a major social event. Little did the audience know they were about to make history by witnessing an event that would scandalize Paris and revolutionize the language of music.

The Rite of Spring paints a picture of a primitive and pagan world, a version of primeval human beings paying tribute to nature with rituals related to spring. During the ballet, a young virgin is selected for sacrifice and then dances herself to death.

Parisian painters had already been influenced by primitive art and had created a new artistic style known as Fauvism. “Fauvists” (or “Brutes”) painted with wild brush strikes and jarring colors.
The Rite of Spring might be described in the same terms. The combination of modernist music and dancing went far beyond what some members of the audience at the premier performance were willing to accept.

Carl Van Vechten, an American writer and photographer, attended the premier and later describe the chaos in his book
Music After the War.

“A certain part of the audience, thrilled by what it considered to be a blasphemous attempt to destroy music as an art, and swept away with wrath, began very soon after the rise of the curtain to whistle, to make catcalls, and to offer audible suggestions as to how the performance should proceed. Others of us who liked the music and felt that the principles of free speech were at stake bellowed defiance. The orchestra played on unheard, except occasionally when a slight lull occurred. The figures on the stage danced in time to music that they had to imagine they heard, and beautifully out of rhythm with the uproar in the auditorium. I was sitting in a box in which I had rented one seat. Three ladies sat in front of me, one young man occupied the place behind me. He stood up during the course of the ballet to enable himself to see more clearly. The intense excitement under which he was laboring, thanks to the potent force of the music, betrayed itself presently when he began to beat rhythmically on the top of my head with his fists. My emotion was so great that I did not feel the blows for some time. They were perfectly synchronized with the music.”

In addition to Van Vecthen’s description, other well-known stories from that evening illustrate the controversial nature of the ballet.

  • A woman who was enjoying the performance stood up and spat in the face of a man who didn't like the music.
  • Another woman who was also enjoying the performance was seated in a theater box . When a boo bird in the box next to her got on her nerves she reached into his box and slapped his face. Her escort then challenged the boo bird to a duel.
  • The Princesse de Pourtalès walked out of the theater exclaiming, “I am sixty years old, but this is the first time that anyone dared to make a fool of me!”
  • The ambassador from Austria sneered and laughed out loud.
  • Music critic André Capu screamed that the music was a fraud.
  • Composer and music critic Alexis Roland-Manuel loudly defended the music, causing a protestor to tear the collar from his shirt.
  • Police came to the theater in large numbers and arrested over 40 people.
The well-known people at the performance included Marcel Proust, Pablo Picasso, Gertrude Stein, Maurice Ravel and Claude Debussy. Ravel shouted the word “genius” during the performance. Debussy pleaded with those around him to be silent and listen to the music. Meanwhile Vaslav Nijinsky, the choreographer, tried to jump into the audience to fight the protestors. Stravinsky held Nijinsky backstage to keep him from getting into a fistfight. The crowd's noise also prompted Nijinsky to stand on a chair shouting directions to his dancers as Stravinsky held his coattails.

Byron Hollinshead has edited a pair of books titled
I Wish I'd Been There in which distinguished historians answer the question, “What scene or incident in history would you most liked to have witnessed? Although I can think of several historical events I would like to have witnessed, the premier performance of The Rite of Spring would be near the top of my list.

If I had been at that performance, I would have wanted to attend as neutral observer, someone who was not taking sides. I would have wanted to watch that performance knowing what we know over 100 years later, fully cognizant of how much Stravinsky’s music was changing everything that came after. I wish I'd been there to see what it looks like when the world is shaken to its core and everything begins moving in a different direction.


Music Outline for
The Rite of Spring (LeSacre du Pintemps)

The two animated scores embedded below are among the best I have seen. The animations come from Stephen Malinowski and Jay Bacal at
Music Animation Machine. I find their work on The Rite of Spring riveting and thrilling. NPR called them "mind blowing."

Recording rendered by Jay Bacal using virtual instrument software from Vienna Symphonic Library

Part One: Adoration of the Earth

0:06 | 1. Introduction

3:18 | 2. Augurs of Spring (Dance of the Adolescents): The celebration of spring begins in the hills. Pipers play music and young men tell fortunes.

6:26 | 3. Game of the Abduction: An old woman enters. She knows the mystery of nature and begins to predict the future. Young girls with painted faces come in from the river in single file and begin the spring dance.

7:48 | 4. Spring Rounds: The young girls dance the “Spring Rounds.”

11:22 | 5. Games of the Rival Tribes: The people divide into two groups opposing each other and begin the “Games of the Rival Tribes.”

13:08 | 6. Entrance of the Wise Man: The holy procession enters with the wise elders led by the Wise Man.

13:48 | 7. The Wise Man: The Wise Man interrupts the spring games and the people tremble as the he blesses the earth.

14:09 | 8. Dance to the Earth: The people dance passionately and become one with the earth.

Recording rendered by Jay Bacal using virtual instrument software from Vienna Symphonic Library

Part Two: The Sacrifice

0:15 | 9. Introduction

4:54 | 10. Mysterious Circles of the Adolescents: At night, the adolescent girls engage in mysterious games, walking in circles.

8:10 | 11. Glorification of the Chosen One: One of the girls — a virgin — is selected as the Chosen One after being twice caught in a perpetual circle. The adolescent girls honor her with a marital dance.

9:36 | 12. Evocation of the Ancestors: The adolescent girls invoke their ancestors in a brief dance.

10:30 | 13. Ritual of the Ancestors: The Chosen One is entrusted to the care of the old wise men.

14:06 | 14. Ritual Dance of the Chosen One: The Chosen One performs a sacrificial dance and dances herself to death in the presence of the old wise men.

Chopin, Etude Op. 10, No. 3 in E major (1832)

"After playing Chopin, I feel as if I had been weeping over sins that I had never committed, and mourning over tragedies that were not my own." – Oscar Wilde

Valentina Lisitsa, piano

Borodin, Polovtsian Dance No. 17 (1897)

Music was only a hobby for Alexander Borodin, a Russian physician and chemist who worked tirelessly for women’s rights. In addition to the great music he composed, his legacy includes a School of Medicine for Women, which he established in St. Petersburg in 1872. What a guy! Make sure you stay with this video beyond the beautiful opening themes and don’t miss all the fun that begins at 4:06.

Gustavo Dudamel conducting the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra at the Sommernachtskonzert