When The Rite of Spring was first performed in Paris in 1913, it was greeted with a riot. After the shouting died down, it became possible to discern that Igor Stravinsky had created a monument of modern music, and the work has been universally regarded as such for half a century. Although it is widely studied in classes in music theory, no effort has yet been made to comprehend the extraordinary way in which its pitch materials are organized. This book will correct that omission. Allan Forte set forth his analytical approach fully in The Structure of Atonal Music (1973). Here he applies it in detail to a large-scale work that is familiar to every student of music. In his introduction Forte reviews certain technical aspects of his method in order to prepare readers for the close analysis that follows. He particularly considers general features of pitch and interval structures and the ways in which those structures may be interrelated to form coherent musical spans. Together the introduction and the analysis, with its more than 100 musical examples, both illuminate the structure of the music and demonstrate the way in which Forte's method may be applied in the analysis of complex music.
Allen Forte is professor of the theory of music at Yale University.