The premiere of the ballet in 1913 caused a scandal. Commissioned by Diaghilev, the work describes a pagan ritual where a virgin dances herself to death. The riots that ensued in the theatre were a reaction to Stravinsky’s jarring rhythms and complex innovations, Nijinsky’s exotic choreography and Roerick’s bizarre settings.
The Piano Concerto by fellow Russian Rachmaninoff is contrastingly full of lyrical melodies. Often described as the greatest piano concerto ever written, the work is full of dialogue between orchestra and soloist.