100 years ago, a disgruntled Paris audience flatly rejected a piece of music that today is a revered and oft-performed orchestral work.
The Rite of Spring was composed by a young Igor Stravinsky, and through music and dance told the story of a primeval village ritual that culminated with the sacrifice of a young maiden. It was received by the restive 1913 Paris audience with boos and jeers as they witnessed a darker, almost incomprehensible score from what they were used to or expecting.
This story demonstrates the power of disruption. What matters is that The Rite of Spring was rejected by a Paris audience in its debut performance—and so to gained notoriety—but went on to be a musical journey audiences and listeners still want to take. Stravinsky boldly introduced a brand new sound to audiences—whether they wanted it or not—and ultimately started a whole new paradigm as listeners over time grew to appreciate The Rite of Spring for the stunning, difficult and amazing piece that it was.
While these types of disruptive innovations open wonderful new sensory experiences, initial rejection for such innovations is something artists have faced throughout history.
Greek Renaissance Artist El Greco had unconventional artistic techniques and beliefs, and was met with criticism and confusion and initially dismissed for his dramatic and expressionistic style. It wasn’t until the 20th Century that his works gained appreciation, and today he is one of the most revered artists of his time.
Author John Kennedy Toole penned the American tragicomedy A Confederacy of Dunces, which was called pointless and rejected each time he attempted to get it published. He committed suicide in 1969, in part due to this failure, but his mother pursued publishing his manuscript. Toole received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1981, 11 years after his death.
Electrical Engineer Nikola Tesla spent years trying to sell his idea of alternating current, but because it was in opposition to direct current—made the standard by Thomas Edison—he faced rejection. Tesla was also behind numerous other revolutionary scientific breakthroughs for which he went without credit until long after his death, simply because the world was not ready for those ideas.
Disruptive innovation is good. It challenges us and keeps us on our toes. And like that song you didn’t love the first time you heard it, but now have on repeat, different does not necessarily mean bad.
There are Stravinskys everywhere, innovating and disrupting what we have complacently come to know and accept—like black box speakers, for instance. At ClearView Audio, we are disrupting music technology with our revolutionary invisible speaker, Clio, fusing design and technology for a truly new way to listen to your music.