On 29 May 1913, one of the biggest bangs in classical music history took place in the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris, being the premiere of The Rite of Spring, a ballet by Igor Stravinsky. A combination of the music, stage design, costumes, story and choreography led to a near-riot (or an actual one, depending on whose account you read. In an interview some time later, Stravinsky referred to Vaslav Nijinsky‘s “knocked-kneed and long-braided Lolitas”. There is very little information about the interview, but it is obviously some time later because 1) it was filmed and is now viewable on Youtube, 2) Stravinsky looks considerably advanced in years and 3) he uses the name Lolita in that way, placing the interview after the publication of Vladimir Nabokov’s novel in 1955 (when Stravinsky was 73). (Indeed, the poster of the video suggests the early 1960s.)

A lolita (more often lower-case, but Pages for Mac just upper-cased it), is now an alluring (at least to a certain kind of man) older girl or young teenager. (Nabokov’s narrator specifies the age range nine to 14; he also calls them demoniac, placing the blame on them rather than himself.) Even though The Rite of Spring is about a pagan fertility ritual, it is questionable as to how alluring the dancers were or are, or were or are meant to be.

But the name Lolita goes back further than Nabokov’s novel. Dolores is a good Spanish name (Maria Dolores, Saint Mary of the Sorrows), which became Lola, which became Lolita. 

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Dawn rising on a spring morning

The subtitles for a music education video referred to the first section of Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring as “Dawn Rising on a Spring Morning on a Farm in Appalachia”. I wondered if that was the official title of the section (in which case it would be in upper case) or a simple description of it (in which case it would be in lower case), because a) I have never heard or read that the individual parts have titles, and b) the title Appalachian Spring was suggested by the choreographer Martha Graham after Copland had completed the score, so he wasn’t thinking about spring mornings in Appalachia when he wrote it,* and the title must have been applied retrospectively. (The presenter’s spoken inflection didn’t make it clear whether he was using it as a title or a description.)

I searched for “dawn rising on a spring morning” and got 

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