Jeopardy question: For $2000 under the category of Flaming Cauldrons, What was the piece of music playing when the cauldron was lit at the Sochi opening ceremony? Unfortunately, you are going to have to remember the scene. Apparently NBC and the Olympics Committee learned from the best, the NFL, about controlling video on internet. I couldn’t find any video of the event other than NBC’s post wrap-up which is playing some folk music that NBC dubbed in. Then again remembering the ease of finding videos of Queen Elizabeth’s dive out of the helicopter in the London games, perhaps larger geopolitical forces are involved. In any event after a more than reasonable search I could not find a YouTube of the cauldron lighting. So play back your memories and name the tune that was playing as the Olympic flame shot up the curved pedestal of the cauldron.
|What piece of music was playing?|
Image Credit: Julio Cortez/Associated Press
Give up? Can't remember? See below.
“What is the finale from The Firebird by Igor Stravinsky, Alex.”
The Firebird is a ballet written by the Russian composer Igor Stravinsky in 1910. It was the work that launched Stravinski’s career through a successful collaboration with Sergei Diaghilev, the founder of the Ballets Russes.
The ballet is about a Prince Ivan who captures a magical glowing bird that in exchange for its life helps Ivan win the hand of one of the princess of the enchanted Kashchei the Immortal. For more information on The Firebird or Stravinsky, click the embedded links in the paragraph above. While I am not a particular fan of ballet, I often love the music of Russian ballets.
The best way to listen to this piece of music, of course, is from the beginning and listen to the entire composition. However, because it is a ballet, there are long sections that emphasize the active dance movements and have a rather chaotic quality, much like the soundtrack of an action movie during the battle scenes, great for the action but not something that you are going to hum to yourself. This is one continuous work and it is not broke up into movements. Again while I recommend listening to the entire work, if you find yourself getting bogged down, here are the melodic parts which would be a shame to miss.
Listen to the first 5 minutes or so and when you decide that the chaos factor is too high for you, grab the slider at the bottom of the video pane and slide it to 18:50 and listen until 25:00. It gets fairly chaotic again, so slide it to 36:16 for a very beautiful bassoon solo and the concluding 10 minutes of the piece.
If you just want to hear the part that coincided with the lighting of the Sochi cauldron, move the slider to 42:55.
If you would like to see the actual ballet with dancing, use the following links to view videos. The first one is a bit more formal and the quality of the music is good. The video quality is so so.
For a somewhat more theatrical performance with a more intricate stage design and close-up video shots of the dancers, try the link below. The video quality is better but there are some tacky visual effects and the audio quality is inferior to the video above.
In both of the videos, pay attention to the small motions with the hands and feet that the Firebird (ballerina in red) mimics bird movements--wonderful choreography.
Image & Video Credits:
Lighting of the Cauldron: Julio Cortez/Associated Press from bleacherreport.com, Olympic Torch Lighting 2014: Best Moments from Opening Ceremony of Sochi Games, Feb 7, 2014.
Firebird Video: YouTube, Stravinsky: The Firebird / Gergiev · Vienna Philarmonic · Salzburg Festival 2000, Josep489