Boléro is a very famous musical composition composed by Maurice Ravel which premiered in 1928. It was composed as a ballet commissioned by Russian actress and dancer Ida Rubinstein. It is said the Boléro epitimizes Ravel’s preocupation with restyling and reinventing dance movements. It was also one of the last pieces he composed before illness compelled him to retire.
Ida Rubinstein wanted Ravel to write an orchestral transcription from Isaac Albéniz‘s set of piano pieces, Iberia. However Ravel ended up creating an entirely new piece on the musical form and Spanish dance Bolero. He went to the piano and played a melody with one hand and said to his friend, ‘Don’t you think this theme has an insistent quality? I’m going to try and repeat it a number of times without any development, gradually increasing the orchestra as best I can.”
The composition was a sensational success when it was premiered at the Paris Opéra. Ravel preferred the stage design of an open-air setting with a factory in the background, reflecting the mechanical nature of the music. Ravel presumed that most orchestras would refuse to play it, but much to his surprise it became his most famous composition. It is said that during the premiere performance a woman screamed that Ravel was ‘mad’. When he was told about this he replied that she had understood the performance.
References: Bolero – Wikipedia