Boléro (1928) – Maurice Ravel

Maurice Ravel

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

“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.”- Michel Legrand

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25 comments on “Boléro (1928) – Maurice Ravel
  1. Nadine says:

    “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.” I adore this ending to the piece!!! Very cool factoid.

    I remember first hearing of Bolero via the Bo Derek/Dudley Moore, movie, “10,” when I saw it in my youth.

    • Indeed a cool factoid. I’m glad you enjoyed it Nadine.
      I was trying to remember which movies/shows I’d heard the Bolero performed. That movie ’10’ you mentioned was a big hit with my old man. You have a good memory indeed if you remember the Bolero in that movie! I think I saw it as well in my youth, but I’m stuffed if I can remember anything in it. Cheers.

      • Nadine says:

        Lol, I mostly remember the Bolero more than anything else except Bo Derek’s bathing suit when she comes out of the sea. I remember thinking, I wished I looked so good in a nude-coloured bathing suit!! Haha. And the music, in the movie, was said to be the most romantic music ever made, something like that.

      • Come to think of it, I’m reminded of that scene from a full page photo in a cool movie book we had in our household….I must admit Bo Derek doesn’t do it for me, nor the perfect 10 body. I just watched the trailer in YT and it features the Bolero.
        It was purported to have the most romantic movie ever? Hehe How sweet.

      • Nadine says:

        That’s always nice to hear that kind of opinion on perfect 10 bodies, hehe. And most romantic music, not movie! Haha. Though I can think of more romantic music than Bolero. Just imho. :))

      • The music is very climatic until that orgasmic finale and I imagine being in the right company one could find it as romantic as any other. Lol

      • Nadine says:

        I know right?!?! I felt so daft right after I hit send on that comment. 😂There is NO more romantic music than Bolero. I think we should leave it at that. And try not to light up a cigarette. 😉😆

      • ‘And try not to light up a cigarette’ Haha I needed that belly laugh this morning! Cheers Nadine. Always a pleasure.

      • Nadine says:

        Hehehe likewise. :))

  2. macalder02 says:

    Es una pieza músical que no puede pasar desapercibida. Una delicia para los oídos.

  3. Bruce says:

    I never saw the movie “10” but remember fellow teachers discussing it and saying they’ll never be able to listen to “Bolero” again without thinking sex! The :use of “Bolero” I remember the most was ice-skaters Torvill and Dean.

  4. All my readers are coming out with the uses of Bolero music in popular culture. Where were you when I was writing this post?
    Yes, of course Torvill and Dean. Obviously my memory is slip, sliding away. Oh yeh, where were we? Sex,10 and cigarretes. I didn’t know blogging could be this invigorating.

  5. selizabryangmailcom says:

    Ravel would probably spin in his grave, though, knowing that his music was remembered mostly through a romantic comedy from the ’80s.
    Or maybe not. Maybe he’d be amazed!
    Had to look up Torvil and Dean. I have no memory of them, although I probably saw that performance.
    Ravel would be doubly amazed, ha ha.
    Yeah, it was kind of strange that Bo Derek was considered a 10 because she just looked malnourished to me. But a lot of people think the opposite, obviously.
    I also thought for a minute that Dudley Moore had killed himself, but I got him mixed up with Herve Villechaize.
    Sorry for that morose ending. Let me think of something cheerful. Hmm….
    Orgasmic finales and cigarettes….???
    🙂 🙂

    • Your remarks about Ravel are funny and probably true if he was suddenly revived and stumbled on this post haha.

      I remember watching Torvil and Dean but ice-skating was never my scene. I liked that recent film about Tonya Harding (I, Tonya) played by the Australian actress Margot Robbie.

      I can’t think of anyone famous that I would consider a 10, nor do I even think along those lines. I had a little crush on Winona Ryder in my youth. Who else, umm Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine does it for me in some weird f%/ked up way.

      I liked Dudley Moore in the Chevie Chase / Goldie Hawn movie ‘Foul Play’. I can’t recall any other movie I’ve seen him in.

      I’m glad you left on a good note. Lol

      • selizabryangmailcom says:

        One of Dudley’s biggest movies was Arthur. It’s a sweet little comedy co-starring Liza Minnelli.

        I remember Blue Jasmine! It was pretty good. Cate has an interesting face and an arresting presence, at any rate. Definitely has charisma–not so f***ked up if you ask me, lol. Everybody used to have a crush on Winona, I think. Did you ever see Heathers?
        I used to like (still do) Jason Patric. He was the best thing about Lost Boys. Still love Antonio Banderas and Benicio Del Toro. Used to have a crush on Jack Wild (Puff N Stuf) and Davy Jones from the Monkees. I think there’s a theme here. I guess I love brunettes and black-haired guys, ha ha. I totally loved poor Gregory Hines and was shocked when he died fairly young. Only something as sudden and nefarious as cancer would bring an athletic dancer down. So sad.

      • Of course ‘Arthur’ . Gee, I had forgotten all about it. Liza Minnelli what a performer. Did you see the movie about her mum ‘Judy’? I really liked it.

        I love Blue Jasmine. It’s one of those few movies I can watch over and over and never get tired of it. Yes, it seems you are attracted to the darker faired men. I liked The Lost Boys when I was a teen.

        Gregory Hines was fabulous in Mel Brook’s History of the World Part 1. I don’t think I saw him in anything else.

  6. Alphabet Ravine says:

    You’ve got to love when you think something no one will use becomes one of your biggest successes. It’s funny how often that happens. Along with Nadine, I appreciate the factoid about a woman screaming that Ravel was mad!

    • Sometimes these famous classical compositions make appearances in film which arguably enhance their legacy like the music of Mozart with ‘Amadeus’, Rachmaninov with ‘Shine’ and Tomaso Albinoni with ‘Gallipoli’. But poor Ravel with ’10’ got the short straw lol
      I’m glad you liked the factoid. Hey where did your poetry page go? I loved it.

  7. selizabryangmailcom says:

    Omg, Gregory Hines was in a movie with Mikhail Baryishnikov! White Nights! I wouldn’t necessarily recommend seeing it….it was pretty silly. But if you wanted to see both of them doing their dance thing, it’s a good one!

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