I’m happy to share my birthday with Joseph-Maurice Ravel, born on March 7, 1875. (I must point out that I wasn’t born the same year or even same century as the French composer.) SACEM (La Société des auteurs, compositeurs et éditeurs de musique) is the group that collects royalty payments on behalf of musicians. They list Ravel as one of the top earners year after year in their Palmarès. The attention is due to one song – Boléro.
Boléro’s been used in so many ways. Torville and Dean rode the waves of sound to Olympic gold in 1984. It inspired a flash mob in Copenhagen. And in 1979, Bo Derek vamped on the beach with a Boléro soundtrack in 10. Here’s the full version of Ravel’s legacy at almost 15 minutes long. The irony is that Ravel himself considered it to be an insignificant piece. He died on December 28, 1937 after brain surgery for a suspected tumor. Some have suggested that the repetitive passages are evidence of diminished brain function, but Ravel himself was clear about his intention in composing Boléro as he did. Today’s expression is une passion déchainée (oon pass-e-ohn day-shen-ay) which means unchained passion. We’d say unbridled passion, the type that Boléro’s always been associated with.
- Bolero- a Collaboration (erosthebrand.wordpress.com)
- Video: Concertmaster blows, shows the trombone how it’s done (artsjournal.com)
- Maurice Ravel – Introduction & Allegro for Harp, Flute, Clarinet & String Quartet (euzicasa.wordpress.com)