à IDA RUBINŠTEJN

BOLÉRO

Maurice Ravel Skip to listening

We are in Paris at the end of the Roaring Twenties. Monuments and clubs glow with electric lights and the streets of Montmartre echo with the notes of jazz, brought to Europe by American soldiers. While Coco Chanel creates the little black dress and Elsa Schiaparelli launches her N°1 collection, women wear their hair short and dress à la garçonne.
The city is a cultural, musical and artistic ferment.

ida

Ida Rubinštejn, a former prima ballerina with the Ballets Russes and now also a producer, decides to stage a ballet “with a Spanish character” to be performed by herself.

maurice

She turns to her friend Maurice Ravel for the music. The composer initially works on the orchestration of a piano suite by Albéniz, but abruptly interrupts this process due to copyright issues. He is running out of time when the maestro takes up one of his brilliant ideas and in a few weeks writes the score.

The piece is a continuous alternation of themes A and B, each of 18 bars.
The themes develop on the ostinato of the drum and on the armonic accompaniment.

Legenda

  • Pianissimo
    Pianissimo
  • Piano
    Piano
  • Mezzo piano
    Mezzo piano
  • Mezzo forte
    Mezzo forte
  • Forte
    Forte
  • Fortissimo
    Fortissimo
  • Pianissimo
  • Piano
  • Mezzo piano
  • Mezzo forte
  • Forte
  • Fortissimo
Theme Ostinato Armonic accompaniment

The central aspect of the work is the orchestration of the individual instruments which, repetition after repetition, add and remove themselves, in a majestic crescendo.

On 22 November 1928, the Boléro is staged for the first time at the Paris Opera.

Start listening

Orchestra

cimbali
tam tam
grancassa
arpa
celesta
timpani
timpani
timpani
tuba
trombone
trombone
trombone
tromba acuta
tromba
tromba
tromba
corno
corno
corno
corno
sax sopranino
sax soprano
sax tenore
oboe
oboe d'amore
fagotto
fagotto
controfagotto
ottavino
flauto
flauto
clarinetto piccolo
clarinetto basso
clarinetto
clarinetto
corno inglese
rullante
rullante
violino
violino
violino
violino
viola
viola
violoncello
violoncello
contrabbasso
contrabbasso
This snare drum rhythm repeats exactly the same for 169 times
Intro
1 A

The Boléro you are now listening to is conducted by Maurice himself and played by the Orchestre Des Concerts Lamoureux in 1930 in Paris

2 A

Each stripe represents the repetition of a theme A or B of 18 bars. The instruments involved in the performance will be coloured above

3 B

You can let the piece play and enjoy it or you can scroll down the page and see the changes in orchestration

4 B

The tempo used by Ravel is ♩ = 72. Each theme lasts about 49 seconds

5 A

There are almost 5000 official recordings of the Boléro. On average one recording per week, continuously since 1928

6 A

Ida performed the Boléro as prima ballerina with the company she founded, after leaving the Ballets Russes at the height of its success

7 B

The Ballets Russes (1909 - 1929) involved the best musicians, costume designers and artists of the time including: Chopin, Shumann, Grieg, Stravinsky...

8 B

...Tchaikovsky, Debussy, Ravel, Strauss, Rossini, Prokofiev, Handel, Matisse, Bakst, Picasso, Balla, Mirò, De Chirico, Chanel

9 A

Ida performed, among others, with Enrico Cecchetti, creator of the famous ballet training method

10 A

One of the first to experiment with the Cecchetti method was the ballerina Anna Pavlova, who inspired the cake of the same name.

11 B

According to some critics the first musical influences of jazz can be heard in the trombone you are now listening to

12 B

Gabriele D’Annunzio was enchanted by Ida’s beauty and cast her in his film “La Nave”, directed by his son Gabriellino

13 A

Gabriele involved Ida in a love triangle with the American painter Romaine Brooks

14 A

The friendship between Gabriele and Romaine was briefly interrupted when another lover of the poet came to them with a gun

15 B

The main light works in Paris at the time were created by the self-taught decorator Fernando Jacopozzi

16 B

In 1925, Fernando illuminated the Eiffel Tower with 200,000 light bulbs, 100 km of cable and a small power station on the Seine

17 A

In 1917, Fernando was commissioned to reproduce the illumination of a fake Paris by night, to distract the bombs of the German zeppelins

18 B

In the last period of her life Ida devoted herself to mysticism, eating only fish. And a glass of champagne a day

At the end of the premiere of the Boléro, a woman exclaimed: "He's crazy". Ravel commented: "That lady, she understood the piece".

Finale
Curve path