La Valse - Ravel - full version performed by Ji!

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Maurice Ravel
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Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston

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"La valse, poème chorégraphique pour orchestre" (a choreographic poem for orchestra), is a work written by Maurice Ravel between February 1919 and 1920 (premiered in Paris on 12 December 1920). It was conceived as a ballet but is now more often heard as a concert work. The work has been described as a tribute to the waltz, and the composer George Benjamin, in his analysis of La valse, summarized the ethos of the work:

"Whether or not it was intended as a metaphor for the predicament of European civilization in the aftermath of the Great War, its one-movement design plots the birth, decay and destruction of a musical genre: the waltz. "

In his tribute to Ravel after the composer's death in 1937, Paul Landormy described the work as follows:

"the most unexpected of the compositions of Ravel, revealing to us heretofore unexpected depths of Romanticism, power, vigor, and rapture in this musician whose expression is usually limited to the manifestations of an essentially classical genius".

Creation and meaning

The idea of La valse began first with the title "Vienne", then Wien (French and German for "Vienna", respectively) as early as 1906, where Ravel intended to orchestrate a piece in tribute to the waltz form and to Johann Strauss II. An earlier influence from another composer was the waltz from Emmanuel Chabrier's opera Le roi malgré lui. In Ravel's own compositional output, a precursor to La valse was his 1911 Valses nobles et sentimentales, which contains a motif that Ravel reused in the later work. After his service in the French Army, Ravel returned to his original idea of the symphonic poem Wien.

Ravel completely reworked his idea of Wien into what became La valse, which was to have been written under commission from Sergei Diaghilev as a ballet. However, he never produced the ballet. After hearing a two-piano reduction performed by Ravel and Marcelle Meyer, Diaghilev said it was a "masterpiece" but rejected Ravel's work as "not a ballet. It's a portrait of ballet". Ravel, hurt by the comment, ended the relationship. Subsequently, it became a popular concert work and when the two men met again during 1925, Ravel refused to shake Diaghilev's hand. Diaghilev challenged Ravel to a duel, but friends persuaded Diaghilev to recant. The men never met again. The ballet was premiered in Antwerp in October 1926 by the Royal Flemish Opera Ballet, and there were later productions by the Ballets Ida Rubinstein in 1928 and 1931 with choreography by Bronislava Nijinska. The music was also used for ballets of the same title by George Balanchine, who had made dances for Diaghilev, in 1951 and by Frederick Ashton in 1958.

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Classical music piece ID: HDCM0770
Classical music piece performed by: Ji
Autorisé par: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston
Licence de musique: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Site Web:

Peinture licence: copie numérique de la peinture avec la permission de la National Gallery of Art

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