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April 2, 2009

Maurice Ravel plays his orchestral piece 'Boléro'

From a 1920s piano roll .

The photograph is from the 1920s.

In it, Ravel is playing the piano along with Éva Gauthier.

On the far right of the photo is George Gershwin.

April 2, 2009 at 04:01 PM | Permalink


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Bolero on ice (Torvill and Dean, World Figure Skating Championships)...


everything is better on ice.

Posted by: gina | Apr 4, 2009 12:33:29 PM

Poor old Bolero, there always has been a lot of hating on that one. Same old tune, over and over, till you drop! Yeah. The navel-gazing part of me really likes it, though. A fact I've had to keep hidden from some musician friends who think it's the work of the dev-ill. And then other musician friends think jazz is the work of the devil -- same old tunes, but never ever played the same way, and where did the melody go, anyway?...what's THAT all about?

Posted by: Flautist | Apr 3, 2009 7:08:27 PM

Oh dear, not that one! Ever since the first time I heard it, I've thought it would be much better if cut at about four minutes rather than fifteen. His "la Valse" is more to my tastes...

Trivia: the music industry tried to outlaw piano rolls, much as it would later try against Edison's recorder/player, audio tapes, CD recorders, etc.

Posted by: John A | Apr 3, 2009 6:43:57 PM

The argument that Bolero was composed during the early stages of frontotemporal dementia is convincing. This is the tune I never want to hear again, alongside ´we built this city on rock and roll´ starship.

Posted by: gina | Apr 3, 2009 8:04:10 AM

The great cellist Anner Bylsma:

"The art of the violin [and cello] has suffered from the rising importance of the piano, an instrument which, to compensate for its shortcomings, had to set new priorities in music.

"To start a tone inaudibly is impossible on the piano . . . Spiccato, vibrato; it is all impossible on the piano.

"Nevertheless, thanks to the many composer-players of genius in the 19th and 20th centuries, the piano became a 'real' instrument with a whole new wealth. Demigods like Liszt, Chopin, Brahms, Debussy and Ravel, with incredible force of imagination, made the needs of music equal to the possibilities of the piano."

Posted by: Karl Zipser | Apr 3, 2009 3:07:00 AM

Very interesting. Also interesting, in the comments section (most YouTube comments are probably as reliable as damp toilet paper, of course, but these seemed more reasonable, less insane), two commenters seem to agree that the piano roll is not played by Ravel -- it is a 1933 Duo-Art piano roll played by Rudolph Ganz. Whatever, it's still good.

For a riveting, spine-chilling orchestral version on YouTube (audio and video a tiny bit out of synch - ignore it), hunt this up --
Maurice Ravel - Bolero - Herbert von Karajan 1985 - Parts 1 & 2

Posted by: Flautist | Apr 2, 2009 4:57:48 PM

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