Monday, October 25, 2010

Music Monday ~ Ravel and his Boléro

Sun has recently arrived in sexy Scorpio - we ought to have a look at something with the reputation of being musically erotic. French composer Maurice Ravel's best known work, his Boléro springs immediately to mind! It's one of those love/hate pieces though, hypnotically erotic, yet annoyingly repetitive. Some critics suspect that at the time Ravel composed Boléro he was in the early stages of some form of dementia, which could account for the repetition over some 17 minutes: a constant 3/4 time with a prominent triplet on the second beat of every bar, rhythmically building to a climax. It was originally called Fandango, written as a ballet score but now usually played as a concert piece. (Photograph left:Sylvie Guillem, Akram Khan & a boléro)

The eroticism and sexual tension of Ravel's Boléro hasn't been lost on movie makers. Since its debut in 1928 it has been used in a 1934 film, Boléro starring George Raft and Carole Lombard, later, a 1976 Italian animated film, Allegro Non Troppo, directed by Bruno Bozzetto includes the piece (see HERE) during a parody of the Rite of Spring sequence from Disney's Fantasia.

Possibly best known of all, to today's audiences, an excerpt of around 5 minutes from Boléro was used in the soundtrack of the movie "10" in which Bo Derek insisted on playing the piece while making love to Dudley Moore. (Trailer here) After this Boléro was to become a pop hit !

Olympic Ice Dance Champions from the UK, Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean gave a now legendary free dance performance at the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo skating to Ravel's Boléro and received nine perfect 6.0 scores.

Rock artists, too, have used Boléro and/or its rhythms see here for examples by Jeff Beck, Jefferson Airplane, Led Zeppelin, Alice Cooper and others.

Born in Ciboure, France of Swiss-Basque ancestry, MauriceRavel is said to have been a refined and private man who stood barely 5'3", known for his elegant dress (he was one of the first men in France to wear pastel-colored shirts - now there's a bit of trivia for ya!)- He died in 1937, following a brain operation.

Data from Astrodatabank.

With Sun, Moon and Mercury in Pisces, Scorpio rising and Jupiter in Scorpio Ravel had to be highly sensitive, deeply emotional. There's a dash of the intellectual from Venus and Saturn in Aquarius, and a smidgin of energetic fun from Mars in Sagittarius.....but the essence of Ravel is his sensitivity and emotionality.

There's an opposition between Jupiter and Neptune, linking to one of those "inset T-squares" similar to the configuration I noticed in Gauguin's chart (see post for Friday 15 October). Other than ongoing inner conflicts I'm not sure how to interpret this for Ravel, but will try:

After reading about his five attempts to secure the Grand Prix de Rome (a state-subsidised prize with a 4-year stipend) I suspect that he could have been a wee bit rebellious or anti-establishment (echo of Venus and Saturn in Aquarius?) It was reported that his applictions seemed to be flippant or scornful -or both, and that his teachers found him lacking in discipline despite his natural talent. In later life Ravel twice refused the Légion d'Honneur, highest decoration in France. He was still smarting from the way he had been treated with regard to the Grand Prix de Rome.

It could well be that his highly sensitive side clashing with the more obtuse-minded Aquarius input caused problems. The challenging opposition, squares and semi-square aspects forming the inset T-square link to his music and creativity(Venus & Neptune), aggression and excess (Mars and Jupiter) Sun and Moon (outer & inner self).

There are hints in several sources that Ravel may have been gay. For a guy in the early 20th century this alone would have been a source of conflict and challenge. Later in life he suffered an automobile accident, the head injuries from which almost certainly contributed to his decline and later death.

Here's a nice, and not too long, version of Ravel's Boléro by Pink Martini -
a 12-member "little orchestra" from Portland, Oregon. The video includes photographs of some of the 20th century's beautiful women of the silver screen.


R J Adams said...

Great piece of music. Many thanks for the opportunity to relive that marvelous night in 1984 when Torville and Dean made history. It still brings tears to the eyes.

Rossa said...

Torville and Dean coach the contestants on Dancing on Ice, where celebrities dance with ice skating professionals, in the UK. The final piece they have to dance to is Bolero so it is repeated every year.

Jane and Chris are still brilliant and it is great to see them on TV. The head judge is Robin Cousins so it is quite a "family" affair.

Twilight said...

RJ Adams and Rossa ~~~ Yes, for Brits I guess this music will be forever associated with Torvill and Dean.....rightly so! :-)

Wisewebwoman said...

Great post, T. Gorgeous seeing the Torville and Dean win, what an incredible performance and perfect for the music!

Twilight said...

WWW ~~~ Yes, indeedy! :-)