The Waltz (1)

The ‘blog posting’ portion of my mental ‘to do’ list has for many months contained a psychological jotting to the effect that I really must get round to discussing two marvellous pieces of twentieth century music whose undeniable greatness seems to me to be at least a little undermined by the fact — if that’s what it is! — that their endings never seem to work properly

One of these pieces is Ravel’s La Valse — his orchestral ‘poème chorégraphique‘, written between 1919 and 1920; and the fact that today happens to be the composer’s birthday (he was born on 7 March 1875) prompts me to bring up the subject now — in connection with a manuscript page that someone attached to a celebratory ‘social media’ posting this afternoon.

But first, here is a rather super pic of Ravel sitting at his cluttered piano. (You may not remember the face; but you’ll never forget the suit…)

As for our page of manuscript, I should mention that I’d never encountered it before (I’ve only ever studied the published orchestral score). But since I know the piece jolly well, the music in its orchestral form started running through my head as soon as I saw the dots.

And guess what: before I’d followed the notations to the end, I’d almost jumped out of my seat. Ten points are available to anyone who can work out whyContinue reading