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Cutting Room Floor: Ravel
26 Mar 2011
Inside the Classics

Posts tagged as Cutting Room Floor are where we put all the material relevant to our Inside the Classics concerts that we don’t have time to get to in the actual shows. Some of it is serious, some of it is silly, and some of it is just extra information about the featured composer or piece of music that we didn’t know what else to do with. This is also the place for any comments or questions you want to leave after having attended one of the live shows. Just click the “Comment” link at the end of the post…

First off, here’s the playlist of pieces we excerpted during the first half of the concert:

RAVEL Orchestral Suites 1 & 2 from Daphnis & Chloe
RAVEL La Valse
STRAVINSKY Infernal Dance of the Kastchei, from The Firebird
DEBUSSY La Mer
RAVEL Le Tombeau de Couperin
STRAUSS Wiener Blut Waltz
RAVEL Bolero

As it happens, we actually got to pretty much everything we wanted to say about Ravel on stage in these shows, and besides, if you’ve taken the trouble to come here and check out the blog after attending this weekend’s concerts, you know that what we’d really love for you to do is read more about our big MicroCommission Project, watch the video interview with composer Judd Greenstein that I just posted, and maybe add your donation to the rapidly growing pile!

Make a donation now!

But I do have one extra Ravel tidbit, and it’s about Ravel’s relationship with the Ballet Russes, which premiered Daphnis & Chloe, and the great Russian dance impresario, Sergei Diaghilev. Daphnis was actually a trouble-plagued production for the Russes from the start, and there was reportedly a lot of back and forth over whether the music or the dancing should be the main attraction. (The dancers also considered much of the music to be undanceable, but I’m guessing that some of them might have revised that opinion of Ravel the following year, when they had to dance Stravinsky’s even more complex and arhythmic Rite of Spring for the first time.)

According to musicologist Gregg Wager, Diaghilev decided to forgive and forget some of the trouble Ravel had caused him during the production of Daphnis, and eventually commissioned another ballet from him. What he got was La Valse:

“Once again, Ravel insisted that his “ballet” should emphasize music over choreography, opting to call it a poème chorégraphique. Diaghilev was disappointed with Ravel and, no doubt foreseeing even greater problems than he had with Daphnis et Chloé, refused to produce it, claiming that the music for La valse could never be a serviceable ballet. La valse was successfully premièred in 1920 as an orchestral work, but Ravel’s contempt for Diaghilev endured. The rift developed into a mutual animosity, culminating years later when Diaghilev challenged Ravel to a duel (which thankfully never occurred).”
–excerpted from the LA Philharmonic’s Philpedia entry on
La Valse

Y’know, nobody in the arts ever settles disagreements with a good duel anymore! Hmmm – maybe I can stir up some trouble between Sarah and Judd next season and see what comes of it. World premiere followed by a duel? I’d buy a ticket…

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