What is the course about?
Boléro is one of the most famous works in 20th century Western music, yet consists of only one rhythm and two tunes, repeated for around 15 minutes. What inspired its composer, Maurice Ravel to write such an extraordinary piece, and why has it become so popular?
What will we cover?
- Ravel’s sources of inspiration for the work, in the context of his own œuvre and the broader context of trends in French and European music in the early 20th century
- Performance traditions from the première of Boléro onwards
- Dramatic and dance interpretations
- Boléro in the contemporary popular imagination.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
- Understand why and how Ravel wrote this extraordinary work
- Know more about the history of the work
- compare and contrast different musical and dramatic interpretations of Boléro
- expand your ideas about what Boléro means to you.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
No prior knowledge of the subject is required. You do not need to read music to take this course (although we will look at some simple music notation to identify patterns in the music).
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
Tutor presentation and explanation, including handouts, powerpoint slides or writing on a whiteboard
Guided listening and watching of audio and audio-visual examples
Class discussion and debate.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
Please bring a notebook and pen.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
To find out more about music history classes and to read our year-long selection of courses, please see the blog post Music history: your guide to the 2019/20 programme which lists our full programme of classes ordered by term, and by day of the week. You may then click on each title to read the full course outline.