That’s so meta …

July 3, 2016 at 11:00 am

Maurice Ravel wrote “La Valse” as a commission by the famous ballet choreographer, Sergei Diaghilev (who also commissioned the Rite of Spring, and many other famous early 20th century pieces.) Diaghilev rejected the music, saying “It’s a masterpiece, but it’s not a ballet. It’s the portrait of a ballet.”

Indeed it is a masterpiece. There’s plenty of clichéd waltz material here, but it’s presented as a parody. It doesn’t play like the countless standard 18th century European waltzes. It’s more like a drunken dream about going to a posh party and getting swept up in the music and dancing. Imagine approaching a large European manor home. You can hear the distant music inside, you see the fancy dresses and carefree partygoers. You enter the home and are overwhelmed by the music and the rhythm. You dance and dance, sometimes slow, sometimes fast, sometimes with your lover, sometimes by yourself. Eventually the champagne kicks in, and everybody starts getting wild and out of control. The music, and the party, end abruptly and you are thrown out the front door. 9/10 would waltz again.

A piece of music, written about a piece of music? That’s sooooo meta