Classical Music | Piano Music

Maurice Ravel

La Valse  Play

Carissa Kim Piano

Recorded on 04/19/2017, uploaded on 12/14/2017

Musician's or Publisher's Notes

As early as 1906, Ravel intended to orchestrate a piece entitled “Wien” in tribute to the waltz form and to Johann Strauss.  However, for many reasons – not least World War I – he did not finish La Valse, poème chorégraphique pour orchestre (a choreographic poem for orchestra) until 1919.  Based on the waltz, one can hear the elegance of this Viennese dance becoming deconstructed and a ferocious tone poem arising, similar to the political upheavals surrounding Vienna. 

Initially the work was conceived as a symphonic poem and was also arranged for two pianos, which was then further arranged for solo piano. It was reworked and commissioned as music for a ballet by the legendary choreographer, Sergei Diaghilev; however, after he was presented with the work, Diaghilev claimed that La Valse, though a masterpiece, was not music for the ballet. Ravel published the score with a setting in mind for the performing musicians: “Swirling clouds afford glimpses, through rifts, of waltzing couples. The clouds scatter little by little; one can distinguish an immense hall with a whirling crowd. The scene grows progressively brighter. The light of the chandeliers bursts forth at the fortissimo. An imperial court, about 1855.”     Carissa Kim