One of the first pieces of classical music to grab me by the ears and absolutely force me to love a piece of music with no words was Ravel’s Bolero.
Miss Malek played it on a phonograph for us in the basement of the Rowan Schoolhouse when I was in 3rd grade back in the fall of 1965. Shortly after that, my father bought a record of it for our record player at home. I must have listened to it a hundred times before 4th grade. It was the first piece of music I learned to listen to with pictures creating themselves in my mind. Here’s the basic picture in fact;
Yes, it suggests to me that life is a long plodding march toward inevitable battle, a battle that one day will end in defeat and death. No one lives forever and no song continues without end. But there is beauty, pageantry, and color to be felt and filled with along the way. And the march is not without purpose. What music we will create along the way! It is glorious to be alive and provide the drumbeat for the march of the creations of your soul, your children and the words you come to live by. I do not intend to retreat to the castle as many would do. I will not cower as I await the conclusion. I will march to meet it in a glorious crescendo. And that, dear reader, is what Maurice Ravel’s Bolero is about, as far as I am concerned.