La Valse (tr Patterson)

From Wind Repertory Project
Maurice Ravel

Maurice Ravel (trans. Donald Patterson)

Subtitle: Poeme Choreographique

General Info

Year: 1920 / 2004
Duration: c. 12:30
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Orchestra
Publisher: United States Marine Band
Cost: Score and Parts - Free download


Full Score
Flute I-II-III-IV (III and IV doubling Piccolo)
Oboe I-II-III (III doubling English Horn)
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-VI (I and II doubling A Soprano Clarinet)
E-flat Alto Clarinet
B-flat Bass Clarinet
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Cornet I-II-III
C Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II
Bass Trombone
Double Bass
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Castanet
  • Crash Cymbal
  • Crotale
  • Glockenspiel
  • Marimba
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tambourine
  • Tam-tam
  • Triangle
  • Xylophone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

In a letter written in 1906, Ravel spoke of plans to compose a waltz that would pay tribute to Johann Strauss and be “an apotheosis of the Viennese waltz.” He titled his rough sketch Wien: Poème Symphonique (Vienna: Symphonic Poem). By 1920, the work had evolved to its finished form and its final title: La Valse: poème chorégraphique. This is no typical waltz; it is a surreal parody, an apocalyptic view of wartime Vienna, familiar to Ravel through his service as an ambulance driver during World War I.

In Ravel's version we are meant to see, as through a mist, an imperial palace of the mid-19th century, a grand ballroom filled with dancers, a scene alive with light and colour, an “impression of a fantastic and fatal whirling.” It is a waltz with one foot planted solidly in classical waltz traditions, with the other balanced uncertainly on the shaky ground of the new, the avant-garde, the modern. Rarely performed as a ballet, it is often programmed as a concert work, the absence of visual “busyness” helping to free the palette of the mind’s eye to imagine the surrealism of Ravel’s vision. Ravel dedicated his waltz to his long-time friend Misia Sert, a woman who was held in high esteem by many influential personalities of the day. It was in her home that Ravel first performed a piano reduction of the work for Sergei Diaghilev, Igor Stravinsky, and Francis Poulenc.

- Program Note by Nikk Pilato


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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Works for Winds by This Composer