Last weekend I saw a video of five Viennese cellists playing Ravel’s Boléro (on the one cello) and I thought I’d try to do a piano version to add it to my collection. Just my own two hands, though, with a bit of reverb to add to the effect.

Written in 1928 in honour of Russian actress and dancer Ida Rubinstein, Boléro is Ravel’s most famous work. The composer expected it not to be popular with orchestras, not least because of the monotonous snare drum part throughout the entire 12-18 minutes of the performance. I say “12-18 minutes” because the tempo chosen by conductors over the years has varied hugely, starting with a lively exchange between the composer and conductor Arturo Toscanini immediately after a performance in Paris in 1930. Ravel claimed Toscanini’s version had been too fast, with Toscanini retorting, “it’s the only way to save the work!”

Obviously I’ve shortened the piece to work with just the piano, but I hope I’ve still captured the build-up and the climax, and that you enjoy my version. There’s more classical music in my collection here, and if it’s your first time on the site, find out why I’m playing one song a day for the whole of 2015 or listen to my October songs here.