Impressions or a souvenir from the sea

Serenity on water © Charles Thibo


Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth – gently the boat rocks and rolls in the bay, pushed by a light sea breeze, swayed by the rippling waves. While I did  not intend to blog during my summer vacation1, a picture I shot a few days ago in Brittany reminded me of Maurice Ravel’s piano piece “Une barque sur l’océan” (A boat on the ocean). A beautiful piece Ravel wrote in two versions: one for the piano (1904/05) and a fully orchestrated one. The first one has been recorded by Pierre-Laurent Aimard the second one by the London Symphony Orchestra, two amazing productions.

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Ravel’s provoking waltzes and the poppy puppets

Fire. © Charles Thibo

I must have been five or six years old when my mother showed me how to make a little flamenco dancer in a flaming red dress out of poppy blossoms. A half-opened bud would form the dress  and the scarf, a closed one would become the head. Quite often when I see poppies on a path I think of that little trick. Could I still do it? Should I show it to my child? Actually I feel sorry for the poppies-to-become-a-puppet. Nature already gave them a certain fragility…

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Dancing with the nymphs on Lesbos

Edgar Degas painted these two lovely dancers on a stage. (Courtesy The Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Institute of Art, London)

If you don’t know this piece – the introduction should give you an idea about the composer identity. The signature is unique – Ravel! Yes, the style of the “Introduction and Religious Dance” reminds me of Ravel’s “Boléro“. Long before he composed that famous piece, he wrote the enchanting ballet “Daphnis et Chloé”. It goes back to a tale from the late Antiquity about the goat-herd Daphnis and the shepherdess Chloe. The setting is a pastoral landscape on the Greek island of Lesbos. The Russian ballet impresario Sergei Diaghilev commissioned the score in 1909, the piece was first performed in Paris in 1912.

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Scouting out the cordon to hear Ravel

fgfnbnkmkl © Charles Thibo
Summer music – Ravel’s Boléro. © Charles Thibo

It all started with a fraud. We were three students: Ellen, Thomas and myself. It must have been in July during our last year at university or the year before. It was hot, and we were desperately looking for a way to sneak into an open air classic concert. Officially, the concert was sold out. Tickets were available on the black market, but at a price that none of us was willing to pay. So we scouted out the cordon around the Königsplatz in Munich to see if there was any spot through which we could enter the concert area. There wasn’t. Police and security teams everywhere, fences, barriers – no trespassing.

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