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Gitanos, grande valse espagnole for piano, Les (Mel Bonis)




Throughout her life, Mel Bonis composed a great number of waltzes, the dance giving its title either to the whole collection (Suite en forme de valsesSix Valses-caprice), or to one of its pieces (Dix-Sept Pièces enfantinesCinq Pièces pour piano), or appearing – quite frequently – in the subtitle of a piece (ÉtiollesLes GitanosOrientaleSoirs d’antanL’EscarpoletteDiamant noir). Les Gitanos, which exists in two versions, for solo piano or piano duet, holds a special place among this body of works: it is the piece with which the composer won the first price in the waltz competition of the journal Piano-Soleil, on 15 October 1891. The work appeared in the issue dated 8 November before being published by Hamelle. Such recognition must have been a great joy for Mel Bonis, who was preoccupied by her family responsibilities and whose creative impulse was constantly muzzled. The picturesque colour of her waltz mingles with the atmosphere of the Parisian boulevards. The Spanish allusions, which remain discreet, are audible in the lively rhythm of certain passages, where one can almost hear the tapping of the dancers’ heels, and in certain melodic and harmonic inflections (cadences with a descending semi-tone in the bass part). Les Gitanos actually gives us an idea of what the French public perceived as “Spanish”. Brilliant, but without any great technical difficulties, this “home music” also found its place in the concert hall and on the radio: in an orchestration by Adolph Gauwin, it was broadcast several times in the 1920s.

    Person - 1
  • BONIS, Mel (1858-1937)
  • Themes - 2
  • Piano – La « pièce de genre » pianistique
  • Piano – Fin-de-siècle Romantic Piano Music
  • Symposia - 1
  • Mel Bonis (2018)