Sound of Charlotte Blog

Ravel's Boléro in popular culture

From Bugs Bunny to How I Met Your Mother, two works on the program for Ravel Boléro have appeared throughout pop culture for nearly a century. Find out where you've heard some of these works before and then enjoy them live at our final Classical concert of the season, conducted by Maestro Warren-Green, May 17-19 at Knight Theater. 


Peer Gynt Suite No. 1

Written for Henrik Ibsen's play of the same name, Edvard Grieg's Peer Gynt Suite No. 1 includes four works from the play, two of which have been heavily recycled throughout popular culture: "Morning Mood" and "In the Hall of the Mountain King."

"Morning Mood" may sound familiar because it's famous for accompanying images of a picturesque sunrise in movies and television. 


You might recall hearing this famous melody in many films, such as Soylent Green (1973) and the Looney Toons' television special Bugs Bunny's Bustin' Out All Over (1980), as well as television shows, like Tiny Toon Adventures, Animaniacs, The Simpsons (Season 9/ Ep. 12 "Bart Carny"), The Big Bang Theory (Season 3/ Ep. 15 "The Large Hadron Collision"), and How I Met Your Mother (Season 5/ Ep. 11 "Last Cigarette Ever").

More fun uses of "Morning Mood" have been in commercials, such as the Doritos Super Bowl XLIX commercials, and as the opening theme music for the popular video game by PopCap Games, Peggle.


"In the Hall of the Mountain King" is another pop culture favorite that often accompanies a stealthy or mischievous scene.

You may recall hearing its theme in the film The Social Network (2011) and popular television shows such as Orange is the New Black (Season 1/ Ep. 4 "Imaginary Enemies" & Season 3/ Ep. 13 "Trust No B****"), How I Met Your Mother (Season 3/ Ep. 4 "Little Boys"), The Simpsons (Season 16/ Ep. 11 "On a Clear Day I Can't See My Sister"), and Mad Men (Season 2/ Ep. 12 "The Mountain King"). 

Another fun use of "In the Hall of the Mountain King" is as the theme song for the animated television series Inspector Gadget


Many musicians have also found inspiration with this work over the years. Jazz musician Alvino Rey created his own rendition of the work in 1941, Electric Light Orchestra recorded a version that begins with the "Morning Mood" theme in 1973, and in 1967, British rock band The Who recorded a version which went unreleased until 1995, when it appeared as a bonus track on a CD reissue of The Who Sell Out. Most recently, Gwen Stefani and Justin Timberlake recorded a trap version of the theme, "Hair Up," which was released on the soundtrack to the film Trolls (2016).


Boléro

Originally composed as a ballet for Russian actress and dancer Ida Rubinstein, Boléro premiered in November 1928 at the Paris Opera. This sultry work is Ravel's most famous work and has continued to thrive in popularity throughout pop culture.

Boléro appears in a number of films, such as The Three Stooges film Soup to Nuts (1930), 10 (1979), Bolero (1984), Paradise Road (1997), and Basic (2003), as well as television series like Doctor Who (Series 2/ Ep. 8 "The Impossible Planet") and Futurama (Season 5/ Ep. 16 "The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings").


Additionally, Frank Zappa performed a reggae version of Boléro during his 1988 world tour, saying it was "one of the best melodies ever written," and Rufus Wainwright heavily integrated the it into his song "Oh, What a World."

However, probably one of the most famous uses was by Olympic Ice Skaters Torvill and Dean, who used a version as accompanying music for their record-scoring and winning performance at the 1984 Winter Olympics.

Join us for Ravel Boléro, May 17-19 at Knight Theater, to enjoy these incredible works performed live.

Posted in Classics.

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