Looking for academic resources on the world premiere of Django's Bolero

EduardoEduardo Valparaiso, IndianaNew Manouche Guitars Latcho Drom
edited February 2018 in History Posts: 6
Hello all,
I am writing a paper for school in which I would like to make about Django's Bolero. I am looking for reviews of the piece during it's world premiere, if they even exist. I read Django's biography by Charles Delaunay where this was briefly mentioned, but I don't remember there being extensive information on the piece or it's reception among critics. I do remember there was a few comments that it wasn't too well received due to it's dissonant harmonies (I think that's what I remember) and that it was premiered alongside Ravel's Bolero. If anyone who really knows their Django history and where to find sources, would be willing to assist me, that would be amazing. Thank you


  • PapsPierPapsPier ✭✭
    edited February 2018 Posts: 428
    Django's Bolero was composed in 1937. A concert of the Quintette du Hot Club de France was given at Salle Gaveau in Octobre 1937 and they played his Bolero, Rose Room, Cavalerie and Djangology among other things. So this first public version was probably a reduced version compared to the recording.
    Source Delaunay and Contextual bio discography
    Michael Dregni reports that Panassie was really enthusiastic and was amazed to discover a new side of Django s music: he is not only a wonderful soloist and accompanist, jhe is also a great composer!

    Django had two ambitious projects (more ambitious than his usual recordings) at that time: Mabel and Bolero, it was his first attempts at composing for a big orchestra.
    When Django composed his Bolero, in 1937, Maurice Ravel, famous for his own bolero, was slowly dying. It was probably well-known in the music circles and we can think that Django paid tribute to him with his composition.
    One of the two takes of the Bolero was released alongside one of the two takes of Mabel on a label called Gramophone (not the usual Swing label). The recordings themselves were not pure swing nor pure classical. Those two elements can explain why the sells for this disc were disapointing (300 over a 5 year period).
    All that comes from Integrale Fremeaux booklet.
    A critic of the disc by Hughes PAnassie and published in Jazz Hot magazine can be found in the contextual bio discography. (And it is as said before rather enthusiastic)

    Then in 1941, once Django was the big star of French music hall, his Bolero was played at a special concert on 10th May and 14th June, Salle Pleyel. The orchestra named Orchestre symphonique de jazz was led by Robert Bergmann. This orchestra was a big band plus a dozen of violins.
    Django's bolero was played alongside Ravel s Bolero and a piece of Debussy called Fetes. And I am not sure that DJango actually played with the orchestrafor this concert.

    I dont know what the critics said about that last concert
  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 3,320
    Interesting, thanks Paps! Funny that Mabel wasn't more popular. I can still remember the first time I heard it and I really loved it.
  • EduardoEduardo Valparaiso, IndianaNew Manouche Guitars Latcho Drom
    Posts: 6
    Papspier, thanks that is very insightful. I will look into these. Do you have any reccommendations as to where I may possibly even find more info?
  • PapsPierPapsPier ✭✭
    Posts: 428
    Sorry I gave you all what I found in all my sources (Delaunay, the contextual bio discography, Michael Dregni, Integrale Fremeaux). The only thing I cn think of is to read the Jazz Hot magazine of that time... but I dont know if you can actually find more (the Jazz Hot reports are cited in the other sources I saw). You could try to contact the Salle Pleyel or Gaveau, they might have archives
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