Ritual Fire Dance
Danza ritual del fuego (Ritual Fire Dance) is a movement of the ballet El amor brujo (The Bewitched Love), written by the Spanish composer Manuel de Falla in 1915. It was made popular by the composer's own piano arrangement. The dance has a duration of about three to four and a half minutes.
The work can be associated to 1910 Rimsky-Korsakov's Flight of the Bumblebee due to its fast, repetitive trills and ornaments. The piece was also influenced by the traditional, religious ceremony of a fire dance. This is a dance which was used to worship the fire-god, and in which people would often jump through or leap around the fire.
The story of the Ritual Fire Dance
In De Falla's ballet, El amor brujo, a young Andalusian gypsy girl called Candela is haunted by the ghost of her dead husband. To get rid of him, all the gypsies make a large circle around their campfire at midnight. Candela then performs the Ritual Fire Dance. This causes the ghost to appear, with whom she then dances. As they whirl around faster and faster, the ghost is drawn into the fire, making it vanish forever.
Instrumentation and transcriptions
The Ritual Fire Dance, and the ballet in its whole, has been transcribed many times since its original composition in 1915; often by Manuel de Falla himself.
|Form of transcription||Instrumentation||Date of transcription|
|Original Composition||Singing voice (the role of Candélas), flute (piccolo), oboe, horn, cornet, bells, piano, 2 first violins, 2 second violins, 2 violas, 2 cellos and double bass.||1915|
|Sextet||2 violins, viola, cello, double bass and piano.||1915|
|Full Orchestral||2 flutes (piccolo), oboe, 2 clarinets, bassoon, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, timpani (bells), piano and strings.||1916|
|Small Orchestral||Chamber orchestra||1917|
|Ballet||Voice (mezzo-soprano), 2 flutes (piccolo), oboe (cor anglais), 2 clarinets, bassoon, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, timpani, percussion, piano and strings.||1919|
|Piano Rendition||Solo piano||1921|
|Concert ballet||2 flutes (piccolo), oboe (cor anglais), 2 clarinets, bassoon, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, timpani, percussion, piano and strings.||1925|
Structure and analysis of the piano version
The piece has an Allegro ma non troppo tempo (♩=126) and is in C major. The structure of the piece is an A B C A B C Coda form. The first section starts with 23 bars of trills from the piano. The dynamics of this section change frequently from pianissimo (pp) to mezzo forte (mf). For 14 bars, there is then a section for melody and accompaniment. Candélas then enters with two bars of "Ah!"s. The piano then follows with two bars of octave chords. There is then a question and answer section between Candélas and the piano, one bar at a time, for 17 bars. There are then trills for the piano for a further 8 bars. A quaver, quaver rest, quaver, quaver rest pattern follows with straight crotchets for 8 bars. A melody then comes in above the base rhythm for 24 bars. The piano then has a large section of chords and (mainly) quavers for 33 bars. There are then trills for one bar and another quaver, quaver rest, quaver, quaver rest pattern with a straight crotchet accompaniment for 4 bars. There are then 20 bars of more trills. A section with melody and accompaniment then follows. The above section then repeats. However, at the repeat is not complete, as the third movement is then cut off half way through by an ascending scale of triplets for four bars. Here the tempo changes to Più mosso, ma giusto. This is the coda. Semi-quavers then follow for two three bar phrases of ascending scales. Candélas then has "Ah!"s at the start of every other following bar for the next four bars. These bars finish with semi-quavers and then an ascending scale. There are then crotchet chords for 15 bars. A descending arpeggio and low final note finish the piece.
|CD Title||Length (Minutes:Seconds)||Record Label||Recording Date|
|Rubinstein Collection, Vol. 18||3:23||RCA Red Seal||1947|
|500 Classical Masterpieces||1:43 (Excerpt)||Vox||1992|
|40 Popular Classics||4:13||Castle Select Records||1999|
|Falla: El Amor Brujo – Sombrero de tres picos – Noches en los jardines de España||4:15||EMI Classics||1999|
|Falla: La Vida Breve; El amor brujo; etc.||4:11||EMI Classics||2001|
|Classical Music 101||0:39 (Excerpt)||RCA Red Seal||2004|
|De Falla; El Amor Brujo-El Retablo de Maese Pedro-Fantasia Baetica||1:52||Mirare||2007|
- Classical Notes
- The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music, 1996 by MICHAEL KENNEDY and JOYCE BOURNE at Encyclopedia.com
- Robin Maconie (2013). Experiencing Stravinsky: A Listener's Companion. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 41–. ISBN 978-0-8108-8430-4.
- Fire Dance – Streetswing
- Ritual Fire Dance by Manuel de Falla
- Manuel de Falla Official Website
- IMSLP Score
- Amazon – Sombrero de tres picos
- Amazon – El Retablo de Maese Pedro