Dear Monsieur Ravel, I am sitting by your tomb and I am listening to Bolero. As it started playing a train was passing and the sound of the train bled into the music. The music emerging from the mechanics. As the lady who showed me around your house yesterday told me, you were inspired to write Bolero by modern machinery. By the factory machines of the time. Perhaps because it is so quiet here I am hearing notes in the music that I have not heard before. The higher notes. More celestial sounds. I walked around the cemetery for a while trying to find your grave today. I thought there might be a monument or a sign like the one for Monsieur Eiffel. But you were perhaps more modest, I asked the man at the gate where your family grave was and he brought me here and said ‘Avez une bon visite’ and when I said ‘C’est trest modeste’ he said ‘Ce n’est pas different a tous les autres.’ It is no different to any other. A little higher maybe but nothing to suggest who might be beneath. You share the tomb with your brother Edouard (1878 – 1960) and your father Joseph (1832-1908) and your mother Vivienne (1840 – 1907). The woman yesterday said your family were close to you. And now they are. I am leaving you a rose that I bought in Montparnasse yesterday and took to your home in Monfort-L’Amaury and left a petal at the monument to you there. I am taking this flower to Sarajevo too and scattering petals wherever I go. The rose is unraveling to your music, in your name. It is cold here. Unforgiving. And I wonder if this is the anniversary of your interment. You died on 28 December 1937 and so you could have been laid to rest in the first two weeks of January. It would not have taken long to bring the coffin to your family grave. We are a few metres from the gates of the cemetery. I wonder who was here. Your brother, Edouard, who inherited the house from you when you died and stayed there for a while before moving to Biarritz. He looked for someone to keep the house in his absence and found a lady in the village who was the governess of Proust. She kept the house spic and span and shipshape like the ship it resembles. And when people came to visit to pay their respects to you she would say ‘He was not as famous as my master’. You lie here in the proximity of other famous names like Louise Michel, who led the revolution, and Gustav Eiffel, who defined the skyline. And yet you are always happy to stay in their shadow. No signs. No monuments. You were always happy to let your music do the talking. It did not matter that other people found glory and fame because your name lives on. Like your spirit. In your music. The music I am listening to now. The music I am writing to now. The music I am writing my story about. Like a score. Score my story with your music. For a moment I felt I was writing your words in your voice. In your handwriting. It was as if the music has taken over and I was carried away by the Bolero. Making this journey. And when the music finishes Bolero dissolves into the sound of another train. It occurs to me that now where you lie, you hear the rhythm of modern machinery, the rhythm of Bolero all the time around you. Something you would not have heard in Montfort L’Amaury. The woman yesterday said you composed for years before writing it down. You composed in your head and in your heart. Maybe you are still composing. Still making music.


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