Habanera is a song and dance of Cuban origin, based on the
music of African slaves. The name was derived from the
country's capital city, Havana (in Spanish, Habana). The
Habanera was made popular in classical music of the 19th
century by Bizet in his opera Carmen, first performed in
1875. Habanera is the shorter, popular name for an aria
introduced in the first act, L'amour est un oiseau rebelle
('Love is a rebellious bird').
Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) first used the Habanera form
in a work for two pianos, Sites auriculaires, composed
in 1895. It was performed in 1898 with little success
and forgotten until a publication appeared much later in
1975. However, Ravel did use that Habanera movement in
his well-known Rhapsodie espagnole, composed in 1907.
During the time he was working on Rhapsodie espagnole,
Ravel was commissioned by A. L. Hettich to write a short
piece for voice and piano as one of a series of studies
by contemporary composers for use in his voice classes
at the Conservatoire. Ravel's Vocalise etude en forme de
Habanera was completed in March 1907. It was
subsequently arranged in several different instrumental
versions under the title "Piece en forme de habanera."
This current edition, adapted by John Anderson for
alto saxophone and piano, shortens the title to