The Bal des Ardents
(Ball of the Burning Men
) was a masquerade ball
held on 28 January 1393 in Paris
at which Charles VI of France
performed in a dance with five members of the French nobility
. Four of the dancers were killed in a fire caused by a torch brought in by a spectator, Charles' brother Louis, Duke of Orléans
. Charles and another of the dancers survived. The ball was one of a number of events intended to entertain the young king, who in the previous summer had suffered an attack of insanity. The event undermined confidence in Charles' capacity to rule; Parisians considered it proof of courtly decadence and threatened to rebel against the more powerful members of the nobility. The public's outrage forced the king and his brother Orléans, whom a contemporary chronicler accused of attempted regicide
and sorcery, into offering penance for the event.
The event was chronicled by contemporary writers such as the Monk of St Denis and Jean Froissart, and illustrated in a number of 15th-century illuminated manuscripts by painters such as the Master of Anthony of Burgundy.
Pierre Benjamin Monteux
(4 April 1875 – 1 July 1964) was a French (later American) conductor
. After violin and viola
studies, and a decade as an orchestral player and occasional conductor, he began to receive regular conducting engagements in 1907. He came to prominence when, for Sergei Diaghilev
's Ballets Russes
company between 1911 and 1914, he conducted the world premieres of Stravinsky
's The Rite of Spring
and other prominent works including Petrushka
's Daphnis et Chloé
, and Debussy
. Thereafter he directed orchestras around the world for more than half a century.
From 1917 to 1919 Monteux was the principal conductor of the French repertoire at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. He led the Boston Symphony Orchestra (1919–24), Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra (1924–34), Orchestre Symphonique de Paris (1929–38) and San Francisco Symphony (1936–52). In 1961, aged eighty-six, he accepted the chief conductorship of the London Symphony Orchestra, a post which he held until his death three years later. Although known for his performances of the French repertoire, his chief love was the music of German composers, above all Brahms.
In 1932 he began a conducting class in Paris, which he developed into a summer school that was later moved to his summer home in Les Baux in the south of France. After moving permanently to the US in 1942, and taking American citizenship, he founded a school for conductors and orchestral musicians in Hancock, Maine.