Maurice Ravel
No. 3 from Gaspard de la nuit

Inspired by the dark poetry of Aloysius Bertrand, Gaspard de la Nuit is a triptych evoking images of horror. The third and most famous piece depicts an evil goblin who appears in the dead of night and plays with your mind.

ID: 1832
Key: N/A
Year: 1908
Level: 8+
Period: Impressionism
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Bertrand's nightmare

This is often described as the most difficult piece Ravel composed – Ravel himself certainly couldn’t play it. Indeed, it inspires fear in many performers and remains one of the great showstoppers in the entire piano catalog. The name Scarbo is that of an evil goblin who cavorts and frolics in the night, and “Ol’ Scarbo” definitely haunts pianists who tackle the piece.

...I have heard his laugh boom from the shadow,
and his fingernails grate on the silk of my bed curtains!
I have seen him drop from the ceiling
pirouette on one foot and roll across the floor
Like the spindle of a spinning wheel
when a dark witch weaves!...


Gaspard of the Night — Fantasies in the Manner of Rembrandt and Callot is a book by Aloysius Bertrand, considered one of the first examples of modern prose poetry, which had a profound influence on many later French poets and artists. Some of Bertrand's grotesque and nightmarish poems very much appealed to Ravel, who set his impressions of three of the poems to music. The resulting suite is considered to be one of the most difficult pieces in the pianist’s repertoire – Ravel deliberately set out to make the final movement more difficult than Balakirev’s Islamey.

Forum posts about this piece:

Scarbo - Imagination by bubblessomewhere
It's hard to imagine the grotesque atmosphere of Scarbo. Maybe is there some movie that I can watch? ...

Beautiful calming slow-tempo Etudes?? by bubblessomewhere
Hello everyone! I've been looking for a slow-tempo etude to play after Scarbo. Something calming and beautiful from 20th century compo...

Ravel - Scarbo. Articulations and Pedaling by maestrowoojulee
Should I make every 'non-legato' short notes crisp? I often use finger staccato to achieve this, but when I play fast, the lengths...

Technical issues in Scarbo by crystallis
I've been playing/learning scarbo (the whole of gaspard, actually) for a while now, but i've never really mastered it technically....

Some repertoire too hard for some great pianists ???? by ignaceii
Hello, I wonder quite some time how we have to see or approach some pianists with respect to their repertoire. Nowadays any named "Gre...

Scary pieces by simonjp90
anyone know any really frightening pieces? stuff like the start of prometheus and scarbo ,things that will make you look over your shoulder....

Richter playing scarbo ?!? by thierry13
Is it me or is this an extract of Richter playing Scarbo?!? I didn't know this recording existed! Who has the complete thing? www.yout...

Learning video: Ravel - Gaspard de la nuit - Scarbo by dikai_yang
This is my attempt to play Scarbo... not even close... but I thought it'd be cool to post a video on what it's like when i'm ...

Scarbo! by fnork
After hearing a fantastic 'scarbo' at a student concert at a course I recently went to, I was inspired and felt that I should lear...

Ravel's scarbo from Gaspard de la nuit by Sergio Tiempo by g.gould

Member's recordings of piece:

Scarbo by elevateme_returns
sorry acoustic is crap. comments would be appreciated!...

Ravel: Scarbo by ElectraFingers
Another version of Scarbo. Enjoy...

Ravel: Ondine & Scarbo from "Gaspard de la Nuit" by ElectraFingers
Hello everyone, Please tell me what you think. This was recorded in a live concert. Ondine ->

Members who like this piece have also downloaded:

Scarbo No. 3 by Maurice Ravel. Sheet music and recordings of thousands of piano pieces by Maurice Ravel and many other famous composers to view in your digital device, print out or listen to.
Scarbo - No. 3 is a piece by the impressionism composer Maurice Ravel.
The composition was first published in 1908 and is included in Gaspard de la nuit by Ravel.