Maurice Ravel
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1875-03-07
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Maurice Ravel

Maurice Ravel Biography (BBC)

Could it be said that Ravel composed in the shadow of Debussy? Their names so frequently trip off the tongue together that it’s too easy to ignore their differences. While there were similarities in their musical language – both used ‘added-note’ harmonies and melodies often more like oriental arabesques than Romantic tunes – the 13 years that separated them were crucial. Debussy began composing around 1880, while Ravel didn’t really get going until the mid-1890s. How the musical climate had changed in the interim!

Piano-playing was at the centre of Ravel’s musical life during his teens. At the age of 13 he had met Ricardo Viñes, the pianist who was later to become the champion of much piano music by both Debussy and Ravel. Together, they played Chabrier’s Trois valses romantiques to the composer.

Across the turn of the century, Ravel sporadically studied with Fauré and began a spectacularly unsuccessful pursuit of the Prix de Rome, awarded by the French Académie des Beaux-Arts. Reading between the lines, his attitude to his formal teaching seemed entirely the opposite of Debussy’s: while the latter composer was a rebellious challenger, Ravel seemed more in pursuit of classical perfection.

Indebted to Chabrier, his first lasting piece was the Pavane pour une infante défunte for piano (1899, later orchestrated). More groundbreaking was his piano piece Jeux d’eau (1901), which he wrote when he was 26 and which vied with Debussy’s ‘Reflets dans l’eau’ from the first book of Images for the honour of inaugurating the new Impressionist piano style.

He began to turn his attention to a wide variety of forms: the opulent oriental orchestral songs of Shéhérazade date from 1903, the same year in which he finished his String Quartet, a work which, like the Sonatine for piano (begun the same year), shows two opposite sides of his musical personality: the one sybaritic and hedonistic, the other Classical, formal and restrained. Somewhere between the two lies the delightful sound-world of the Introduction and Allegro for harp and chamber group.

Another talent of Ravel’s was his virtuosity in pastiche, which he used to great effect, especially in his two operas: L’heure espagnole (1907–9) parodies both Spanish music and Offenbach, while the delightful L’enfant et les sortilèges (1920–25) is a self-confessed parade of pastiches of all kinds of music, including ragtime.

Association with Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes resulted in the opulently orchestrated Daphnis and Chloë (1909–12), with its masterly depiction of a sunrise. Amid deteriorating health Ravel, in his fifties, produced his two piano concertos as well as his bestseller, Boléro, which he flippantly described as a ‘piece for orchestra without music’.

Profile © Richard Langham Smith

Maurice Ravel Biography (Wikipedia)

Joseph Maurice Ravel ( rə-VEL, rav-EL,; 7 March 1875 – 28 December 1937) was a French composer, pianist and conductor. He is often associated with impressionism along with his elder contemporary Claude Debussy, although both composers rejected the term. In the 1920s and 1930s Ravel was internationally regarded as France's greatest living composer.

Born to a music-loving family, Ravel attended France's premier music college, the Paris Conservatoire; he was not well regarded by its conservative establishment, whose biased treatment of him caused a scandal. After leaving the conservatoire, Ravel found his own way as a composer, developing a style of great clarity, incorporating elements of baroque, neoclassicism and, in his later works, jazz. He liked to experiment with musical form, as in his best-known work, Boléro (1928), in which repetition takes the place of development. He made some orchestral arrangements of other composers' music, of which his 1922 version of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition is the best known.

This entry is from Wikipedia, the user-contributed encyclopedia. It may not have been reviewed by professional editors and is licensed under an Attribution-ShareAlike Creative Commons License. If you find the biography content factually incorrect or highly offensive you can edit this article at Wikipedia. Find out more about our use of this data.

Maurice Ravel Performances & Interviews


Maurice Ravel Tracks

Maurice Ravel
2nd movement: Blues, from Violin sonata in G major
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2nd movement: Blues, from Violin sonata in G major

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Maurice Ravel
Une barque sur l'océan (Miroirs)
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Une barque sur l'océan (Miroirs)

Une barque sur l'océan (Miroirs)

Orchestra
National Youth Orchestra of France
Conductor
Maurice Ravel
Le Tombeau de Couperin
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Le Tombeau de Couperin
Maurice Ravel
L'Heure Espagnole
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L'Heure Espagnole
Maurice Ravel
Miroirs
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Miroirs
Maurice Ravel
Sheherazade - 3 poems for voice and orchestra (1903)
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Sheherazade - 3 poems for voice and orchestra (1903)
Maurice Ravel
Sonatine
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Sonatine
Maurice Ravel
Miroirs: Oiseaux tristes
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Miroirs: Oiseaux tristes
Maurice Ravel
Tzigane
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Tzigane
Modest Mussorgsky
Promenade & Gnomus (Pictures from an exhibition)
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Promenade & Gnomus (Pictures from an exhibition)
Maurice Ravel
String Quartet in F major
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String Quartet in F major
Maurice Ravel
La vallée des cloches
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La vallée des cloches
Claude Debussy
Danse 'Tarantelle styrienne'
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Danse 'Tarantelle styrienne'

Danse 'Tarantelle styrienne'

Orchestrator
Orchestra
Lyon Opera Orchestra
Maurice Ravel
Deux Mélodies hébraïques (No 1, Kaddisch/ No 2, L'Enigme éternelle)
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Deux Mélodies hébraïques (No 1, Kaddisch/ No 2, L'Enigme éternelle)
Maurice Ravel
Gaspard de la Nuit
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Gaspard de la Nuit
Maurice Ravel
La valse
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La valse
Maurice Ravel
String Quartet in F major (2nd movt)
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String Quartet in F major (2nd movt)

String Quartet in F major (2nd movt)

Music Arranger
Quatuor Morphing
Ensemble
Quatuor Morphing
Last played on
Maurice Ravel
Piano Trio in A minor, 3rd mvt: Passacaille
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Piano Trio in A minor, 3rd mvt: Passacaille
Maurice Ravel
Feria (Rapsodie espagnole)
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Feria (Rapsodie espagnole)
Maurice Ravel
Trois poemes de Stephane Mallarme: I. Soupir
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Trois poemes de Stephane Mallarme: I. Soupir
Maurice Ravel
Rhapsodie Espagnole; 4th movement Feria (excerpt)
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Rhapsodie Espagnole; 4th movement Feria (excerpt)
Maurice Ravel
Piece en Forme de Habanera
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Piece en Forme de Habanera
Maurice Ravel
Là-bas vers l' église
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Là-bas vers l' église
Maurice Ravel
Piano Concerto in G major (3rd mvt)
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Piano Concerto in G major (3rd mvt)
Maurice Ravel
Bolero: Finale
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Bolero: Finale
Maurice Ravel
Mother Goose Suite
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Mother Goose Suite
Modest Mussorgsky
Pictures from an exhibition, orch. Ravel
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Pictures from an exhibition, orch. Ravel
Maurice Ravel
Alborada del gracioso (Miroirs)
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Alborada del gracioso (Miroirs)
Maurice Ravel
Lullaby (Berceuse) on the name of Faure
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Lullaby (Berceuse) on the name of Faure
Maurice Ravel
3 Chansons for unaccompanied chorus
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3 Chansons for unaccompanied chorus
Maurice Ravel
La vallée des cloches (Miroirs)
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La vallée des cloches (Miroirs)
Claude Debussy
Tarantelle styrienne
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Tarantelle styrienne
Maurice Ravel
Piano Trio, M. 67: II. Pantoum
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Piano Trio, M. 67: II. Pantoum
Maurice Ravel
Bolero for orchestra
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Bolero for orchestra
Maurice Ravel
Gaspard de la nuit for piano
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Gaspard de la nuit for piano
Maurice Ravel
Le Gibet (Gaspard de la nuit)
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Le Gibet (Gaspard de la nuit)
Maurice Ravel
Piano Concerto in G major (2nd mvt)
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Piano Concerto in G major (2nd mvt)
Maurice Ravel
Le Tombeau de Couperin
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Le Tombeau de Couperin
Maurice Ravel
Rapsodie espagnole vers. for orchestra
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Rapsodie espagnole vers. for orchestra
Maurice Ravel
Bolero for orchestra
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Bolero for orchestra
Maurice Ravel
Un barque sur l'ocean
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Un barque sur l'ocean
Maurice Ravel
String Quartet in F major (2nd mvt)
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String Quartet in F major (2nd mvt)
Maurice Ravel
Chansons madécasses, M. 78: No. 1, Nahandove
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Chansons madécasses, M. 78: No. 1, Nahandove
Maurice Ravel
Rapsodie espagnole for 2 pianos
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Rapsodie espagnole for 2 pianos
Maurice Ravel
Menuet sur le nom de Haydn
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Menuet sur le nom de Haydn
Maurice Ravel
Five o'clock Foxtrot
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Five o'clock Foxtrot
Maurice Ravel
Sérénade grotesque
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Sérénade grotesque
Maurice Ravel
Sonatine (1903-05)
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Sonatine (1903-05)
Maurice Ravel
Prelude (Le tombeau de Couperin)
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Prelude (Le tombeau de Couperin)
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