Maurice Ravel, classical music composer

Maurice Ravel image

Maurice Ravel

Biography

Born in the Basque town of Ciboure, France on March 7th, 1875, Maurice Ravel grew up in a happy and intellectually stimulating environment. His father, a Swiss inventor and industrialist, often took Maurice and his younger brother Édouard to see the latest mechanical devices produced in factories. His mother grew up in Madrid and was largely responsible for Maurice's inclination toward Spanish influences in his compositions. Three months after Maurice's birth, the family moved to Paris. At the age of six, he began taking piano lessons and received his first instruction in the tools of composition—harmony and counterpoint. Although he was a talented performer, Maurice showed a definite preference for composition.

Unlike the parents of many past composers, Ravel's parents openly encouraged his musical pursuits and eventually sent him to study piano at the Paris Conservatoire. Though talented and winning first prize in the piano student competition in 1891, his academic performance was lackluster at best. In 1895, after failing to earn a competitive medal for three straight years, he was expelled. Three years later in 1898, he returned to the Conservatoire as a composition student and studied under Gabriel Fauré. His studies once again, however, failed to meet requirements. He tried multiple times, though unsuccessfully, during this period to win the Prix de Rome. One of the compositions Ravel submitted, his String Quartet in F, has become a staple of the chamber music repertoire. His last attempt for the prize, in 1905, caused a scandal among the jurors, which engulfed the entire musical community of Paris, and ultimately lead to the resignation of the Conservatoire's director, Théodore Dubois, and the naming of Fauré as his successor.

In contrast to many of the young musicians during Ravel's student years in Paris, he was not a "bohemian." Instead, he was remarkably well-read, an intellectual and conscientious of and exacting in his appearance. These personality traits showed up in the meticulous care in which he composed and his contrast to the Bohemian musicians of his day was evident in his relationship to fellow composer Claude Debussy. The two composers met in 1890s. For Ravel, Debussy's striking applications of harmony served as inspiration. They frequently met to play each other's compositions. Though today both are considered leading figures of Impressionism, their approaches to music were wholly different. Debussy was spontaneous and eschewed many of the traditional teachings of composition and music theory. Ravel, to the contrary, took painstaking measures to ensure the technical perfection of his work, employed Classical forms, and studied with care the works of past composers, such as Mozart, Beethoven, Saint-Säens and others.

The first of Ravel's composition to become popular were Jeux d'eau and Pavane pour une infant défunte composed in the first years of the 20th century. A few years later, in 1907, he completed his first "Spanish" piece—Rhapsodie espagnole. Written originally for piano four hands and then later orchestrated, it premiered in 1908 to mostly good reviews. In 1909, he began work on Daphnis et Chloé, a ballet commissioned by impresario Sergei Diaghilev. Tensions arose between the projects main contributing artists—costume and set designer Léon Bakst, librettist Michel Fokine and Ravel—and the project was nearly cancelled. Nevertheless the project was completed but endured a rather cool reception lasting only two performances. However, a year later the work was revived and received much acclaim.

With the outbreak of World War I, Ravel, due to his small stature, attempted to enlist as a flyer. However, his ill health prevented him from doing so. Instead, he secured a position as a truck driver at the Verdun front. Despite this, he managed to still compose some music, including his popular Le tombeau de Couperin, influenced by the music of 18th century composer François Couperin. During this time, his mother also passed away. Ravel remained extremely close to his mother and her passing caused him much despair and further weakened his ill health.

Following the war and with the death of Debussy, Ravel came to be viewed as the leading French composer. In 1921, he moved to the French countryside to compose but still frequently returned to Paris for performances. A year later, he produced his orchestration of Modest Mussorgsky's piano suite Pictures at an Exhibition. His orchestration has become the most performed arrangement and brought Ravel considerable fame and fortune. In 1928, he also made a successful four-month tour of North America, performing in New York City and Boston, and establishing his international reputation. During his trip, he met American composer George Gershwin, who took him to hear jazz in Harlem. Upon his return to France, he composed Bolero, perhaps his most popular and successful composition for orchestra. Ravel designed the work as an experiment and was somewhat shocked by it reception and success.

In 1932, Ravel suffered a blow to the head in a car accident. At the time, the injury was not considered serious. However, the accident later began to take a drastic toll on Ravel's health. He frequently became absent-minded and began to show symptoms akin to aphasia. Soon, he was unable to compose and had to abandon a score he was composing for the film Adventures of Don Quixote. In 1937, he consented to brain surgery. He awoke briefly after the surgery but then lapsed into a coma. He died shortly thereafter at the age of 62.


Composer Title Date Action
Maurice Ravel Pavane pour une infante défunte 01/14/2009 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Pavane pour une infante défunte 05/02/2009 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Pavane pour une infante défunte 01/19/2009 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Daphnis and Chloé, Suite No. 2 03/22/2010 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Pavane pour une infante défunte 11/02/2010 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Pavane pour une infante défunte 03/09/2011 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Miroirs 05/26/2011 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Le martin-pêcheur, from Histoires naturelles 09/24/2011 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Le martin-pêcheur, from Histoires naturelles 10/25/2011 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Menuet sur le nom d'Haydn 12/21/2010 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Jeux d'eau 03/10/2012 Play
Maurice Ravel Jeux d’eau (Fountains) 01/02/2013 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Jeux d’eau (Fountains) 11/19/2011 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Jeux d’eau (Fountains) 07/18/2011 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Jeux d’eau (Fountains) 08/29/2009 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Jeux d’eau (Fountains) 01/13/2009 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Piano Concerto for the Left Hand 02/20/2010 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Ma Mère l'Oye, cinq pièces enfantines (Mother Goose) 01/26/2009 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Le Tombeau de Couperin 04/28/2009 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel La Valse 01/13/2009 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel La Valse 01/21/2009 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel La Valse 10/13/2011 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel La Valse 09/21/2011 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel La Valse 01/20/2009 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel La Valse 09/06/2012 Play
Maurice Ravel La Valse 01/14/2009 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel La Valse 01/06/2011 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel La Valse 05/04/2009 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Blues, from Sonata for violin and piano 06/20/2011 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Movements 2&3, Sonata for Violin and Piano 02/06/2012 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Sonata for Violin and Piano 04/16/2012 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Sonata for Violin and Piano 10/17/2011 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Sonata for Violin and Piano 01/08/2009 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Sonata for Violin and Piano 04/11/2013 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Sonata for Violin and Piano 01/24/2009 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Sonata for violin and piano in G Major 08/18/2011 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Violin sonata No. 2 10/19/2011 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Gaspard de la Nuit - Scarbo 04/25/2011 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Gaspard de la Nuit - Scarbo 01/06/2012 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Gaspard de la Nuit - Scarbo 06/08/2011 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Gaspard de la Nuit - Scarbo 02/07/2011 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Gaspard de la Nuit - Ondine 02/08/2011 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Gaspard de la Nuit - Ondine 01/06/2012 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Ondine, from Gaspar de la Nuit 03/16/2009 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Ondine, from Gaspar de la Nuit 01/25/2009 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Ondine, from Gaspar de la Nuit 01/30/2010 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Gaspard de la Nuit - Le Gibet 02/08/2011 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Gaspard de la Nuit - Le Gibet 01/06/2012 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Gaspard de la Nuit - Le Gibet 04/25/2011 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel String Quartet in F Major 01/12/2012 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel String Quartet in F Major 08/27/2011 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Concerto No. 2 in D Major for Piano and Orchestra 01/15/2009 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Piano Concerto in G - I. Allegramente (orchestral reduction) 06/17/2011 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Piano Concerto in G - II. Adagio assai (orchestral reduction) 06/17/2011 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Rhapsodie espagnole 01/15/2009 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Alborada del Gracioso, from Miroirs 10/02/2011 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Alborada del Gracioso, from Miroirs 11/12/2012 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Alborada del Gracioso, from Miroirs 04/18/2013 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Alborada del Gracioso, from Miroirs 08/20/2009 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Alborada del Gracioso, from Miroirs 01/20/2009 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Alborada del Gracioso, from Miroirs 05/04/2011 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Alborada del Gracioso, from Miroirs 01/09/2009 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Alborada del Gracioso, from Miroirs 05/28/2011 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Alborada del Grazioso (arr. for cello) 02/18/2009 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Noctuelle, from Miroirs 01/24/2009 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Noctuelle, from Miroirs 05/27/2011 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Noctuelles from Miroirs 06/27/2011 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Oiseaux tristes, from Miroirs 06/25/2011 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Oiseaux tristes, from Miroirs 05/27/2011 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Oiseaux tristes, from Miroirs 11/12/2012 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Une barque sur l'océan, from Miroirs 05/28/2011 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Une barque sur l'ocean, from Mirours 05/12/2011 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Une barque sur l'ocean, from Mirours 06/25/2010 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Une barque sure l'océan, from Miroirs 01/15/2009 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Le paon, from Histoires naturelles 09/24/2011 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Le paon, from Histoires naturelles 10/25/2011 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel La vallée des cloches, from Miroirs 07/08/2011 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel La vallée des cloches, from Miroirs 05/28/2011 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel La vallée des cloches, from Miroirs 11/12/2012 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Le cygne, from Histoires naturelles 09/24/2011 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Le cygne, from Histoires naturelles 10/25/2011 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Le grillon, from Histoires naturelles 09/24/2011 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Le grillon, from Histoires naturelles 10/25/2011 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Histoires naturelles 09/24/2011 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Le pintade, from Histoires naturelles 09/24/2011 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Le pintade, from Histoires naturelles 10/25/2011 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel À la manière de Chabrier 01/12/2009 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Tzigane 11/05/2010 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Tzigane 06/02/2010 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Tzigane 12/02/2009 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Tzigane 01/22/2009 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Tzigane 10/26/2011 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Tzigane 03/01/2011 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel La Valse 07/02/2013 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Chanson à boire, from Don Quichotte à Dulcinée 03/01/2013 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Chanson épique, from Don Quichotte à Dulcinée 03/01/2013 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Chanson romanesque, from Don Quichotte à Dulcinée 03/01/2013 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Piano Trio in a minor 02/24/2009 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Piano Trio in a minor 09/07/2011 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Berceuse sur le nom de Gabriel Faure 03/01/2011 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Pièce en Forme de Habanera 06/13/2010 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Pièce en Forme de Habanera 04/18/2013 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Pièce en Forme de Habanera 01/19/2009 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Pièce en Forme de Habanera 01/10/2009 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Sonata for Violin and Cello 08/31/2009 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Sonatine 01/09/2009 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Sonatine 09/22/2011 Play
Maurice Ravel Sonatine 05/02/2012 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Cinq mélodies populaires Grecques 05/02/2010 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Cinq Mélodies Populaires Grecques 03/21/2009 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Cinq mélodies populaires grecques 03/24/2012 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Sonata for Violin and Piano 08/06/2013 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Pièce en Forme de Habanera 11/08/2013 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Sonata for Violin and Piano 01/16/2014 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Valses Nobles et Sentimentales 03/10/2014 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Ondine, from Gaspar de la Nuit 05/07/2014 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Violin sonata No. 2 in G Major 06/19/2014 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel La Valse 07/21/2014 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Piano Concerto for the Left Hand 08/04/2014 Play Add to playlist
Maurice Ravel Piano Trio in a minor 08/28/2014 Play Add to playlist