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Maurice Ravel

Biography

Born: Mar 7, 1875; France   Died: Dec 28, 1937; France   Period: Romantic
Maurice Ravel was among the most significant and influential composers of the early twentieth century. Although he is frequently linked with Claude Debussy as an exemplar of musical impressionism, and some of their works have a surface resemblance, Ravel possessed an independent voice that grew out of his love of a broad variety of styles, including the French Baroque, Bach, Mozart, Chopin, Spanish folk traditions, and American jazz and blues. Read more His elegant and lyrically generous body of work was not large in comparison with that of some of his contemporaries, but his compositions are notable for being meticulously and exquisitely crafted. He was especially gifted as an orchestrator, an area in which he remains unsurpassed.
Ravel's mother was of Basque heritage, a fact that accounted for his lifelong fascination with Spanish music, and his father was a Swiss inventor and engineer, most likely the source of his commitment to precision and craftsmanship. At the age of 14, he entered the Paris Conservatory, where he was a student from 1889 to 1895 and from 1897 to 1903. His primary composition teacher was Gabriel Fauré. A major disappointment of his life was his failure to win the Prix de Rome in spite of numerous attempts. The difficulty was transparently the conflict between the conservative administration of the Conservatory and Ravel's independent thinking, meaning his association with the French avant-garde (Debussy), and his interest in non-French traditions (Wagner, the Russian nationalists, Balinese gamelan). He had already established himself as a composer of prominence with works such as his String Quartet, and the piano pieces Pavane pour une infante défunte, Jeux d'eau, and the Sonatine, and his loss of the Prix de Rome in 1905 was considered such a scandal that the director of the Conservatory was forced to resign.
Ravel continued to express admiration for Debussy's music throughout his life, but as his own reputation grew stronger during the first decade of the century, a mutual professional jealousy cooled their personal relationship. Around the same time, he developed a friendship with Igor Stravinsky. The two became familiar with each other's work during Stravinsky's time in Paris and worked collaboratively on arrangements for Sergey Diaghilev.
Between 1909 and 1912, Ravel composed Daphnis et Chloé for Diaghilev and Les Ballets Russes. It was the composer's largest and most ambitious work and is widely considered his masterpiece. He wrote a second ballet for Diaghilev, La Valse, which the impresario rejected, but which went on to become one of his most popular orchestral works. Following his service in the First World War as an ambulance driver, and the death of his mother in 1917, his output was temporarily diminished. In 1925, the Monte Carlo Opera presented the premiere of another large work, the "lyric fantasy" L'enfant et les sortilčges, a collaboration with writer Colette.
American jazz and blues became increasingly intriguing to the composer. In 1928 he made a hugely successful tour of North America, where he met George Gershwin and had the opportunity to broaden his exposure to jazz. Several of his most important late works, such as the Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 2 and the Piano Concerto in G show the influence of that interest.
Ironically, Ravel, who in his youth was rejected by some elements of the French musical establishment for being a modernist, in his later years was scorned by Satie and the members of Les Six as being old-fashioned, a symbol of the establishment. In 1932, an injury he sustained in an automobile accident started a physical decline that resulted in memory loss and an inability to communicate. He died in 1937, following brain surgery.
In spite of leaving one of the richest and most important bodies of work of any early twentieth century composer, one that included virtually every genre except for symphony and liturgical music, Ravel is most often remembered for an arrangement of another composer's work, and for a piece he considered among his least significant. His orchestral arrangement of Mussorgsky's piano suite Pictures at an Exhibition has been wildly popular with concertgoers (and the royalties from it made Ravel a rich man). Boléro, a 15-minute Spanish dance in which a single theme is repeated in a variety of instrumental guises, has been ridiculed for its insistent repetitiveness, but it is also a popular favorite and one of the most familiar and frequently performed orchestral works of the twentieth century. Read less
Ravel, Debussy / Pierre Boulez [6-CD Set]
Release Date: 05/08/2012   Label: Deutsche Grammophon  
Catalog: 001676802   Number of Discs: 6
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Ravel, Chausson: Piano Trios / Wanderer Trio
Release Date: 03/20/2007   Label: Harmonia Mundi Musique D'abord  
Catalog: 1951967   Number of Discs: 1
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Reflections - Ravel, Decaux, Schonberg / Frederic Chiu
Release Date: 02/14/2012   Label: Harmonia Mundi  
Catalog: 1957166   Number of Discs: 1
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20th Century String Quartets - Debussy, Ravel, Toldra & Zemlinsky / Cuarteto Casals
Release Date: 07/10/2012   Label: Harmonia Mundi  
Catalog: 508390   Number of Discs: 2
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Debussy, Ravel: String Quartets, Etc / Kodaly Quartet
Release Date: 02/15/1994   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8550249   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Miroirs: Alborada del gracioso

Browse 1-25 of 131 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Pierre Boulez - The Complete Columbia Album Collection
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 301333 Release Date: 11/24/2014   Number of Discs: 67
    Composer:  Béla Bartók,  Alexander Scriabin,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Alban Berg  ... 
    Performer:  Karl Dönch,  Isabel Strauss,  Walter Berry,  Fritz Uhl  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez,  Anton Webern
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic,  Camerata Singers,  Schola Cantorum New York  ... 
    Recommendation
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  • 2.
    Pierre Boulez: 3 Classic Albums [limited Edition]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002093202 Release Date: 07/15/2014   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Krystian Zimerman
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 3.
    Ravel: Orchestral Works; Saint-Saens: Organ Symphony / Morlot, Seattle Symphony
    Label: Seattle Symphony Orchestra   Catalog: 1002 Release Date: 04/29/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Camille Saint-Saëns
    Performer:  Joseph Adam
    Conductor:  Ludovic Morlot
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Seattle Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $17.99
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  • 4.
    Masques: Theatrical Reminiscences
    Label: Genuin Musikproduction   Catalog: 14295 Release Date: 02/25/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Igor Stravinsky,  Maurice Ravel,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Franz Liszt  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pianoduo Chipak-Kushnir
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  • 5.
    Carlo Maria Giulini: The London Years
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 93739 Release Date: 12/03/2013   Number of Discs: 17
    Composer:  Antonín Dvorák,  Modest Mussorgsky,  Benjamin Britten,  César Franck  ... 
    Performer:  Sheila Armstrong,  Anna Reynolds,  Robert Tear,  John Shirley-Quirk
    Conductor:  Carlo Maria Giulini
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra,  New Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
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  • 6.
    Ravel: Orchestral Works Vol 1 / Deneve, Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra
    Label: Hänssler Classic   Catalog: 93305 Release Date: 10/29/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Conductor:  Stéphane Denčve
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  • 7.
    Berlin Philharmonic - Centenary Edition
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001923302 Release Date: 10/22/2013   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Hector Berlioz,  Richard Wagner,  Richard Strauss  ... 
    Performer:  Géza Anda,  Walter Berry,  Gundula Janowitz,  Hilde Rössl-Majdan  ... 
    Conductor:  Arthur Nikisch,  Alfred Hertz,  Richard Strauss,  Bruno Walter  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Singverein,  Swedish Radio Chorus  ... 
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  • 8.
    Fritz Reiner - The Complete RCA Album Collection
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 370198 Release Date: 10/15/2013   Number of Discs: 63
    Composer:  Richard Strauss,  Johannes Brahms,  Rolf Liebermann,  Ludwig van Beethoven  ... 
    Performer:  Artur Rubinstein,  Jascha Heifetz,  Emil Gilels,  Inge Borkh  ... 
    Conductor:  Fritz Reiner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  Chicago Lyric Theatre Chorus,  Studio Orchestra
    Recommendation
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  • 9.
    Bernard Haitink - The Philips Years [20-CD Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001903502 Release Date: 09/24/2013   Number of Discs: 20
    Composer:  Béla Bartók,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms,  Richard Wagner  ... 
    Performer:  Henryk Szeryng,  Herman Krebbers,  Menahem Pressler,  Isidore Cohen  ... 
    Conductor:  Bernard Haitink
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Beaux Arts Trio  ... 
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  • 10.
    Ravel: Bolero - Orchestral Masterpieces
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 2564651447 Release Date: 08/27/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Francois-René Duchable,  Pierre Amoyal,  Rachel Yakar,  Jean-Claude Hermengat  ... 
    Conductor:  Armin Jordan
    CD: $24.99
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  • 11.
    Leon Fleisher - The Complete Album Collection
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 545997 Release Date: 07/16/2013   Number of Discs: 23
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  César Franck,  Frederick Delius  ... 
    Performer:  Leon Fleisher,  Jules Eskin,  Benita Valente,  Harold Wright  ... 
    Conductor:  George Szell,  Seiji Ozawa,  Leon Fleisher,  Szymon Goldberg
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra,  Juilliard String Quartet,  Boston Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 12.
    Ravel: Orchestral Music, Vol. 1 / Slatkin, Orchestre National De Lyon
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8572887 Release Date: 11/13/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Conductor:  Leonard Slatkin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lyon National Orchestra
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  • 13.
    Ravel: Orchestral Music, Vol. 1 / Slatkin, Orchestre National De Lyon [blu-ray Audio]
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 30 Release Date: 11/13/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Conductor:  Leonard Slatkin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lyon National Orchestra
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  • 14.
    Ravel Complete Edition [14-CD Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001728702 Release Date: 10/09/2012   Number of Discs: 14
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  François-Joël Thiollier,  Jean-Yves Thibaudet,  Pierre-Laurent Aimard,  Ivo Pogorelich  ... 
    Conductor:  Simon Rattle,  Charles Dutoit,  Ernest Ansermet,  John Eliot Gardiner  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Melos Ensemble London,  Nash Ensemble,  Melos String Quartet Stuttgart  ... 
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  • 15.
    Dances & Dreams - Gala Concert From Berlin 2011 [blu-ray]
    Label: Euroarts   Catalog: 2058724 Release Date: 09/25/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Antonín Dvorák,  Edvard Grieg,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Evgeni Kissin
    Conductor:  Simon Rattle
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 16.
    The French Album / Stephen Hough
    Label: Hyperion   Catalog: 67890 Release Date: 09/12/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Gabriel Fauré,  Maurice Ravel,  Jules Massenet  ... 
    Performer:  Stephen Hough
    Recommendation
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  • 17.
    Dances & Dreams - Gala Concert From Berlin 2011
    Label: Euroarts   Catalog: 2058728 Release Date: 08/28/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Antonín Dvorák,  Edvard Grieg,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Evgeni Kissin
    Conductor:  Simon Rattle
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 18.
    Sergiu Celibidache / Celibidache, Munchner Philharmoniker
    Label: Euroarts   Catalog: 2059118 Release Date: 05/29/2012   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Robert Schumann,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Johannes Brahms,  Antonín Dvorák  ... 
    Conductor:  Sergiu Celibidache
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Philharmonic Orchestra,  Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra
    DVD: $39.99
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  • 19.
    Ravel, Debussy / Pierre Boulez [6-CD Set]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001676802 Release Date: 05/08/2012   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Franklin Cohen,  Anne Sofie von Otter,  Lisa Wellbaum,  Alison Hagley  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra Chorus,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 20.
    Bolero - Best Of Ravel
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 7317132 Release Date: 02/14/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
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  • 21.
    Rimsky-korsakov: Scheherazade; Ravel: Daphnis Et Chloe, Suite I; La Valse; Alborada Del Gracioso
    Label: Archipel   Catalog: 213 Release Date: 01/01/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov,  Maurice Ravel
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  • 22.
    The Spanish Experience
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 671885 Release Date: 11/15/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Joaquin Rodrigo,  Enrique Granados,  Francisco Tarrega,  Manuel de Falla  ... 
    Performer:  Sharon Isbin,  Jean-François Heisser,  Wolfgang Lendle,  Jennifer Larmore  ... 
    Conductor:  José Serebrier,  Armin Jordan,  Giuseppe Sinopoli,  Alain Lombard  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pro Cantione Antiqua
    CD: $14.99
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  • 23.
    Ives, Bartok, Debussy, Ravel / Joanna Macgregor
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 672037 Release Date: 09/27/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Samuel Barber,  Béla Bartók,  Claude Debussy,  Charles Ives  ... 
    Performer:  Joanna MacGregor
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  • 24.
    Ravel: Daphnis Et Chloe Suite No. 2; Rapsodie Espagnole; Bolero; Une Barque Sur L'ocean
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 97987 Release Date: 08/09/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Murray Panitz
    Conductor:  Riccardo Muti
    CD: $12.99
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  • 25.
    Ravel: Orchestral Works / Haitink, Concertgebouw
    Label: Newton Classics   Catalog: 8802068 Release Date: 06/28/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Conductor:  Bernard Haitink
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
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