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 sortilèges, 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

Debussy, Ravel: Music for Two Pianos / Ashkenazys
Release Date: 08/25/2009   Label: Decca  
Catalog: 001312902   Number of Discs: 1
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Ravel: Piano Concertos, Gaspard de la Nuit / Francois
Release Date: 01/12/1999   Label: Emi Great Recordings Of The Century  
Catalog: 66957   Number of Discs: 1
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Martha Argerich Vol 2 - Liszt, Prokofiev, Ravel
Release Date: 06/10/2014   Label: Doremi Records  
Catalog: 6029   Number of Discs: 1
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Debussy & Ravel On The Organ / Gunnar Idenstam
Release Date: 07/08/2014   Label: Bis  
Catalog: 2049   Number of Discs: 1
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Ravel: Daphnis Et Chloe / Haitink, London Philharmonic
Release Date: 03/27/2012   Label: Lpo  
Catalog: 59   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Miroirs: Alborada del gracioso

Browse 76-100 of 146 Available Recordings
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  • 76.
    The Very Best Of Ravel
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8552125 Release Date: 04/25/2006   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  François-Joël Thiollier,  David Abramovitz,  Laurent Naouri,  Howard Zhang  ... 
    Conductor:  Antoni Wit,  Adrian Leaper,  Kenneth Jean,  Takuo Yuasa
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Slovak Philharmonic Choir  ... 
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  • 77.
    Gemini - Ravel: Orchestral Works / Jean Martinon
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 76960 Release Date: 02/21/2006   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Conductor:  Jean Martinon
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestre de Paris
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  • 78.
    Bernstein In Paris - The Ravel Concerts
    Label: Kultur Video   Catalog: 1337 Release Date: 01/31/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Boris Belkin,  Marilyn Horne,  Leonard Bernstein
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Orchestra of France
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  • 79.
    Leonard Bernstein - The Concert Collection
    Label: Kultur Video   Catalog: 1525 Release Date: 10/25/2005   Number of Discs: 9
    Composer:  Leonard Bernstein,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Dmitri Shostakovich,  Robert Schumann  ... 
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein
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  • 80.
    Ravel: Bolero, La Valse, Etc / Boulez, Nypo, Et Al
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 92758 Release Date: 10/18/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic,  Cleveland Orchestra,  Camerata Singers
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  • 81.
    Horacio Nuguid Plays Chopin, Ravel, Rachmaninoff
    Label: Cd Baby   Catalog: 5637418645 Release Date: 10/11/2005  
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin,  Antonio Molina,  Francisco Buencamino,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Horacio Nuguid
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  • 82.
    International Piano Festival Vol 1 / Tammam, Shannon, Et Al
    Label: Palexa   Catalog: 521 Release Date: 10/11/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Igor Stravinsky,  Maurice Ravel,  Charles Ives,  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Nari Matsuura,  Robert Shannon,  Sondra Tammam
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  • 83.
    Ravel: Bolero, La Valse, Etc / Karajan, Berlin Philharmonic
    Label: Emi Great Artists Of The Century   Catalog: 76860 Release Date: 08/02/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Orchestre de Paris
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  • 84.
    Weekend Classics - A Ravel Weekend
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 000448702 Release Date: 06/14/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Conductor:  Seiji Ozawa,  Claudio Abbado
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
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  • 85.
    Ravel: Bolero, Piano Concerto, Etc / Litton, Pesek, Et Al
    Label: Virgin Classics   Catalog: 82000 Release Date: 03/29/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Andrew Litton
    Conductor:  Libor Pesek,  Andrew Litton
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
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  • 86.
    Historical - Ravel: Concerto For Left Hand, Etc / Fleisher
    Label: Vanguard   Catalog: 1614 Release Date: 03/22/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Leon Fleisher
    Conductor:  Sergiu Comissiona
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
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  • 87.
    Ravel: Orchestral Works / Previn, Royal Po
    Label: Emi Classics Encore   Catalog: 85078 Release Date: 03/01/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Jeffrey Bryant
    Conductor:  André Previn
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 88.
    Famous Conductors Of The Past - René Leibowitz
    Label: Preiser Records   Catalog: 90601 Release Date: 02/22/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Arnold Schoenberg
    Performer:  René Leibowitz
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Radio Orchestra,  Paris New Symphony Society Orchestra
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  • 89.
    Ravel: Gaspard De La Nuit, Etc / Eschenbach, Barto, Et Al
    Label: Ondine   Catalog: 1051 Release Date: 02/08/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Carole Bouquet,  Tzimon Barto
    Conductor:  Christoph Eschenbach
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestre de Paris
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  • 90.
    Ravel: Orchestral Music / Tortelier, Ulster Orchestra
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 10251 Release Date: 10/19/2004   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Colin Fleming,  Rachel Masters,  Linda Finnie,  Christopher Blake  ... 
    Conductor:  Yan Pascal Tortelier
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ulster Orchestra,  Belfast Philharmonic Society Chorus,  Renaissance Singers
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  • 91.
    Ravel: Bolero, Etc / Boulez, Berliner Philharmoniker
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 000289436 Release Date: 09/14/2004   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 92.
    Debussy: La Mer, Nocturnes; Ravel: Alborada, Daphnis & Chloe Suite 2 / Giulini
    Label: Emi Great Recordings Of The Century   Catalog: 62759 Release Date: 04/06/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel
    Conductor:  Carlo Maria Giulini
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Philharmonia Chorus
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  • 93.
    Label: Claves   Catalog: 2201 Release Date: 02/25/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jesús y Gárate Arámbarri,  Maurice Ravel,  Francisco Escudero,  Andres Isasi  ... 
    Performer:  Maria Bayo,  Jonathan Carney,  Asier Polo
    Conductor:  Cristian Mandeal,  Gilbert Varga,  Arturo Tamayo,  Enrique Garcia-Asensio  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Basque National Orchestra
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  • 94.
    Ravel: Piano Favourites / François-joël Thiollier
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8555798 Release Date: 09/17/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  François-Joël Thiollier
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  • 95.
    Ravel: Bolero; Pavane; La Valse; Daphnis Et Chloe
    Label: Accord   Catalog: 472252 Release Date: 09/02/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Conductor:  Manuel Rosenthal
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  • 96.
    Ravel / Gilbert Varga, Joaquin Achúcarro, Euskadi So
    Label: Claves   Catalog: 2101 Release Date: 07/30/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Joaquín Achúcarro
    Conductor:  Gilbert Varga
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Basque National Orchestra
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  • 97.
    Ravel: Daphnis & Chloe, Etc;  Bizet, Roussel / Cluytens
    Label: Testament   Catalog: 1238 Release Date: 06/11/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Albert Roussel,  Maurice Ravel,  Georges Bizet
    Conductor:  André Cluytens
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestre de la Société du Conservatoire Paris,  French National Radio Orchestra
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  • 98.
    Trio - Ravel: Complete Orchestral Works / Abbado, London So
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 469354 Release Date: 06/11/2002   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Paul Edmund-Davies
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  London Symphony Chorus
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  • 99.
    Great Conductors Of The 20th Century - Ataúlfo Argenta
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 75097 Release Date: 06/04/2002   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Manuel de Falla,  Franz Schubert,  Maurice Ravel,  Franz Liszt
    Performer:  Ana Maria Iriarte
    Conductor:  Ataulfo Argenta
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestre de la Société du Conservatoire Paris,  Cento Solisti Orchestra
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  • 100.
    Michelangeli & Richter - Two Titans Of The Keyboard
    Label: Video Artists International   Catalog: 4213 Release Date: 04/09/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Sergei Prokofiev,  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Sviatoslav Richter,  Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli
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