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

Ravel, Debussy & Massenet / Bavouzet, Tortelier, BBC Symphony Orchestra
Release Date: 11/16/2010   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 5084   Number of Discs: 1
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Bolero - Works By Ravel, Pierne, Escaich, Francaix / Ellipsos Quartet
Release Date: 01/28/2014   Label: Genuin Musikproduction  
Catalog: 14543   Number of Discs: 1
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Ravel: Orchestral Works; Saint-Saens: Organ Symphony / Morlot, Seattle Symphony
Release Date: 04/29/2014   Label: Seattle Symphony Orchestra  
Catalog: 1002   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: Piano Trio; Debussy: Sonatas / Borodin Trio
Release Date: 10/28/1992   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 8458   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Boléro

Browse 26-50 of 265 Available Recordings
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  • 26.
    Label: Reflections   Catalog: 56806 Release Date: 01/01/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Pachelbel,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky  ... 
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  • 27.
    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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  • 28.
    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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  • 29.
    Traveling Sonata: European Music For Flute & Guitar
    Label: Reference Recordings   Catalog: 128 Release Date: 11/13/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gabriel Fauré,  Maurice Ravel,  François Borne,  Erik Satie  ... 
    Performer:  Viviana Guzman,  Jérémy Jouve
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  • 30.
    Eugene Ormandy Conducts 20th Century Classics
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 5417202 Release Date: 11/06/2012   Number of Discs: 12
    Composer:  Gustav Holst,  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel,  Modest Mussorgsky  ... 
    Performer:  John Williams,  Vladimir Ashkenazy,  Van Cliburn,  Isaac Stern  ... 
    Conductor:  Eugene Ormandy
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra,  Mendelssohn Club Chorus Philadelphia,  Rutgers University Chorus
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  • 31.
    The Romantic Piano: A View From Sienna
    Label: Dal Segno   Catalog: 40 Release Date: 10/30/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms,  Frédéric Chopin,  Claude Debussy  ... 
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  • 32.
    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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  • 33.
    Ravel: Bolero; La Valse; Sheherazade / Deshayes, Krivine, Luxembourg Philharmonic
    Label: Zig Zag   Catalog: 311 Release Date: 10/09/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Karine Deshayes
    Conductor:  Emanuel Krivine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 34.
    Ravel: Bolero; Rapsodie Espagnole
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001702602 Release Date: 07/24/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Conductor:  Seiji Ozawa
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  • 35.
    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
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  • 36.
    The Art Of Giuseppe Sinopoli - Orchestral Works
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 1986056 Release Date: 05/29/2012   Number of Discs: 16
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Sir Edward Elgar,  Modest Mussorgsky  ... 
    Performer:  Alan Titus,  Thomas Moser,  Felicity Palmer,  Solveig Kringelborn  ... 
    Conductor:  Giuseppe Sinopoli
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dresden State Opera Chorus,  Dresden Staatskapelle,  Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
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  • 37.
    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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  • 38.
    Ravel: Daphnis Et Chloe; Bolero
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 02315 Release Date: 04/24/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Kevin Gowland
    Conductor:  Simon Rattle
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  • 39.
    Ravel: Bolero / Karajan, Berlin Philharmonic
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 6027605 Release Date: 03/13/2012  
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 40.
    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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  • 41.
    Label: Archipel   Catalog: ARPCD0530 Release Date: 01/01/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Sergei Prokofiev
    Performer:  Arthur Grumiaux
    Conductor:  Rudolf Kempe
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  • 42.
    The Decca Sound [50-CD Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001619902 Release Date: 11/15/2011   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Manuel de Falla,  Claude Debussy,  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov,  Enrique Granados  ... 
    Performer:  Teresa Berganza,  Alfredo Campoli,  Vladimir Ashkenazy,  Cecilia Bartoli  ... 
    Conductor:  Ernest Ansermet,  Ataulfo Argenta,  Anatole Fistoulari,  Vladimir Ashkenazy  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $175.49
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  • 43.
    Icon: William Steinberg
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 26486 Release Date: 10/11/2011   Number of Discs: 20
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Nathan Milstein,  Rudolf Firkusny
    Conductor:  William Steinberg
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra
    CD: $63.99
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  • 44.
    Ravel: Daphnis Et Chloe Suite No. 2; Rapsodie Espagnole; Bolero; Une Barque Sur L'ocean
    Label: Emi 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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  • 45.
    Best Of Herbert Von Karajan
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 82158 Release Date: 07/26/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel,  Bedrich Smetana,  Carl Maria von Weber,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
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  • 46.
    Pasion
    Label: Ligia   Catalog: 104225 Release Date: 07/12/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Isaac Albeniz,  Manuel de Falla,  Astor Piazzolla  ... 
    Performer:  Olivier Vernet,  Cedrick Meckler
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  • 47.
    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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  • 48.
    Ravel: Bolero; La Valse; Rhapsodie Espagnole; Menuet Antique; Ma Mere L'oye / Boulez
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 68968 Release Date: 04/05/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic,  Cleveland Orchestra
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  • 49.
    Debussy: La Mer; Prelude A L'apres-midi D'un Faune; Ravel: La Valse; Bolero
    Label: Apex   Catalog: 4677174 Release Date: 03/29/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Jeanne Baxtresser,  Kenneth Radnofsky
    Conductor:  Kurt Masur
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  • 50.
    Ravel: Bolero, La Valse, Rapsodie Espagnole / Maazel, Orchestre National De France
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 7710922 Release Date: 03/29/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Conductor:  Lorin Maazel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  ORTF National Orchestra
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