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: 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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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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Ravel: Piano Concertos;  Fauré: Ballade / Louis Lortie
Release Date: 10/28/1992   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 8773   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: Music For Four Hands / Louis Lortie, Hélène Mercier
Release Date: 10/28/1992   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 8905   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Rapsodie espagnole

Browse 101-125 of 166 Available Recordings
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  • 101.
    Paul Paray Conducts French Orchestral Music (5 CD Set)
    Label: Mercury Living Presence   Catalog: 000337602 Release Date: 11/09/2004   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Jules Massenet,  Hector Berlioz,  Georges Bizet,  Camille Saint-Saëns  ... 
    Performer:  Marcel Dupré
    Conductor:  Paul Paray
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Detroit Symphony Orchestra
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  • 102.
    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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  • 103.
    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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  • 104.
    Sorabji: Transcriptions For Piano / Michael Habermann
    Label: Bis   Catalog: 1306 Release Date: 05/27/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Kaikhosru Sorabji,  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Michael Habermann
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  • 105.
    Karajan - The Collection - Ravel, Debussy, Saint-saens
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 000020302 Release Date: 05/13/2003   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Pierre Cochereau,  Karlheinz Zöller
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 106.
    Original Masters - Wilhelm Furtwängler - Live Recordings
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 474030 Release Date: 02/11/2003   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Richard Wagner,  Maurice Ravel,  César Franck,  Paul Hindemith  ... 
    Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 107.
    Genova & Dimitrov - Piano Duo
    Label: Gega New   Catalog: 240 Release Date: 10/29/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Aaron Copland,  George Gershwin,  Maurice Ravel,  Manuel Infante  ... 
    Performer:  Aglika Genova,  Liuben Dimitrov
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  • 108.
    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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  • 109.
    Berlioz, Ravel, Et Al: Orchestral Works /Inghelbrecht, Et Al
    Label: Testament   Catalog: 1265 Release Date: 08/13/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Léo Delibes,  Georges Bizet,  Hector Berlioz
    Conductor:  Désiré-Emile Inghelbrecht
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  French National Radio Orchestra
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  • 110.
    Ravel: Music For Two Pianos / Micallef-inanga Piano Duo
    Label: Somm   Catalog: 25 Release Date: 07/16/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Jennifer Micallef,  Glen Inanga
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  • 111.
    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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  • 112.
    Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique;  Ravel / Walter, Nbc So
    Label: Arbiter   Catalog: 133 Release Date: 05/21/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Hector Berlioz
    Conductor:  Bruno Walter
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
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  • 113.
    Philips 50 - Ravel: Orchestral Favorites / Monteux, London
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 464733 Release Date: 10/30/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Conductor:  Pierre Monteux
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
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  • 114.
    Ravel: Boléro, Etc;  Honegger: Symphony No 2 / Munch, Et Al
    Label: Emi Great Recordings Of The Century   Catalog: 67597 Release Date: 09/11/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Arthur Honegger,  Maurice Ravel
    Conductor:  Charles Munch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestre de Paris
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  • 115.
    Eloquence - Debussy: La Mer, Etc;  Ravel / Ashkenazy, Et Al
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 467428 Release Date: 06/12/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy
    Conductor:  Vladimir Ashkenazy
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
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  • 116.
    The Monet Collection - Romantic Melodies
    Label: Lifestyles   Catalog: 315018 Release Date: 06/05/2001   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
    Performer:  David Odselashvilli
    Conductor:  Vakhtang Kakhidze,  Jansug Kakhidze,  Stanislav Gorkovenko
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tbilisi Festival Choir,  Tbilisi Symphony Orchestra,  Russian Radio/TV Orchestra of St. Petersburg
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  • 117.
    Durufle: Trois Dances, Et Al / Goldina, Loumbrozo
    Label: Phoenix Usa   Catalog: 135 Release Date: 05/23/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Robert Casadesus,  Maurice Duruflé
    Performer:  Arianna Goldina,  Rémy Loumbrozo
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  • 118.
    Eloquence - Ravel: Boléro, Pavane, Etc / Ozawa, Boston So
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 469628 Release Date: 05/08/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Charles Kavalovski
    Conductor:  Seiji Ozawa
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
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  • 119.
    French Romance / Anthony Paratore, Joseph Paratore
    Label: Four Winds   Catalog: 3014 Release Date: 03/06/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Darius Milhaud,  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy,  Francis Poulenc
    Performer:  Joseph Paratore,  Anthony Paratore
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  • 120.
    Viva Espana - Tarrega, Bizet, Albeniz, Et Al / Ozawa, Et Al
    Label: Dg Panorama   Catalog: 469253 Release Date: 01/23/2001   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Isaac Albeniz,  Emmanuel Chabrier,  Manuel de Falla,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Narciso Yepes,  Jean-Marc Luisada,  Dino Ciani,  Sviatoslav Richter
    Conductor:  Seiji Ozawa,  Lorin Maazel,  Ernest Ansermet,  Louis Frémaux  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Suisse Romande Orchestra  ... 
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  • 121.
    New Years Gala 1997 - A Tribute To Carmen / Abbado
    Label: Arthaus Musik   Catalog: 100027 Release Date: 10/03/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Manuel de Falla,  Maurice Ravel,  Pablo de Sarasate  ... 
    Performer:  Gil Shaham,  Mikhail Pletnev,  Bryn Terfel,  Roberto Alagna  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 122.
    Ravel: Bolero, La Valse, Etc / Karajan, Boulez, Et Al
    Label: Dg Panorama   Catalog: 469184 Release Date: 09/26/2000   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Salvatore Accardo,  Martha Argerich
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado,  Seiji Ozawa,  Pierre Boulez,  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Beaux Arts Trio,  London Symphony Orchestra,  Boston Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 123.
    Ravel: Rapsodie Espagnole, Etc / Martinon, Chicago Symphony
    Label: Rca Red Seal Hp   Catalog: 63683 Release Date: 06/06/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Edward Druzinsky,  Donald Peck,  Clark Brody
    Conductor:  Jean Martinon
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
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  • 124.
    The Best of Ravel / Mehta, Monteux, et al
    Label: Eloquence   Catalog: 4666672 Release Date: 05/29/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta,  Pierre Monteux
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra
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  • 125.
    Junge Deutsche Philharmonie - Zender, Debussy, Ravel
    Label: Berlin Classics   Catalog: 2159 Release Date: 02/22/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy,  Hans Zender
    Conductor:  Kiril Kondrashin,  Pierre Boulez,  Hans Zender
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  German Youth Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra
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