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: Rapsodie espagnole

Browse 76-100 of 164 Available Recordings
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  • 76.
    Ravel: Bolero, Alborada Del Gracioso, Etc / Mata, Dallas So
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 14438 Release Date: 06/25/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Conductor:  Eduardo Mata
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dallas Symphony Orchestra
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  • 77.
    Ravel: Valley Of The Bells, Etc / Simon, Et Al
    Label: Cala Records   Catalog: 4026 Release Date: 05/29/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Gwendolyn Mok,  Sally Burgess
    Conductor:  Geoffrey Simon
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
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  • 78.
    Ravel / Katia Labeque, Marielle Labeque
    Label: Kml Recordings   Catalog: 1111 Release Date: 05/08/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Marielle Labèque,  Katia Labèque
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  • 79.
    Klemperer, Ravel, Brahms, Etc / Stokowski
    Label: Bbc Legends   Catalog: 4205 Release Date: 04/24/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Maurice Ravel,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Otto Klemperer  ... 
    Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  New Philharmonia Orchestra
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  • 80.
    Ravel: Boléro, Etc / Skrowaczewski, Minnesota Orchestra
    Label: Regis   Catalog: 1206 Release Date: 04/24/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Conductor:  Stanislaw Skrowaczewski
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Minnesota Orchestra
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  • 81.
    A Celebration of Duo-Piano Music / Forte, Parkinson
    Label: Roméo Records   Catalog: 7252 Release Date: 07/25/2006   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Francis Poulenc,  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Madeleine Forte,  Del Parkinson
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  • 82.
    Ravel: Orchestral Works, Concertos, Etc / Roge, Dutoit
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 000639702 Release Date: 07/04/2006   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Timothy Hutchins,  John Zirbel,  Pascal Rogé,  Marie-Francoise Lefort  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Symphony Chorus,  Montreal Symphony Orchestra
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  • 83.
    Classical Lounge
    Label: Denon Records   Catalog: 17609 Release Date: 06/27/2006   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Susanna Mildonian,  Maxence Larrieu,  John Holloway,  Hans Otto  ... 
    Conductor:  Andrew Parrott,  Emmanuel Krivine,  Sir Charles Groves,  Vassil Kazandjiev  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Players,  Bamberg Symphony Orchestra,  Prague Chamber Orchestra  ... 
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  • 84.
    Four Hand Reflections - Mozart, Etc / Aebersold, Neiweem
    Label: Summit Records   Catalog: 456 Release Date: 06/13/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Patrick Byers,  Ottorino Respighi,  Franz Liszt,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Claire Aebersold,  Ralph Neiweem
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  • 85.
    Ravel: Daphnis Et Chloe, Rapsodie Espagnole / Barenboim, Chicago So
    Label: Elatus   Catalog: 47327 Release Date: 05/18/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
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  • 86.
    Ravel: Daphnis Et Chloé / Pierre Monteux, London Symphony
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 000624802 Release Date: 04/11/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Conductor:  Pierre Monteux
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Chorus,  London Symphony Orchestra
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  • 87.
    Orchestre Colonne - Hundred Thirty Years Dedicated To Music
    Label: Cascavelle   Catalog: 3066 Release Date: 03/28/2006   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Carl Maria von Weber,  Edouard Lalo,  Gabriel Fauré,  André Messager  ... 
    Performer:  Jeanne-Marie Darré,  Marcel Darrieux,  Louis Cahuzac,  M.H. Lopes  ... 
    Conductor:  Édouard Colonne,  Jean Fournet,  Paul Paray,  Gabriel Pierné  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Colonne Concerts Orchestra
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  • 88.
    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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  • 89.
    Ravel: Le Tombeau De Couperin: Ma Mere Loye: Rapsodie Espagnole / Ozawa, Boston Symphony Orchestra
    Label: Eloquence   Catalog: 4768501 Release Date: 02/20/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Ralph Gomberg
    Conductor:  Seiji Ozawa
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
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  • 90.
    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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  • 91.
    Ravel: Orchestral Works / Gelinas, Leaper, Et Al
    Label: Arte Nova   Catalog: 433170 Release Date: 09/13/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Conductor:  Adrian Leaper
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Grand Canary Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 92.
    Saint-Saens: Carnival of the Animals; Poulenc, Ravel / Guher & Suher Pekinel
    Label: Apex   Catalog: 4621252 Release Date: 08/08/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Francis Poulenc,  Manuel Infante,  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Süher Pekinel,  Güher Pekinel
    Conductor:  Marek Janowski
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  ORTF Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 93.
    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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  • 94.
    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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  • 95.
    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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  • 96.
    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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  • 97.
    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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  • 98.
    Ravel: Bolero, Etc; Debussy: Images / Munch, Boston Symphony
    Label: Rca Victor Living Stereo   Catalog: 66374 Release Date: 01/25/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy
    Conductor:  Charles Munch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
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  • 99.
    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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  • 100.
    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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