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: Dances & Fairy Tales / Joint Venture Percussion Duo
Release Date: 08/12/2016   Label: Bis  
Catalog: BIS-9054   Number of Discs: 1
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Brahms, Ravel & Poulenc: Piano Works / Trpceski
Release Date: 08/05/2016   Label: Wigmore Hall Live  
Catalog: 81   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: La valse

Browse 1-25 of 224 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Ravel: Orchestral Works / Cluytens, Francois, Paris Conservatoire Orchestra
    Label: Urania Records   Catalog: WS121.268 Release Date: 07/29/2016   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Samson François
    Conductor:  André Cluytens
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Conservatoire Orchestra
    CD: $29.99
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  • 2.
    Tutti: Orchestral Arrangements for Piano Four Hands / Shelest Piano Duo
    Label: Sorel Classics   Catalog: 002 Release Date: 05/10/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Bedrich Smetana,  Franz Liszt,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Shelest Piano Duo
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  • 3.
    Ravel: Complete Orchestral Works / Bringuier, Tonhalle-Orchester Zurich
    Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002463002 Release Date: 04/15/2016   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Ray Chen,  Yuja Wang
    Conductor:  Lionel Bringuier
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra
    CD: $44.49
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  • 4.
    New Year's Eve Concert 2015 / Mutter, Rattle, Berliner Philharmoniker
    Label: Euroarts   Catalog: 26147 Release Date: 03/04/2016  
    Composer:  Emmanuel Chabrier,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Jules Massenet,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Anne-Sophie Mutter
    Conductor:  Simon Rattle
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 5.
    New Year's Eve Concert 2015 / Mutter, Rattle, Berliner Philharmoniker [Blu-ray]
    Label: Euroarts   Catalog: 26147 Release Date: 03/04/2016  
    Composer:  Emmanuel Chabrier,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Jules Massenet,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Anne-Sophie Mutter
    Conductor:  Simon Rattle
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 6.
    Decca Sound – Dutoit: The Montreal Years
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002449102 Release Date: 02/19/2016   Number of Discs: 35
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Ernest Chausson,  Manuel de Falla  ... 
    Performer:  Pascal Rogé,  Timothy Hutchins,  Beverly Hoch,  Stanford Olsen  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Symphony Orchestra,  Montreal Symphony Chorus
    CD: $117.99
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  • 7.
    Ravel: Bolero / Cleveland Orchestra, Dohnanyi
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 553998 Release Date: 01/29/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Conductor:  Christoph von Dohnányi
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
    CD: $13.99
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  • 8.
    111: The Collector's Editions [111 CDs]
    Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002422702 Release Date: 12/11/2015   Number of Discs: 111
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Maurice Ravel,  Felix Mendelssohn  ... 
    Performer:  David Oistrakh,  Igor Oistrakh,  Sviatoslav Richter,  Martha Argerich  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado,  Daniel Barenboim,  Lorin Maazel,  Franz Konwitschny  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Amadeus Quartet,  Orchestre de Paris  ... 
    CD: $325.49
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  • 9.
    Pierre Boulez conducts Ravel
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88875108732 Release Date: 11/13/2015   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Philippe Entremont,  Jill Gomez,  Jessye Norman,  José Van Dam  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez,  Eugene Ormandy
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic,  Camerata Singers,  Cleveland Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $22.99
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  • 10.
    Rachmaninov, Haydn, Ravel / Lefevre
    Label: Analekta   Catalog: 29296 Release Date: 10/30/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Alain Lefčvre
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  • 11.
    Complete Piano Works of Ravel / Hinrich Alpers
    Label: Honens   Catalog: 201502 Release Date: 10/09/2015   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Alfredo Casella,  Arthur Honegger,  Kendall Briggs  ... 
    Performer:  Hinrich Alpers
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  • 12.
    The CBSO Years / Rattle
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 552758 Release Date: 10/09/2015   Number of Discs: 52
    Composer:  Leos Janácek,  Benjamin Britten,  Kurt Weill,  Ralph Vaughan Williams  ... 
    Performer:  Felicity Palmer,  Ameral Gunson,  John Mitchinson,  Malcolm King  ... 
    Conductor:  Simon Rattle
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra,  City of Birmingham Symphony Chorus,  Christ Church Cathedral Choir Men and Boys  ... 
    CD: $118.99
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  • 13.
    Four Hands / Leon Fleisher, Katherine Jacobson
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 506416 Release Date: 09/25/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Franz Schubert,  Maurice Ravel,  William Bolcom
    Performer:  Leon Fleisher,  Katherine Jacobson
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  • 14.
    Martha Argerich: The Complete Recordings on Deutsche Grammophon
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002364402 Release Date: 09/25/2015   Number of Discs: 48
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin,  Johannes Brahms,  Sergei Prokofiev,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Martha Argerich,  Guy Touvron,  Gidon Kremer,  Alexandre Gurning  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado,  Charles Dutoit,  Mstislav Rostropovich,  Jörg Faerber  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 15.
    The Complete HMV Recordings / Markevitch
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 552546 Release Date: 09/25/2015   Number of Discs: 18
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Richard Strauss,  Johann Sebastian Bach  ... 
    Performer:  Jacques Neilz,  Denyse Gouarne,  Fernand Dufrene,  Henri Bronschwak  ... 
    Conductor:  Igor Markevitch
    CD: $55.99
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  • 16.
    Jean Martinon - The Complete CSO Recordings
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 88843062752 Release Date: 07/31/2015   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Béla Bartók,  Georges Bizet,  Robert Casadesus,  Paul Hindemith  ... 
    Conductor:  Jean Martinon
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
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  • 17.
    Mariss Jansons Live: The Radio Recordings, 1990-2014 [13-CDs & 1 DVD]
    Label: Rco Live   Catalog: 15002 Release Date: 06/30/2015   Number of Discs: 14
    Composer:  Louis Andriessen,  Hector Berlioz,  Anton Bruckner,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Dmitri Sitkovetsky,  Frank Peter Zimmermann,  Ferruccio Furlanetto,  Leo van Doeselaar  ... 
    Conductor:  Mariss Jansons
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
    CD: $158.99
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  • 18.
    Ravel: Daphnis Et Chloe; La Valse
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 2564616684 Release Date: 05/26/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Conductor:  Philippe Jordan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Opera Orchestra
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  • 19.
    Pierre Boulez - 20th Century
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002250902 Release Date: 02/10/2015   Number of Discs: 44
    Composer:  Béla Bartók,  Alban Berg,  Harrison Birtwistle,  Pierre Boulez  ... 
    Performer:  John Tomlinson,  John Aler,  Krystian Zimerman,  Leif Ove Andsnes  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez,  Martyn Brabbins
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  Chicago Symphony Chorus,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $279.49
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  • 20.
    Stravinsky, Ravel, Gershwin: Transcriptions And Original Piano Works
    Label: Grand Piano   Catalog: 696 Release Date: 02/10/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Igor Stravinsky,  Maurice Ravel,  George Gershwin
    Performer:  Eric Ferrand-N'Kaoua
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  • 21.
    Maurice Ravel, Paul Dukas, Claude Debussy, Emmanuel A. Chabrier
    Label: Tuxedo Music   Catalog: 1006 Release Date: 02/03/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy,  Paul Dukas,  Emmanuel Chabrier
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  • 22.
    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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  • 23.
    Scandale / Ott, Tristano
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002133302 Release Date: 09/09/2014  
    Composer:  Francesco Tristano,  Igor Stravinsky,  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov,  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Alice Sara Ott,  Francesco Tristano
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  • 24.
    Ferenc Fricsay: Complete DG Recordings, Vol 1 - Orchestral Works
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002132602 Release Date: 09/02/2014   Number of Discs: 45
    Composer:  Béla Bartók,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms,  César Franck  ... 
    Performer:  Géza Anda,  Tibor Varga,  Helmut Krebs,  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau  ... 
    Conductor:  Ferenc Fricsay
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin RIAS Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    Recommendation
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  • 25.
    Ravel: Complete Solo Piano Works
    Label: Hänssler Classic   Catalog: 93318 Release Date: 08/12/2014   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Florian Uhlig
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