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: La valse

Browse 176-200 of 252 Available Recordings
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  • 176.
    Joint Concert In Tel Aviv / Mehta, Hagner, Kam, Berlin & Israel Philharmonic
    Label: Arthaus Musik   Catalog: 100069 Release Date: 08/19/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Paul Ben-Haim,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Maurice Ravel,  Ludwig van Beethoven  ... 
    Performer:  Viviane Hagner,  Sharon Kam
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Israel Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 177.
    Libetta In Lecce
    Label: Vai Audio   Catalog: 1209 Release Date: 07/29/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin,  Léo Delibes,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Francesco Libetta
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  • 178.
    Ravel, Bizet, Debussy: Piano Duets /Moore, Crawford-phillips
    Label: Deux-elles   Catalog: 1040 Release Date: 03/25/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Georges Bizet,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Simon Crawford-Phillips,  Philip Moore
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  • 179.
    Great Conductors Of The 20th Century - Albert Coates
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 75486 Release Date: 02/11/2003   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Carl Maria von Weber,  Richard Wagner,  Richard Strauss,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Frida Leider,  Lauritz Melchior
    Conductor:  Albert Coates
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
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  • 180.
    Chicago Symphony Orchestra - Historic Telecasts / Monteux, Munch
    Label: Video Artists International   Catalog: 4226 Release Date: 01/28/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jean-Philippe Rameau,  Maurice Ravel,  Hector Berlioz,  Richard Wagner  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Munch,  Pierre Monteux
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
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  • 181.
    Francesco Libetta In Lecce (2002)
    Label: Video Artists International   Catalog: 4225 Release Date: 01/28/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Claude Debussy,  Johannes Brahms,  Frédéric Chopin  ... 
    Performer:  Francesco G. Libetta,  Francesco Libetta
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  • 182.
    Ravel: Piano Concertos, Pavane, Jeux D'eau, La Valse / Collard, Beroff, Maazel
    Label: Emi Classics Encore   Catalog: 74749 Release Date: 01/07/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Jean-Philippe Collard,  Michel Béroff
    Conductor:  Lorin Maazel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestre de France
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  • 183.
    Exotic Lyricism - Ravel: Miroirs, Etc / Eric Himy
    Label: Ivory Classics   Catalog: 72009 Release Date: 10/22/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Eric Himy
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  • 184.
    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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  • 185.
    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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  • 186.
    Flash-back Music Collection - Pierre Monteux
    Label: Cascavelle   Catalog: 3037 Release Date: 07/02/2002   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Emmanuel Chabrier,  Olivier Messiaen,  Jacques Ibert,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Monteux
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Symphony Orchestra,  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
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  • 187.
    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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  • 188.
    Great Conductors Of The 20th Century - André Cluytens
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 75106 Release Date: 06/04/2002   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Modest Mussorgsky,  Richard Wagner,  Hector Berlioz,  Robert Schumann  ... 
    Performer:  Boris Christoff,  John Lanigan
    Conductor:  André Cluytens
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestre de la Société du Conservatoire Paris,  Sofia National Opera Chorus,  National Theater Opera Orchestra of Paris  ... 
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  • 189.
    Great Conductors Of The 20th Century - Ernest Ansermet
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 75094 Release Date: 06/04/2002   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Emmanuel Chabrier,  Maurice Ravel,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Béla Bartók  ... 
    Conductor:  Ernest Ansermet
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande Orchestra,  Orchestre de la Société du Conservatoire Paris
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  • 190.
    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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  • 191.
    Evening With The Royal Ballet / Fonteyn, Nureyev
    Label: Kultur Video   Catalog: 1182 Release Date: 07/31/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Frédéric Chopin,  Adolphe Adam
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  • 192.
    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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  • 193.
    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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  • 194.
    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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  • 195.
    Presenting Francesco Libetta
    Label: Vai Audio   Catalog: 1196 Release Date: 03/13/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Anonymous,  Vincenzo Galilei,  Federico Mompou,  Camille Saint-Saëns  ... 
    Performer:  Francesco Libetta
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  • 196.
    Ravel: Scheherazade, Ma Mere L'oye, La Valse, Etc / Rattle
    Label: Emi Classics Special Import   Catalog: 54204 Release Date: 01/09/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Maria Ewing
    Conductor:  Simon Rattle
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
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  • 197.
    Ravel: Boléro, La Valse, Etc / Casadesus, Pludermacher
    Label: Harmonia Mundi Musique D'abord   Catalog: 1951434 Release Date: 11/14/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Georges Pludermacher
    Conductor:  Jean-Claude Casadesus
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lille National Orchestra
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  • 198.
    French Favourites - Ravel, Milhaud, Debussy / Järvi, Detroit
    Label: Chandos Collect   Catalog: 6615 Release Date: 09/26/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Darius Milhaud,  Maurice Ravel
    Conductor:  Neeme Järvi
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Detroit Symphony Orchestra
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  • 199.
    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:  Martha Argerich,  Salvatore Accardo
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan,  Pierre Boulez,  Claudio Abbado,  Seiji Ozawa
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra,  Boston Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 200.
    Invitation To The Dance / Lara Downes
    Label: Postcards   Catalog: 7720012 Release Date: 06/27/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Carl Maria von Weber,  Samuel Barber,  Frédéric Chopin,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Lara Downes
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