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

Mussorgsky: Pictures At An Exhibition; Ravel: Daphnis Et Chloe, La Valse / Casadesus
Release Date: 05/10/2011   Label: Royal Philharmonic Masterworks  
Catalog: 28180   Number of Discs: 1
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Strauss, Ravel, Dukas / Argerich, Rabinovitch
Release Date: 02/27/1998   Label: Teldec  
Catalog: 96435   Number of Discs: 1
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Gershwin, Ravel, Debussy / O'Riley, Wordsworth, Royal PO
Release Date: 08/11/2009   Label: Royal Philharmonic Masterworks  
Catalog: 28050   Number of Discs: 1
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Ravel: Daphnis et Chloe, Bolero, Pavane / Gergiev, London SO
Release Date: 11/09/2010   Label: Lso Live  
Catalog: 693   Number of Discs: 1
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Ravel: L'enfant Et Sortileges, L'heure Espagnole / Rattle, Edwards
Release Date: 06/30/2009   Label: Kultur Video  
Catalog: 4461   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Daphnis et Chloé Suite no 2

Browse 1-25 of 116 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Carlo Maria Giulini: The London Years
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 93739 Release Date: 12/03/2013   Number of Discs: 17
    Composer:  Antonín Dvorák,  Modest Mussorgsky,  Benjamin Britten,  César Franck  ... 
    Performer:  Sheila Armstrong,  Anna Reynolds,  Robert Tear,  John Shirley-Quirk
    Conductor:  Carlo Maria Giulini
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra,  New Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
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    CD: $64.49
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  • 2.
    All Star Orchestra: Programs 1 & 2 - Stravinsky, Ravel, Beethoven / Gerard Schwarz
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 2110348 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Igor Stravinsky,  Maurice Ravel,  Bright Sheng,  Ludwig van Beethoven  ... 
    Conductor:  Gerard Schwarz
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  All Star Orchestra
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  • 3.
    Ernest Ansermet - French Music
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 4807898 Release Date: 11/12/2013   Number of Discs: 32
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Hector Berlioz  ... 
    Performer:  Robert Gugolz,  Marie-Luise de Montmollin,  Nancy Waugh,  Suzanne Danco  ... 
    Conductor:  Ernest Ansermet
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande Orchestra,  Union Chorale de la Tour-de-Peilz,  Geneva Motet Choir  ... 
    Recommendation
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  • 4.
    Ravel: Bolero
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001875302 Release Date: 09/03/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Myron Bloom,  Michel Debost
    Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
    CD: $11.99
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  • 5.
    Ravel: Bolero - Orchestral Masterpieces
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 2564651447 Release Date: 08/27/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Francois-René Duchable,  Pierre Amoyal,  Rachel Yakar,  Jean-Claude Hermengat  ... 
    Conductor:  Armin Jordan
    CD: $24.99
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  • 6.
    Label: Urania   Catalog: 22392 Release Date: 07/16/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Paul Hindemith,  Igor Stravinsky,  Paul Dukas,  Maurice Ravel
    Conductor:  Guido Cantelli
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  • 7.
    Libor Pesek: The Gold Collection
    Label: Supraphon   Catalog: 4132 Release Date: 05/28/2013   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy,  Josef Suk,  Anton Bruckner  ... 
    Performer:  Michaela Fukacova,  Garrick Ohlsson,  Petr Skvor,  Eva Depoltová
    Conductor:  Libor Pesek
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Czech Philharmonic Orchestra,  Kühn Mixed Chorus,  Brno State Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 8.
    Lionel Bringuier & Nelson Freire - Live At The Royal Albert Hall
    Label: Bel Air Classiques   Catalog: 79 Release Date: 04/30/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz,  Maurice Ravel,  Albert Roussel,  Frédéric Chopin  ... 
    Performer:  Nelson Freire
    Conductor:  Lionel Bringuier
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
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  • 9.
    Lionel Bringuier & Nelson Freire - Live At The Royal Albert Hall [blu-ray]
    Label: Bel Air Classiques   Catalog: 479 Release Date: 04/30/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz,  Maurice Ravel,  Albert Roussel,  Frédéric Chopin  ... 
    Performer:  Nelson Freire
    Conductor:  Lionel Bringuier
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
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  • 10.
    Anthology Of The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Vol 7: 2000-2010
    Label: Rco Live   Catalog: 12004 Release Date: 02/12/2013   Number of Discs: 14
    Composer:  Leos Janácek,  Richard Strauss,  Alphons Diepenbrock,  Igor Stravinsky  ... 
    Performer:  Vesko Eschkenazy,  Godfried Hoogeveen,  Lars Vogt,  Jorgen Van Rijen  ... 
    Conductor:  Mark Elder,  Lorin Maazel,  Claus Peter Flor,  Riccardo Chailly  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
    On sale! $246.98
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  • 11.
    French Flavours / Paul Carr
    Label: Regent   Catalog: 384 Release Date: 12/11/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Naji Hakim,  Gerald Hendrie,  Marcel Dupré,  Henry Purcell  ... 
    Performer:  Paul Carr
    On sale! $19.98
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  • 12.
    Khachaturian: Spartacus & Gayane Suites; Ravel: Daphnis Et Chloe 2 / Temirkanov
    Label: Signum U.k.   Catalog: 310 Release Date: 11/27/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Aram Khachaturian,  Maurice Ravel
    Conductor:  Yuri Temirkanov
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 13.
    Gary Bertini Conducts Strauss, Mahler, Ravel, Debussy, Berlioz
    Label: Capriccio Records   Catalog: 7136 Release Date: 11/13/2012   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz,  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy,  Gustav Mahler  ... 
    Performer:  Martha Argerich,  Håkan Hagegård,  Thomas Quasthoff,  Elisabeth Leonskaja
    Conductor:  Gary Bertini
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra
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  • 14.
    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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  • 15.
    Debussy: Nocturnes; Ravel: Daphnis Et Chloe Suite No. 2; Pavane; Scriabin / Abbado
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001739102 Release Date: 10/09/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Alexander Scriabin,  Maurice Ravel
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
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  • 16.
    Arturo Toscanini - The Complete RCA Collection [84 CDs + DVD]
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 791631 Release Date: 07/10/2012   Number of Discs: 85
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Franz Joseph Haydn  ... 
    Performer:  Eileen Farrell,  Nan Merriman,  Jan Peerce,  Norman Scott  ... 
    Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra,  Robert Shaw Chorale,  NBC Symphony Chorus  ... 
    On sale! $149.98
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  • 17.
    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  ... 
    Recommendation
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    $67.49
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  • 18.
    Icon - Guido Cantelli: Fiery Angel Of The Podium
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog:  6790432 Release Date: 03/13/2012   Number of Discs: 9
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Franz Schubert,  César Franck  ... 
    Performer:  Dennis Brain
    Conductor:  Guido Cantelli
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  NBC Symphony Orchestra,  Santa Cecilia Academy Rome Orchestra  ... 
    Recommendation
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  • 19.
    Eugen Jochum: Rare Recordings / Bavarian Radio Orchestra
    Label: Tahra   Catalog: 720 Release Date: 12/13/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Richard Strauss,  Johann Strauss Jr.,  George Frideric Handel  ... 
    Performer:  Annelies Kupper,  Edwin Fischer
    Conductor:  Eugen Jochum
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $19.99
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  • 20.
    Beethoven: Symphony No 4; Elgar, Ravel / Monteux, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra
    Label: Helicon   Catalog: 29641 Release Date: 09/13/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir Edward Elgar,  Maurice Ravel,  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Conductor:  Pierre Monteux
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Israel Philharmonic Orchestra
    On sale! $21.98
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  • 21.
    Ravel Meets Gershwin / Rattle, Reeves, Berlin Philharmonic
    Label: Euroarts   Catalog: 2053648 Release Date: 08/30/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Gershwin,  Gabriel Fauré,  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Reuben Rogers,  Dianne Reeves,  Peter Martin,  Greg Hutchinson
    Conductor:  Simon Rattle
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 22.
    Label: Melodiya   Catalog: 1001102 Release Date: 08/09/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Carl Maria von Weber,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Maurice Ravel
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  • 23.
    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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  • 24.
    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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  • 25.
    Mussorgsky: Pictures At An Exhibition; Ravel: Daphnis Et Chloe, La Valse / Casadesus
    Label: Royal Philharmonic Masterworks   Catalog: 28180 Release Date: 05/10/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Modest Mussorgsky,  Maurice Ravel
    Conductor:  Jean-Claude Casadesus
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
    On sale! $9.98
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