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, 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: 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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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: Piano Trio; Debussy: Sonatas / Borodin Trio
Release Date: 10/28/1992   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 8458   Number of Discs: 1
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Ravel, Debussy, Saint-saens / Kanga, Asmf Chamber Ensemble
Release Date: 09/30/1992   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 8621   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Concerto for Piano in G major

Browse 51-75 of 112 Available Recordings
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  • 51.
    Ravel: Daphnis et Chloé, Piano Concerto / Munch, BSO
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 38463 Release Date: 05/22/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Nicole Henriot-Schweitzer
    Conductor:  Charles Munch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  New England Conservatory Chorus
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  • 52.
    The Helene Grimaud Collection
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 4691489 Release Date: 04/06/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Johannes Brahms,  Robert Schumann,  George Gershwin  ... 
    Performer:  Hélène Grimaud
    Conductor:  Vladimir Ashkenazy,  Kurt Sanderling,  David Zinman,  Kurt Masur
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  • 53.
    20th Century Classics - Ravel
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 37671 Release Date: 03/10/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Andrei Gavrilov,  Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli,  Dame Janet Baker
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  • 54.
    Ravel: Tzigane, Piano Concertos / Ricci, Blancard, Ansermet
    Label: Eloquence   Catalog: 4800070 Release Date: 11/29/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Jacqueline Blancard,  Ruggiero Ricci
    Conductor:  Ernest Ansermet
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande Orchestra
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  • 55.
    Leonard Bernstein - Composer, Conductor, Pianist
    Label: Symposium   Catalog: 1372 Release Date: 11/11/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Leonard Bernstein,  Maurice Ravel,  Aaron Copland,  Igor Stravinsky
    Performer:  Leonard Bernstein
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Boston Symphony Orchestra
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  • 56.
    Icon - Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli - The Master Pianist Plays Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn, Etc
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 6005 Release Date: 09/02/2008   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Frédéric Chopin,  Robert Schumann,  Sergei Rachmaninov  ... 
    Performer:  Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli
    Conductor:  Ettore Gracis,  Edmond de Stoutz,  Franco Caracciolo
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Zurich Chamber Orchestra,  Alessandro Scarlatti Orchestra  ... 
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  • 57.
    Michael Studer - The Legacy
    Label: Claves   Catalog: 2713/18 Release Date: 08/12/2008   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Frédéric Chopin  ... 
    Performer:  Michael Studer
    Conductor:  Fritz Rieger,  Wolfgang Sawallisch,  Helmut Müller-Brühl,  Tibor Varga
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lausanne Chamber Orchestra,  Suisse Romande Orchestra,  Cologne Chamber Orchestra  ... 
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  • 58.
    Liszt: Piano Concerto No. 1; Concerto Pathetique; Ravel: Piano Concerto In G
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 786543 Release Date: 07/01/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Liszt,  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Martha Argerich,  Nelson Freire
    Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
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  • 59.
    Ravel, Schulhoff: Piano Concertos / Le Guay, Langrée
    Label: Accord   Catalog: 4768043 Release Date: 04/09/2008  
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Erwin Schulhoff
    Performer:  Claire-Marie Le Guay
    Conductor:  Louis Langrée
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Liège Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 60.
    Ravel: Piano Concertos, Sheherezade / Duchable, Yakar, Jordan
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 85323 Release Date: 04/07/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Pierre Amoyal,  Francois-René Duchable,  Rachel Yakar,  Jean-claude Hermengat
    Conductor:  Armin Jordan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande Orchestra
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  • 61.
    Debussy: Images, Etc;  Ravel / Simon Rattle, Et Al
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 14565 Release Date: 04/01/2008   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Andrei Gavrilov,  Cécile Ousset,  Maria Ewing
    Conductor:  Simon Rattle
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra,  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 62.
    Ravel: Piano Concerto; Rachmaninoff / Michelangeli, Et Al
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 567238 Release Date: 01/13/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli
    Conductor:  Ettore Gracis
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
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  • 63.
    Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No 2;  Ravel / Li, Ozawa, Et Al
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001017502 Release Date: 11/13/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Sergei Prokofiev
    Performer:  Yundi Li
    Conductor:  Seiji Ozawa
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 64.
    Ravel: Piano Concerto In G Major/Faure: Fantasie For Piano & Orchestra]
    Label: Eloquence   Catalog: 4762351 Release Date: 07/26/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Gabriel Fauré,  César Franck
    Performer:  Alicia De Larrocha
    Conductor:  Lawrence Foster,  Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 65.
    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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  • 66.
    Helene Grimaud - Collected Recordings
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 63265 Release Date: 10/17/2006   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Hélène Grimaud
    Conductor:  Vladimir Ashkenazy,  Kurt Masur,  David Zinman,  Kurt Sanderling
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  New York Philharmonic,  Baltimore Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 67.
    Monique Haas - Complete DG Recordings
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 689502 Release Date: 08/08/2006   Number of Discs: 8
    Composer:  Marcel Mihalovici,  Maurice Ravel,  Béla Bartók,  Albert Roussel  ... 
    Performer:  Monique Haas,  Max Rostal,  Heinz Schröter
    Conductor:  Paul Hindemith,  Paul Paray,  Ferenc Fricsay,  Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  French National Orchestra,  Berlin RIAS Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    Recommendation
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  • 68.
    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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  • 69.
    Ravel, Prokofiev: Concertos, Etc / Schlimé, Et Al
    Label: Pentatone   Catalog: 5186080 Release Date: 04/18/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Sergei Prokofiev,  Francesco T. Schlimé
    Performer:  Francesco T. Schlimé
    Conductor:  Mikhail Pletnev
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian National Orchestra
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  • 70.
    Collectors Edition - Debussy: Piano Music;  Ravel / Kocsis
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 000623702 Release Date: 04/11/2006   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Zoltán Kocsis
    Conductor:  Iván Fischer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Budapest Festival Orchestra
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  • 71.
    Bernstein In Paris - The Ravel Concerts
    Label: Kultur Video   Catalog: 1337 Release Date: 01/31/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Boris Belkin,  Marilyn Horne,  Leonard Bernstein
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  National Orchestra of France
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  • 72.
    Leonard Bernstein - The Concert Collection
    Label: Kultur Video   Catalog: 1525 Release Date: 10/25/2005   Number of Discs: 9
    Composer:  Leonard Bernstein,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Dmitri Shostakovich,  Robert Schumann  ... 
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein
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  • 73.
    Aldo Ciccolini In Concert - Saint-saëns, Ravel
    Label: Video Artists International   Catalog: 4352 Release Date: 09/06/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Aldo Ciccolini
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  • 74.
    Ravel: Piano Concerto In G Major, Etc / Haas
    Label: Profil   Catalog: 4042 Release Date: 08/16/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy,  Béla Bartók,  Albert Roussel
    Performer:  Monique Haas
    Conductor:  Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  North German Radio Symphony Orchestra Hamburg
    On sale! $16.99
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  • 75.
    Piano Concertos Of The 1920s / Rische, Poppen
    Label: Arte Nova   Catalog: 910140 Release Date: 04/12/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Antheil,  Maurice Ravel,  Arthur Honegger,  Aaron Copland
    Performer:  Michael Rische
    Conductor:  Christoph Poppen,  Israel Yinon,  Steven Sloane
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bamberg Symphony Orchestra,  Cologne West German Radio Symphony Orchestra
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