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: Piano Concertos;  Fauré: Ballade / Louis Lortie
Release Date: 10/28/1992   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 8773   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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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: Concerto for Piano in G major

Browse 76-100 of 112 Available Recordings
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  • 76.
    Ravel, Saint-saëns, Sierra / José Ramos Santana
    Label: Fleur De Son   Catalog: 57961 Release Date: 03/29/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Roberto Sierra,  Camille Saint-Saëns
    Performer:  José Ramos Santana
    Conductor:  Kenneth Klein
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
    CD: $18.99
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  • 77.
    Ravel: Bolero, Piano Concerto, Etc / Litton, Pesek, Et Al
    Label: Virgin Classics   Catalog: 82000 Release Date: 03/29/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Andrew Litton
    Conductor:  Libor Pesek,  Andrew Litton
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $7.99
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  • 78.
    Gershwin: Concerto In F;  Ravel / De Billy, Roge, Rso Wien
    Label: Oehms   Catalog: 601 Release Date: 02/08/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  George Gershwin
    Performer:  Pascal Rogé
    Conductor:  Bertrand De Billy
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra
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  • 79.
    The Great Piano Concertos - Rachmaninov, Chopin, Et Al
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 92293 Release Date: 01/25/2005   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Franz Liszt,  Robert Schumann,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Ludwig van Beethoven  ... 
    Performer:  Nelson Freire,  Klára Würtz,  Emil Gilels,  Evgeni Kissin  ... 
    Conductor:  Michel Plasson,  Arie Van Beek,  Vladimir Sirenko,  Kurt Masur  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra,  Northwest German Philharmonic Orchestra,  Ukrainian National Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $29.99
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  • 80.
    Jascha Horenstein - Broadcast Performances From Paris
    Label: Music & Arts Programs Of America   Catalog: 1146 Release Date: 08/31/2004   Number of Discs: 9
    Composer:  Richard Strauss,  Sergei Prokofiev,  Samuel Barber,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Lola Bobesco,  Marian Anderson,  Pilar Lorengar,  Marga Höffgen  ... 
    Conductor:  Jascha Horenstein
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  ORTF National Orchestra
    CD: $74.49
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  • 81.
    Sierra: Glosas; Ravel: Piano Concerto in G; Saint-Saens: Piano Concerto no 2 / Santana
    Label: Fleur De Son   Catalog: FDS57961 Release Date: 06/01/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Roberto Sierra,  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  José Ramos Santana
    Conductor:  Kenneth Klein
    CD: $18.99
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  • 82.
    Label: Supraphon   Catalog: 3714 Release Date: 02/24/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  César Franck,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Ivan Moravec
    Conductor:  Jiri Belohlávek
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  • 83.
    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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  • 84.
    Ravel / Gilbert Varga, Joaquin Achúcarro, Euskadi So
    Label: Claves   Catalog: 2101 Release Date: 07/30/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Joaquín Achúcarro
    Conductor:  Gilbert Varga
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Basque National Orchestra
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  • 85.
    Ravel: Piano Concertos;  Debussy / Jordan, Queffelec
    Label: Apex   Catalog: 389232 Release Date: 05/14/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Anne Queffélec
    Conductor:  Alain Lombard,  Armin Jordan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra,  Monte Carlo Opera Orchestra
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  • 86.
    Orchestra Pro Series - English Horn / Julie Ann Giacobasso
    Label: Summit Records   Catalog: 307 Release Date: 01/08/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Richard Wagner,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Igor Stravinsky  ... 
    Performer:  Doug Rioth,  Julie Ann Giacobassi
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  • 87.
    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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  • 88.
    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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  • 89.
    Ravel: Piano Concerto;  Rachmaninoff / Michelangeli, Et Al
    Label: Emi Great Recordings Of The Century   Catalog: 67258 Release Date: 03/14/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli
    Conductor:  Ettore Gracis
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
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  • 90.
    Bernstein Conducts Stravinsky And Ravel
    Label: Pearl   Catalog: 66 Release Date: 11/16/1999   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Igor Stravinsky
    Performer:  Leonard Bernstein
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia London,  Boston Symphony Orchestra members
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  • 91.
    Ravel: Piano Concertos; (Le) Tombeau De Couperin; (La) Valse
    Label: Accord   Catalog: 465382 Release Date: 10/11/1999  
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Roger Muraro
    Conductor:  Hubert Soudant
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Basel Symphony Orchestra
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  • 92.
    Ravel: The Two Piano Concertos, Le Tombeau De Couperin, Etc
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 54158 Release Date: 07/08/1999   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Cécile Ousset
    Conductor:  Simon Rattle
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
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  • 93.
    Ravel: Piano Concertos, Etc / Zimerman, Boulez, Et Al
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 449213 Release Date: 02/09/1999   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Krystian Zimerman
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra
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  • 94.
    Ravel: Piano Concertos, Gaspard de la Nuit / Francois
    Label: Emi Great Recordings Of The Century   Catalog: 66957 Release Date: 01/12/1999   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Samson François
    Conductor:  André Cluytens
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestre de la Société du Conservatoire Paris
    CD: $11.99
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  • 95.
    Gershwin, Ravel: Piano Concertos / Grimaud, Zinman
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 19571 Release Date: 11/25/1997   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  George Gershwin
    Performer:  Hélène Grimaud
    Conductor:  David Zinman
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
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  • 96.
    Ravel: Piano Concertos;  Honegger, Françaix / Thibaudet
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 452448 Release Date: 08/12/1997   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Jean Françaix,  Arthur Honegger
    Performer:  Jean-Yves Thibaudet
    Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $15.99
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  • 97.
    Martha Argerich Collection Vol 1
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 453567 Release Date: 04/22/1997   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Sergei Prokofiev,  Robert Schumann,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky  ... 
    Performer:  Martha Argerich,  Mstislav Rostropovich
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado,  Charles Dutoit,  Mstislav Rostropovich,  Giuseppe Sinopoli
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Washington National Symphony Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 98.
    Prokofiev, Ravel: Piano Concertos, Etc / Argerich, Abbado
    Label: Dg The Originals   Catalog: 447438 Release Date: 05/14/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Sergei Prokofiev
    Performer:  Martha Argerich
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 99.
    Ravel: The Two Piano Concertos, Etc / Yukie Nagai, Hirokami
    Label: Bis   Catalog: 666 Release Date: 05/30/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Inzuki "Yukie" Nagai
    Conductor:  Jun'ichi Hirokami
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Malmö Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $21.49
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  • 100.
    Ravel: The Piano Concertos / Paik, Bertini, Stuttgart Rso
    Label: Orfeo   Catalog: 13821 Release Date: 04/04/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Kun-Woo Paik
    Conductor:  Gary Bertini
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $22.49
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