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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
Faure; Lekeu; Ravel / Tasmin Little, Martin Roscoe
Release Date: 11/18/2014   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 10812   Number of Discs: 1
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Ravel, Debussy / Pierre Boulez [6-CD Set]
Release Date: 05/08/2012   Label: Deutsche Grammophon  
Catalog: 001676802   Number of Discs: 6
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Ravel, Chausson: Piano Trios / Wanderer Trio
Release Date: 03/20/2007   Label: Harmonia Mundi Musique D'abord  
Catalog: 1951967   Number of Discs: 1
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Reflections - Ravel, Decaux, Schonberg / Frederic Chiu
Release Date: 02/14/2012   Label: Harmonia Mundi  
Catalog: 1957166   Number of Discs: 1
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Ravel: Daphnis Et Chloé / Petitgirard, Bordeaux Aquitaine
Release Date: 11/21/2006   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8570075   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Le tombeau de Couperin

Browse 1-25 of 122 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Charles Rosen - The Complete Columbia and Epic Album Collection
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 301476 Release Date: 12/02/2014   Number of Discs: 21
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Béla Bartók,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Georges Bizet  ... 
    Performer:  Charles Rosen,  Paul Jacobs,  Robert Casadesus,  Isaac Stern  ... 
    Conductor:  Frederik Prausnitz
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra
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  • 2.
    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  ... 
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  • 3.
    Moderne
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 2908710 Release Date: 11/11/2014   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Francis Poulenc,  Maurice Ravel,  Erik Satie  ... 
    Performer:  Jean-Guihen Queyras,  Alexandre Tharaud,  Ronald Van Spaendonck,  Eric Le Sage  ... 
    Conductor:  Andrea Quinn
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  • 4.
    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
    CD: $39.99
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  • 5.
    Europakonzert 1997 From Paris / Barenboim, Berlin Philharmonic
    Label: Euroarts   Catalog: 12794 Release Date: 07/29/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Daniel Barenboim
    Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 6.
    Dutch Masters & Their Inspiration / Stolz Quartet
    Label: Challenge   Catalog: 72633 Release Date: 06/10/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Robert Zuidam,  Klaas de Vries,  Sigfús Einarsson  ... 
    Performer:  Jellantsje De Vries,  Marieke Schut,  Liesbeth Steffens,  Doris Hochscheid  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stolz Quartet
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  • 7.
    The Argo Years / Neville Marriner, Academy Of St Martin In The Fields [28-CD Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002081902 Release Date: 06/03/2014   Number of Discs: 28
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel,  Arcangelo Corelli,  Giuseppe Torelli,  Pietro Antonio Locatelli  ... 
    Performer:  Gwynne Howell,  Philip Langridge,  Anna Reynolds,  Elly Ameling  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chorus,  Philip Jones Brass Ensemble
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    CD: $163.49
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  • 8.
    Ravel: Gaspard, Valses Nobles Et Sentimentales, Tombeau De Couperin / Neuburger
    Label: Mirare   Catalog: 232 Release Date: 03/11/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Jean-Frédéric Neuburger
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  • 9.
    French Music for Winds & 20th-Century Wind Quintets
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 2564634845 Release Date: 02/11/2014   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Darius Milhaud,  Claude Paul Taffanel,  György Ligeti,  Samuel Barber  ... 
    Performer:  Paul Meyer,  François Leleux,  Gilbert Audin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Vents Français
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  • 10.
    Bolero - Works By Ravel, Pierne, Escaich, Francaix / Ellipsos Quartet
    Label: Genuin Musikproduction   Catalog: 14543 Release Date: 01/28/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Gabriel Pierné,  Thierry Escaich,  Jean Françaix
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ellipsos Quartet
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  • 11.
    Ravel, Debussy / Thomas Zehetmair, Orchestre De Chambre De Paris
    Label: Naive   Catalog: 5345 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Thomas Zehetmair
    Conductor:  Thomas Zehetmair
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Chamber Orchestra
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  • 12.
    Ravel: Orchestral Works Vol 2 / Slatkin, Lyon
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8572888 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Conductor:  Leonard Slatkin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lyon National Orchestra
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  • 13.
    Ravel: Orchestral Works, Vol. 2
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 34 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Conductor:  Leonard Slatkin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lyon National Orchestra
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  • 14.
    Ravel: Orchestral Works Vol 1 / Deneve, Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra
    Label: Hänssler Classic   Catalog: 93305 Release Date: 10/29/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Conductor:  Stéphane Denève
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  • 15.
    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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  • 16.
    Ravel: Complete Piano Music / Francois Dumont
    Label: Piano Classics   Catalog: 55 Release Date: 08/27/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Francois Dumont
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  • 17.
    Ravel: Piano Music, Piano Concerto / Thibaudet, Grimaud
    Label: Regis   Catalog: 1313396 Release Date: 08/13/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Jean-Yves Thibaudet,  Hélène Grimaud
    Conductor:  Jesús Lopez-Cobos
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 18.
    Ravel / Samson Francois
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 287982 Release Date: 06/18/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Samson François
    Conductor:  André Cluytens
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestre de la Société du Conservatoire Paris
    CD: $17.99
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  • 19.
    Mercury Living Presence - The Collector's Edition Vol 2
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001831802 Release Date: 06/04/2013   Number of Discs: 55
    Composer:  Arnold Schoenberg,  Anton Webern,  Alban Berg,  Ottorino Respighi  ... 
    Performer:  Helga Pilarczyk,  Yehudi Menuhin,  Mihaly Székely,  Olga Szönyi  ... 
    Conductor:  Antal Doráti,  Rafael Kubelik,  Anatole Fistoulari,  Frederick Fennell  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra,  Philharmonia Hungarica  ... 
    CD: $175.49
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  • 20.
    Ravel, Scriabin, Schubert
    Label: Oehms   Catalog: 867 Release Date: 02/26/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alexander Scriabin,  Franz Schubert,  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Alexander Schimpf
    CD: $19.99
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  • 21.
    Ravel: Le Tombeau De Couperin; Schumann: Fantasie C-dur Op. 17; Mussorgsky: Bilder Einer Ausstelkung
    Label: Orfeo   Catalog: 869122 Release Date: 01/29/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Modest Mussorgsky,  Robert Schumann,  Frédéric Chopin  ... 
    Performer:  Alexis Weissenberg
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  • 22.
    Compared, Vol. 1: Erard Vs. Steinway - Ravel
    Label: Channel Classics   Catalog: 31612 Release Date: 10/09/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Paolo Giacometti
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  • 23.
    Ravel Complete Edition [14-CD Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001728702 Release Date: 10/09/2012   Number of Discs: 14
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  François-Joël Thiollier,  Jean-Yves Thibaudet,  Pierre-Laurent Aimard,  Ivo Pogorelich  ... 
    Conductor:  Simon Rattle,  Charles Dutoit,  Ernest Ansermet,  John Eliot Gardiner  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Melos Ensemble London,  Nash Ensemble,  Melos String Quartet Stuttgart  ... 
    CD: $83.49
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  • 24.
    Ravel, Debussy / Pierre Boulez [6-CD Set]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001676802 Release Date: 05/08/2012   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Franklin Cohen,  Anne Sofie von Otter,  Lisa Wellbaum,  Alison Hagley  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra Chorus,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 25.
    Ravel: Complete Piano Works / Alice Ader
    Label: Fuga Libera   Catalog: 592 Release Date: 05/08/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Alice Ader
    CD: $27.49
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