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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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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Strauss, Ravel, Dukas / Argerich, Rabinovitch
Release Date: 02/27/1998   Label: Teldec  
Catalog: 96435   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: Ma Mere L'oye; Mussorgsky: Pictures At An Exhibition
Release Date: 03/25/2014   Label: Zig Zag  
Catalog: 343   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Introduction and Allegro for Harp, Flute, Clarinet and Strings

Browse 1-25 of 55 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Decca Sound - The Analogue Years
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001934702 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 54
    Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Anton Bruckner,  Arnold Schoenberg,  Giuseppe Verdi  ... 
    Performer:  Pascal Rogé,  Dame Joan Sutherland,  Marilyn Horne,  Luciano Pavarotti  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Dutoit,  Sir Georg Solti,  Bernard Haitink,  Horst Stein  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Chicago Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 2.
    Ravel: Intimate Masterpieces
    Label: Oberlin Music   Catalog: 4 Release Date: 10/29/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Alexa Still,  Richard Hawkins,  Yolanda Kondonassis,  Spencer Myer  ... 
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  • 3.
    Jean-pierre Rampal Plays Schubert, Schumann, Debussy & Ravel
    Label: Idi   Catalog: 6671 Release Date: 09/24/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Robert Schumann,  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Robert Veyron-Lacroix,  Jean-Pierre Rampal,  Odette Le Dentu,  Pierre Pasquier  ... 
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  • 4.
    French Masterworks For Harp / Ursula Holliger
    Label: Claves   Catalog: 280 Release Date: 11/13/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  André Caplet,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Ursula Holliger,  Hans-Rudolf Stalder,  Peter-Lukas Graf,  Serge Collot
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Die Kammermusiker Zürich
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  • 5.
    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  ... 
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  • 6.
    France - A Musical Tour Of The South Of France
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 2110545 Release Date: 01/31/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Erik Satie,  Claude Debussy
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  • 7.
    L'Heure Espagnole - Music for 2 Harps & Voice / Duo Bilitis
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 9210 Release Date: 08/30/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Manuel de Falla,  Enrique Granados,  Xavier Montsalvatge
    Performer:  Ekaterina Levental
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Duo Bilitis
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  • 8.
    Essential Harp
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 94907 Release Date: 07/12/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Francesco Petrini,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Marielle Nordmann,  Julia Thornton,  Markus Klinko,  Ann Griffiths  ... 
    Conductor:  Jean-Jacques Kantorow,  Erno Olah,  Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos,  Theodor Guschelbauer  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris National Opera Orchestra,  Ensemble Instrumental Sinfonia
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  • 9.
    Live From Marlboro - Debussy, Ravel: String Quartets
    Label: Marlboro Recording Society   Catalog: 80003 Release Date: 07/05/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Judy Kang,  Joseph Lin,  Richard O’Neill,  David Soyer  ... 
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  • 10.
    Icon - Melos Ensemble
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 18414 Release Date: 03/22/2011   Number of Discs: 11
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Franz Schubert,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Felix Mendelssohn  ... 
    Performer:  Gervase de Peyer,  Lamar Crowson,  Cecil Aronowitz,  Manoug Parikian  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Melos Ensemble London Members,  Melos Ensemble London
    On sale! $87.98
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  • 11.
    Ravel: Complete Works For Piano Duet / Thorson, Thurber
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 94176 Release Date: 03/22/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Ingryd Thorson,  Julien Thurber
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  • 12.
    Ravel: Music For Two Pianos / Stephen Coombs And Christopher Scott
    Label: Regis   Catalog: 1356 Release Date: 02/22/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Stephen Coombs,  Christopher Scott,  Yuki Matsuzawa
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  • 13.
    Maurice Ravel
    Label: Membran International Gmbh   Catalog: 913443 Release Date: 07/06/2010   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Walter Gieseking,  Marguerite Long,  Robert Casadesus,  Marcel Moyse  ... 
    Conductor:  Maurice Ravel,  Désiré-Emile Inghelbrecht,  Wilhelm Furtwängler,  Igor Markevitch  ... 
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  • 14.
    20th Century French Chamber Music / Melos Ensemble
    Label: Eloquence   Catalog: 4802153 Release Date: 04/20/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Joseph Guy Ropartz,  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy,  Albert Roussel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Melos Ensemble London
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  • 15.
    Harpe Passion
    Label: Emi Classics Special Import   Catalog: 74321 Release Date: 03/11/2010   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  André Caplet,  Gabriel Fauré,  Gabriel Pierné,  Philippe Gaubert  ... 
    Performer:  Martine Geliot,  Annie Challan,  Nancy Allen,  Frédéric Laroque  ... 
    Conductor:  André Cluytens,  Enrique Bátiz,  Jean-Jacques Kantorow,  Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestre de la Société du Conservatoire Paris,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  National Theater Opera Orchestra of Paris members  ... 
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  • 16.
    Impressions - Debussy, Ravel / Tokyo String Quartet
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 62552 Release Date: 05/08/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Sadao Harada,  Kazuhide Isomura,  Peter Oundjian,  Kikuei Ikeda  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tokyo String Quartet
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  • 17.
    Ravel: Introduction And Allegro, Violin Sonata, Piano Trio
    Label: Crd Records   Catalog: 3446 Release Date: 05/01/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Ian Brown,  Marcia Crayford,  Christopher Van Kampen,  Michael Collins  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Nash Ensemble
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  • 18.
    Martha Argerich And Friends - Live From The Lugano Festival 2008
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 67051 Release Date: 04/07/2009   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Astor Piazzolla,  Antonín Dvorák,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Robert Schumann  ... 
    Performer:  Martha Argerich,  Eduardo Hubert,  Karin Lechner,  Lily Maisky  ... 
    Conductor:  Mikhail Pletnev
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana
    Recommendation
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  • 19.
    French Chamber Music / Ensemble Wien-Berlin
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 62666 Release Date: 09/02/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jean Françaix,  André Jolivet,  Claude Debussy,  Jacques Ibert  ... 
    Performer:  Wolfram Christ,  Georg Faust,  Rainer Kussmaul,  Wolfgang Schulz  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Wien-Berlin
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  • 20.
    Introduction And Allegro / Hickox, City Of London Sinfonia
    Label: Virgin Classics   Catalog: 59695 Release Date: 03/26/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Gabriel Fauré,  Jacques Ibert,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  David Campbell,  Carol Wincenc,  Vanessa McKeand
    Conductor:  Richard Hickox,  Edmon Colomer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Allegri String Quartet,  City of London Sinfonia,  English Chamber Orchestra
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  • 21.
    Introduction Et Allegro - French Music For Harp / Mckeand
    Label: Virgin Classics   Catalog: 90721 Release Date: 02/06/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Maurice Ravel,  André Caplet  ... 
    Performer:  Vanessa McKeand,  David Campbell,  Carol Wincenc
    Conductor:  Edmon Calamer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra,  Allegri String Quartet
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  • 22.
    Mozart, Debussy, Etc / Pierre Jamet, Et Al
    Label: Timpani   Catalog: 2122 Release Date: 10/30/2007   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel,  Gabriel Pierné  ... 
    Performer:  Gaston Crunelle,  Pierre Jamet,  Georges Blanpain,  Marcel Frecheville  ... 
    Conductor:  Gustav Cloëz,  Pierre Capdevielle
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra,  Maîtrise de la radiodiffusion Française
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  • 23.
    French Chamber Music - Debussy, Ravel, Et Al / Markus Klinko
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 54884 Release Date: 04/29/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Gabriel Fauré,  Jacques Ibert,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Daniel Marillier,  Cyrille Lacrouts,  Michel Lacrouts,  Marc Desmons  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Opera Orchestra Soloists Ensemble
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  • 24.
    Debussy: Chansons De Bilitis, Etc;  Ravel: Pavane, Etc
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 429738 Release Date: 03/27/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Catherine Deneuve,  Margit Anna Süss,  Adelheid Blovsky-Miller,  Rolf Koenen  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Wien-Berlin
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  • 25.
    Ravel, Debussy: String Quartets / Klinko, Davies, Chilingirian Quartet
    Label: Emi Classics For Pleasure   Catalog: 82231 Release Date: 03/20/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Philippa Davies,  Csaba Erdélyi,  Mark Butler,  Levon Chilingirian  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chilingirian String Quartet,  Paris Opera Orchestra Soloists Ensemble
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