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 / Cluytens, Francois, Paris Conservatoire Orchestra
Release Date: 07/29/2016   Label: Urania Records  
Catalog: WS121.268   Number of Discs: 2
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Ravel: Tzigane - Lalo: Symphonie espagnole - Franck: Violin Sonata / Gulli
Release Date: 06/24/2016   Label: Idis  
Catalog: 6716   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Gaspard de la nuit

Browse 1-25 of 124 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Early Recordings / Argerich
    Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002496102 Release Date: 06/03/2016   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Maurice Ravel,  Sergei Prokofiev
    Performer:  Martha Argerich
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  • 2.
    Un siecle de musique francaise (A Century of French Music)
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88875192862 Release Date: 05/13/2016   Number of Discs: 25
    Composer:  Pierre Boulez,  Claude Debussy,  Erik Satie,  Olivier Messiaen  ... 
    Performer:  Yvonne Minton,  Gervase de Peyer,  Michel Dalberto,  Daniel Varsano  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez,  Charles Munch,  Seiji Ozawa,  Richard Marlow  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Musique Vivante,  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra  ... 
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  • 3.
    Ondine: Works by Schumann & Ravel / Georgieva
    Label: Genuin Musikproduction   Catalog: 16408 Release Date: 04/08/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Robert Schumann,  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Irina Georgieva
    CD: $18.99
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  • 4.
    Ravel & Debussy: Piano Works / Tarasevich-Nikolaev
    Label: Acousence Classics   Catalog: 12616 Release Date: 04/08/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Arseny Tarasevich-Nikolaev
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  • 5.
    Ravel: Piano Works / Akiko Ebi
    Label: Acousence Classics   Catalog: 12515 Release Date: 04/08/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Akiko Ebi
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  • 6.
    Ravel: Complete Works for Solo Piano / Bertrand Chamayou
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 553646 Release Date: 01/29/2016   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Alfredo Casella
    Performer:  Bertrand Chamayou
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  • 7.
    111: The Collector's Editions [111 CDs]
    Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002422702 Release Date: 12/11/2015   Number of Discs: 111
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Maurice Ravel,  Felix Mendelssohn  ... 
    Performer:  David Oistrakh,  Igor Oistrakh,  Sviatoslav Richter,  Martha Argerich  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado,  Daniel Barenboim,  Lorin Maazel,  Franz Konwitschny  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Amadeus Quartet,  Orchestre de Paris  ... 
    CD: $325.49
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  • 8.
    Kathryn Stott: The Complete Solo Recordings
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88875135622 Release Date: 11/13/2015   Number of Discs: 9
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Franz Liszt,  Gabriel Fauré  ... 
    Performer:  Kathryn Stott
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  • 9.
    The Oehms Classics Recordings
    Label: Oehms   Catalog: 12 Release Date: 11/13/2015   Number of Discs: 8
    Composer:  Robert Schumann,  Maurice Ravel,  Alexander von Zemlinsky,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Herbert Schuch,  Mirijam Contzen
    Conductor:  Olari Elts
    CD: $34.99
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  • 10.
    Complete Piano Works of Ravel / Hinrich Alpers
    Label: Honens   Catalog: 201502 Release Date: 10/09/2015   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  Alfredo Casella,  Arthur Honegger,  Kendall Briggs  ... 
    Performer:  Hinrich Alpers
    CD: $18.99
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  • 11.
    Ravel: Gaspard de la Nuit; Jeux D'eau; Sonatine pour Piano; Pavane
    Label: Capriccio Records   Catalog: 5260 Release Date: 10/09/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Stefan Vladar
    CD: $17.99
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  • 12.
    Martha Argerich: The Complete Recordings on Deutsche Grammophon
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002364402 Release Date: 09/25/2015   Number of Discs: 48
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin,  Johannes Brahms,  Sergei Prokofiev,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Martha Argerich,  Guy Touvron,  Gidon Kremer,  Alexandre Gurning  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado,  Charles Dutoit,  Mstislav Rostropovich,  Jörg Faerber  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 13.
    Ravel: Miroirs; Gaspard De La Nuit; Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte /  Carlo Grante
    Label: Music & Arts   Catalog: 1289 Release Date: 07/10/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Carlo Grante
    CD: $17.99
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  • 14.
    The Complete Piano Works Of Maurice Ravel / Artur Pizarro
    Label: Linn Records   Catalog: 523 Release Date: 06/09/2015   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Artur Pizarro
    CD: $22.49
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  • 15.
    111 - The Piano - Legendary Recordings
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002281002 Release Date: 04/21/2015   Number of Discs: 40
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Robert Schumann,  Frédéric Chopin,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Pierre-Laurent Aimard,  Géza Anda,  Martha Argerich,  Daniel Barenboim  ... 
    CD: $168.99
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  • 16.
    Ivo Pogorelich - Complete Recordings
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002265002 Release Date: 03/31/2015   Number of Discs: 14
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin,  Robert Schumann,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Ivo Pogorelich
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $57.49
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  • 17.
    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:  Alexandre Tharaud,  Jean-Guihen Queyras,  Ronald Van Spaendonck,  Eric Le Sage  ... 
    Conductor:  Andrea Quinn
    CD: $48.99
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  • 18.
    Ravel: Gaspard de la Nuit... / Kathryn Stott
    Label: Musical Concepts   Catalog: 1279 Release Date: 10/27/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Kathryn Stott
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  • 19.
    The Originals - Legendary Recordings from DG
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002171502 Release Date: 10/27/2014   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky  ... 
    Performer:  David Oistrakh,  Igor Oistrakh,  Pierre Fournier,  Walter Berry  ... 
    Conductor:  David Oistrakh,  Sir Eugene Goossens,  Franz Konwitschny,  Carlos Kleiber  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Symphony Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Dresden Staatskapelle  ... 
    CD: $175.49
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  • 20.
    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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  • 21.
    Ravel: Orchestral & Virtuoso Piano / Vincent Larderet
    Label: Ars Produktion   Catalog: 38146 Release Date: 04/29/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Vincent Larderet
    SuperAudio CD: $19.99
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  • 22.
    Romantic Tales - Chopin, Ravel, Prokofiev, Scriabin / Barbara Nissman
    Label: Three Oranges Recordings   Catalog: 5638268570 Release Date: 04/02/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin,  Maurice Ravel,  Dietrich Buxtehude,  Sergei Prokofiev  ... 
    Performer:  Barbara Nissman
    CD: $24.99
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  • 23.
    Ravel: Piano Works / Vanessa Wagner
    Label: Aparte   Catalog: 62 Release Date: 04/01/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Vanessa Wagner
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  • 24.
    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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  • 25.
    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
    CD: $12.99
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