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, 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: Piano Concertos;  Fauré: Ballade / Louis Lortie
Release Date: 10/28/1992   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 8773   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: Pièce en forme de Habañera

Browse 1-25 of 162 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    The Silver Album / Mutter, Orkis
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002054902 Release Date: 06/10/2014   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Fritz Kreisler,  Gabriel Fauré,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Anne-Sophie Mutter,  Lambert Orkis
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  • 2.
    Johanna Martzy, Vol. 3
    Label: Doremi Records   Catalog: 8034 Release Date: 05/13/2014   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Béla Bartók,  Antonio Vivaldi  ... 
    Performer:  Johanna Martzy
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  • 3.
    Rohan De Saram In Concert, Vol. 2
    Label: Claudio   Catalog: 6005 Release Date: 03/25/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Luigi Boccherini,  Johannes Brahms,  James Dillon,  Richard Strauss  ... 
    Performer:  Rohan de Saram,  Druvi De Saram
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  • 4.
    Icon: The Early Years - Yehudi Menuhin
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 928129 Release Date: 01/28/2014   Number of Discs: 12
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Marius Casadesus,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Yehudi Menuhin,  George Enescu,  Hephzibah Menuhin,  Hubert Giesen  ... 
    Conductor:  George Enescu,  Pierre Monteux,  Sir Malcolm Sargent,  Sir Edward Elgar  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Symphony Orchestra,  Orchestre de la Société du Conservatoire Paris,  Orchestre de Paris  ... 
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  • 5.
    The Complete Recordings of Johanna Martzy on EMI & Deutsche Grammophon
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 81400 Release Date: 11/12/2013   Number of Discs: 13
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Franz Schubert,  Felix Mendelssohn  ... 
    Performer:  Johanna Martzy,  Jean Antonietti
    Conductor:  Paul Kletzki,  Wolfgang Sawallisch,  Ferenc Fricsay,  Eugen Jochum
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Berlin RIAS Symphony Orchestra,  Bavarian Radio Chamber Orchestra
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    CD: $132.49
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  • 6.
    The World Of The Oboe
    Label: Oboe Classics   Catalog: 2026 Release Date: 05/14/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Napoléon Coste,  Robert Schumann,  Pam Wedgewood,  Ennio Morricone  ... 
    Performer:  Dimitris Dekavallas,  Marios Argiros,  Jeremy Polmear,  Diana Ambache  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Members of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra (Membe
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  • 7.
    Espana! - Albeniz, Falla, Mompou, Ravel, Rodrigo
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 2908530 Release Date: 03/12/2013   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Manuel de Falla,  Maurice Ravel,  Federico Mompou,  Joaquin Rodrigo  ... 
    Performer:  Ginesa Ortega,  Joan Martin,  Joan Cabero,  Inaki Fresan  ... 
    Conductor:  Josep Pons
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Barcelona Teatre Lliure Chamber Orchestra,  Granada City Orchestra,  Badalona Children's Choir
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  • 8.
    Ravel: Complete Works For Violin & Piano / Neudauer, Steckel
    Label: Hänssler Classic   Catalog: 98002 Release Date: 01/29/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Lena Neudauer,  Paul Rivinius,  Julian Steckel
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  • 9.
    Label: Farao   Catalog: B108031 Release Date: 01/01/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ferdinand Ries,  Gabriel Fauré,  Enrique Granados,  Francesco Maria Veracini  ... 
    Performer:  Benjamin Rawitz,  Janos Maté
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  • 10.
    100 Best Chamber Music
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 972777 Release Date: 11/19/2012   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Various,  Johann Pachelbel,  Henry Purcell,  Antonio Vivaldi  ... 
    Performer:  Renaud Capuçon,  Emmanuel Pahud,  Natalie Clein,  Pinchas Zuckerman  ... 
    Conductor:  Jordi Savall,  Daniel Barenboim,  Fabio Biondi
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Players,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Nash Ensemble  ... 
    CD: $19.99
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  • 11.
    Ravel: Orchestral Music, Vol. 1 / Slatkin, Orchestre National De Lyon
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8572887 Release Date: 11/13/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Conductor:  Leonard Slatkin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lyon National Orchestra
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  • 12.
    Ravel: Orchestral Music, Vol. 1 / Slatkin, Orchestre National De Lyon [blu-ray Audio]
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 30 Release Date: 11/13/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Conductor:  Leonard Slatkin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lyon National Orchestra
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  • 13.
    Traveling Sonata: European Music For Flute & Guitar
    Label: Reference Recordings   Catalog: 128 Release Date: 11/13/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gabriel Fauré,  Maurice Ravel,  François Borne,  Erik Satie  ... 
    Performer:  Viviana Guzman,  Jérémy Jouve
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  • 14.
    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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  • 15.
    Steven Staryk: A Retrospective, Vol. 2 - Violin Gems
    Label: Centaur Records   Catalog: 3203 Release Date: 09/25/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Fritz Kreisler,  Henri Wieniawski,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Steven Staryk
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  • 16.
    Brahms: Sonata In G Major; Franck: Sonata In A Major; Ravel: Piece En Forme De Habanera; Kreisler: Liebesleid
    Label: Doron Music   Catalog: 4016 Release Date: 08/28/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  César Franck,  Fritz Kreisler,  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Paul Coker,  Yehudi Menuhin
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  • 17.
    The Very Best Of Paul Tortelier
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 21730 Release Date: 07/17/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Antonio Vivaldi,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Johannes Brahms,  Richard Strauss  ... 
    Performer:  Paul Tortelier,  Maria de La Pau,  Max Rostal,  Shuku Iwasaki  ... 
    Conductor:  Paul Tortelier,  Jörg Faerber,  Rudolf Kempe,  Sir Adrian Boult  ... 
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  • 18.
    Icon - Young Genius Of The Violin / Michael Rabin
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 6790602 Release Date: 01/10/2012   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Niccolò Paganini,  Henri Wieniawski,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Felix Mendelssohn  ... 
    Performer:  Michael Rabin,  Leon Pommers
    Conductor:  Lovro von Matacic,  Sir Eugene Goossens,  Sir Adrian Boult,  Alceo Galliera  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra
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  • 19.
    A  La Albeniz / Buckholz, Botkin
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 1311 Release Date: 12/13/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Rodion Shchedrin,  Paul-Henri Büsser,  Jean Aubain,  Paul Hindemith  ... 
    Performer:  Chris Buckholz,  Sean Botkin
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  • 20.
    Michael Rabin -  Studio Recordings 1954-1960
    Label: Testament   Catalog: 1471 Release Date: 12/13/2011   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Niccolò Paganini,  Alexander Glazunov,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Felix Mendelssohn  ... 
    Performer:  Michael Rabin,  Leon Pommers
    Conductor:  Sir Eugene Goossens,  Lovro von Matacic,  Alceo Galliera,  Felix Slatkin  ... 
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  • 21.
    Salvatore Accardo
    Label: Dynamic   Catalog: 715 Release Date: 12/13/2011   Number of Discs: 9
    Composer:  Giuseppe Tartini,  Nathan Milstein,  Josef Suk,  Pablo de Sarasate  ... 
    Performer:  Salvatore Accardo,  Laura Manzini,  Margaret Batjer,  Toby Hoffman  ... 
    Conductor:  Mario Di Bonaventura
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hopkins Center Orchestra
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  • 22.
    Violin Showpieces / Tasmin Little
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 0859002 Release Date: 11/29/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Fritz Kreisler,  Johannes Brahms,  Frederick Delius,  Manuel Ponce  ... 
    Performer:  Tasmin Little,  John Lenehan,  Piers Lane
    CD: $12.99
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  • 23.
    The Art Of Luigi Alberto Bianchi
    Label: Dynamic   Catalog: 690 Release Date: 11/22/2011   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Antonio Bazzini,  Niccolò Paganini,  Fritz Kreisler,  Pablo de Sarasate  ... 
    Performer:  Luigi A. Bianchi,  Aldo Arvieto,  Maruizio Preda,  Bruno Canino  ... 
    Conductor:  Jacques Delacôte
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  • 24.
    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
    CD: $8.99
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  • 25.
    The Heifetz Collection Vol 19 - 51 Miniatures 1944-1946
    Label: Rca Victor Gold Seal   Catalog: 61750 Release Date: 06/10/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Frédéric Chopin,  Robert Schumann,  Alexander Krein  ... 
    Performer:  Jascha Heifetz,  Emanuel Bay,  Milton Kaye,  Bing Crosby
    Conductor:  Salvador Camarata,  Victor Young
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra
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