Home: Overview: Biographies: Maurice Ravel

On March 7, Maurice Ravel was born in Ciboure, a small fishing port between St. Jean-de-Luz and the Spanish border. His father, Pierre-Joseph Ravel was a Swiss decent and his mother, Marie Deluart, was a Spanish-Basque decent.

Ravel started taking piano lessons at age eleven. At age fourteen, he entered the Paris Conservatoire. Ravel was influenced by Claude Debussy, Liszt, Mussorgsky, Faure, surreal movements of Dada and the jazz movement in America. Ravel focused on the precis elements and rhythmic musical patterns.

Ravel was a musical craftsmen. In whatever medium, piano, orchestra, opéra or orchestra, Ravel excelled as in artist. Ravel's musical style and composition was described as Impressionist. However, Ravel was much more than Impressionist. His style included Romanticism, Neo-Classicism, Spanish music and Jazz. Ravel love for animals, nature in general, children and fairy tales was reflected in his music.

His musical style was also reflected by his character. He was withdrawn from people. He lived in the woods outside Paris. His friends and students were meticulously chosen. Ravel only accepted a few students during his whole career. Ravel's musical scores were also meticulous written. The quality of the composition came before quantity. Stravinsky described him as the "Swiss watchmaker."

Ravel was convinced that music was not the best means to convey emotions. Many of his colleagues said he wore his heart far from his sleeve. Ravel was said to be extremely reserved. Ravel said, "People are always telling me I have no heart. "It is not true. I am a Basque, and the Basques feel things very strongly, but rarely reveal their feelings, and then only to a very few."

During World War I, Ravel was assigned to drive trucks. Due to an illness he was dismissed. In 1932, he suffered a nervous breakdown. His health deteriorated over the next six years. In 1937 he had brain surgery but died later that year, in Paris, at the age of sixty-two.

Abbreviated list of works by Maurice Ravel.

Opera works

  • L'heure espagnole, The Spanish Clock and imaginative
  • L'enfant et les sortilèges, The Child and the Enchantments

Symphony works

  • Rapsodie espagnole - Symphony
  • Daphmis et Chloe - Symphony

Ballet works

  • La Valse - Piano concertos, ballet score
  • Bolero - Piano concertos, ballet score
  • Ma mère l'oye, Mother Goose, piano duet
  • Daphnis et Chloé, ballet score

Orchestra works

  • Rapsodie espagnole, Spanish Rhapsody
  • Pavane pour une infante défunte, Pavane for a Dead Infanta
  • Menuet antique
  • Alborada del gracioso from Miroirs
  • Pieces from Le tombeau de Couperin.
  • Rapsodie espagnole / Pavane pour une infante défunte, written for the left hand only, commissioned by the pianist Paul Wittgenstein, who had lost his right arm in the war, 1930
  • Piano Concerto for the Left Hand / Piano Concerto in G Major, 1931
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