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Maurice RAVEL
7 March 1875 - 28 December 1937 (age 62)

Ravel was a French Basque pianist and composer. His estate earns more royalties than any other French composer. Copyright on his works expires in 2015.

Family

Works

Quotes

Links

More French composers here

portrait of Ravel

Family

Born: Joseph-Maurice Ravel, 7 March 1875 in Ciboure, near Biarritz, French Basque region.
Father: Joseph Ravel, Swiss, industrialist and inventor.
Mother: Marie Delouart, Basque.
Siblings: younger brother Édouard.
Partners: none
Children: none
Died: 28 December 1937
Cause of death: Died following exploratory brain surgery.
Grave: Cimetiere de Levallois-Perret, Paris, France



Works

Operas:
L'heure espagnole
L'enfant et les sortilèges
Ballets:
Ma mère l'oye (Mother Goose)
Daphnis et Chloé
La valse
Boléro
Orchestral music:
Rapsodie espagnole
Pavane pour une infante déunte
Valses nobles et sentimentales
Chamber music
Piano music
Songs

Transciptions and Orchestrations
He was also a gifted transcriber and orchestrator.
He orchestrated Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition which had been written for the piano.


The Man

Build: A short man approx. 5'4", 1m.62cm. Slim and well proportioned with a large head and bony features
Appearance: A dandy. A follower of fashion. He liked frilly shirts and showy ties. As a young man he had a beard.
Temperament: Sensitive and self-critical with a sense of humour. Enjoyed smoking, good food and wine. Impeccable manners. A good storyteller - he loved reading and had an extensive library.
Health: Good until he was 40. He then increasingly suffered from depression, inability to concentrate, insomnia, lassitude, exhaustion and verious other mental and nervous symptoms.
Religion: Atheist. (His parents were Roman Catholic).
When he died he was buried without a religious ceremony.
Politics: Left wing. Opposed to social inequality. Anti capital punishment.
Love life: A very private man. Rumours that he was gay are unfounded. It was said that he frequented bordellos. Once he was spurned and ridiculed by a lady that he fancied which apparently put an end to further amorous pursuits.
"At heart, my only mistress is music."


Take a tour of Ravel's house

Education and Career 

- Age 3 months: Family moved to Paris
- Age 6: Began piano lessons
- Age 14: First public recital
- Age 14-20: Attended the Consevatoire de Paris as a piano major.
- Age 18: First compositions. Introduced to Erik Satie who was a big influence.
- Age 23: Returned to the Conservatoire to study composition under Gabriel Fauré. Failed 5 times to win the Prix de Rome.
- Age 25: Joined 'The Apaches' (The Hooligans) a group of artists, writers and musicians who met regularly to exchange ideas and have a good time. Worked as a freelance musician and teacher.
- Age 34: First tour of England and Scotland.
Commissioned by Sergio Diaghilev to write the ballet 'Daphnis et Chloé'. The lead dancer was Nijinsky.
- Age 39: Served as an ambulance driver during the First World War.
- Age 45: Awarded the Legion d'honneur, which he refused.
- Age 52: (1928) Very successful tour of America. It lasted 4 months and he played in 25 cities. He met Gershwin and Duke Ellington and visited New Orleans. As a result he incorporated jazz elements in much of his future work.
Awarded an honorary Doctorate of Music by Oxford University.
Wrote
Boléro . It was one his last works and is the one by which he is best known. He himself didn't think much of it.
- Later years: After Boléro he wrote his 2 piano concertos.
- He made recordings of most of his piano works.
- Age 57: he suffered concussion in a taxi accident after which he couldn't finish any work.
- Age 62: Persuaded to undergo investigative surgery he lapsed into a coma after the operation and died 9 days later.


Pavane pour une infante défunte
Milan State University Orchestra


Piano concerto in G - mov. I
L. Bernstein


La Valse
energetically conducted by Leonard Bernstein


Quotes

- "The only love affair I have ever had was with music."

- "I am not one of the great composers. All the great have produced enormously. There is everything in their work - the best and the worst, but there is always quantity. But I have written relatively little."

- "I did my work slowly, drop by drop. I tore it out of me by pieces."

- "I begin by considering an effect."

- "Music, I feel, must be emotional first and intellectual second."

- "For Debussy the musician and the man I have had profound admiration, but by nature I'm different from him. I think I have always personally followed a direction opposed to that of the symbolism of Debussy."


Bolero
Torvill & Dean - 1984 Olympics


Links - and where to go for more information

Ravel - frontispiece
www.maurice-ravel.net/

Last fm
www.last.fm/music/Maurice+Ravel

Answers.com
www.answers.com/topic/maurice-ravel

The Watchmaker's Heart - made up of lots of quotes
The Watchmaker's Heart

Mystery of the missing royalties
www.guardian.co.uk/education/2001/apr/25/arts.highereducation

- More French composers here at 52composers.com

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