Ravel - Piano MusicAlthough Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) has often been compared to Claude Debussy, its fair to say that Ravel was more of a classicist than his great contemporary, being more influenced by the concertos of Mozart and Saint-Saëns than by Wagner, whose music he disliked. He was also drawn to jazz and music from Spain and Russia. A fastidious worker, he honed his works to perfection, leading Stravinsky to talk about "Ravel the Swiss Watchmaker". Originally from the Basque town of Ciboure, near Biarritz, he entered the Paris Conservatory in 1889; among his teachers were Gabriel Fauré. He remained at the Conservatory for not less than 16 years.
During his last years there, Ravel tried in vain to win the prestigious Prix de Rome for composition, and was eventually forbidden to try it once more. A minor scandal followed, which eventually lead to the resignation of the director and Ravel leaving the conservatory. During the first World War, Ravel was denied active army service because of his age and frail health, but he nevertheless served his country as an ambulance driver.
In 1920, the French government awarded him with the Legion d´honneur, which he declined.
In 1928 he met with great acclaim during a piano tour of the USA, where he also made friends with George Gershwin.
In 1932 Ravel suffered a car accident from which he never fully recovered. He began to experience aphasia-like symptoms and his output dropped dramatically. Medical experts examining Ravel´s clinical history have speculated that at the time of the accident he was already in the early stages of frontotemporal dementia. It has also been argued that effects of this neurological disease can be traced in works like Boléro and the piano concerto for the left hand.
In 1937, Ravel agreed to undergo experimental surgery on his brain, but the operation was unsuccessful and he died shortly afterwards.
Ravel was a superb orchestrator, who spent much of his time orchestrating piano works by himself and others, notably Debussy and Mussorgsky (Pictures of an Exhibition).
He worked with the famous choreographer Sergei Diaghilev in stage productions of his ballets Ma Mère l´Oye and Daphnis et Chloé.
Ballets: Daphnis et Chloé, Ma Mère l´Oye
Operas: L´Heure espagnole, L´Enfant et les sortilèges
Orchestral: Rhapsody Espagnole, La Valse, Boléro, Two piano concertos
Vocal: Shéhérazade and several songs with piano
Chamber: Tzigane for violin and piano, Violin Sonata, Piano Trio
Piano solo: Gaspard de la Nuit, Jeux d´eau, Miroirs, Sonatine, Valses nobles et sentimentales, Le Tombeau de Couperin, Pavane pour une infante défunte
Piano Sheet music by Maurice Ravel to Download
Total pieces by Ravel: 19
|In the style of Borodin - Waltz||n/a||1913||Piece||8|
|In the style of Emanuel Chabrier - Paraphrase on a melody by Gounod||n/a||1913||Piece||8|
|Jeux d'eau||E Major||1901||Piece||8+|
|Le Tombeau de Couperin||n/a||1917||Piece||8+|
|Minuet on the Name of Haydn||G Major||1909||Piece||7|
|Mother Goose - Five Childrens Pieces||n/a||1910||Piece||7|
|Pavane pour une infante défunte||E Minor||1899||Piece||8+|
|Valses Nobles et Sentimentales||n/a||1911||Piece||8+|
Gaspard de la nuit
Gaspard de la nuit, subtitled "Three Poems after Aloysius Bertrand," takes as its inspiration Bertrand´s collection of medieval tales, which the author claimed were whispered to him in the night by the devil, Gaspard.
Ravel, in his own words, set out to write something that would be “more difficult than [Balakirev’s] Islamey”.
The resulting suite forever changed the technical landscape of keyboard music. Each of the pieces is prefaced by one of Bertrand’s poems.
The first, Ondine, portrays a water nymph singing to seduce a mortal man to visit her kingdom at the bottom of a lake.
Le Gibet suggests “the bell sounding from the walls of a city far away below the horizon, and the carcass of a dead man hanging from a gibbet, reddened by the setting sun." Ravel´s bell is the B-flat octave that sounds continuously throughout the piece.
Finally, Scarbo gives an impression of the fiendish mischief committed by a ghostly night-dwarf, fading in and out of vision while changing forms, and finally disappearing without a trace.
|Le Gibet||E-flat Minor||1908||Piece||8+|
With Miroirs, Ravel firmly established himself as one of the leading figures in the extensive expansion of the piano’s technical and expressive means that took place in the first decade of the 20th century.
Around 1902 the composer had joined an avant-garde group of artists, writers and musicians known as the "Apaches", who used to meet regularly on Saturdays at the home of the painter Paul Sordes.
Each one of the Miroirs is dedicated to a fellow member of the Apaches. The titles of the pieces translate as follows: No. 1, Night-Moths; No. 2, Sad Birds; No. 3, A boat on the Ocean; No. 4, The Comedian’s Aubade; No. 5, The Valley of the Bells.
|Noctuelles no 1||n/a||1905||Piece||8+|
|Oiseaux Tristes no 2||n/a||1905||Piece||8+|
|Une Barque sur l'océan no 3||n/a||1905||Piece||8+|
|Alborada del Gracioso no 4||n/a||1905||Piece||8+|
|La Vallée des Cloches no 5||n/a||1905||Piece||8+|
|Posts in the piano forum about Ravel:|