Maurice Ravel (1875–1937)
A master of harmony and tone colors, Maurice Ravel wrote quite a number of works that testify to his love of Spanish music – among them the Bolero and the Rapsodie espagnole.
Ravel and his Bolero are often mentioned in one breath; it is, after all, his most popular and most frequently played work. Originally premiered as a ballet with the dancer Ida Rubenstein in 1928, the work soon acceded to world fame. Ravel once gave an ironical assessment of the Bolero’s success: “My masterpiece? The Bolero, of course. Too bad there's no music in it.”
The reception of other works by Ravel varied during his lifetime. Unusual harmonies and rhythms were considered as abrasive and fascinating at the same time. Ravel had originally wanted to become a pianist. At the age of 13 he began taking piano lessons with Emile Descombes, a pupil of Chopin’s. He then studied at the Paris Conservatoire and decided to take composition instruction from Gabriel Fauré only in 1897.
A master of harmony and tone colors, Maurice Ravel wrote quite a number of works that testify to his love of Spanish music music – among them the Bolero and the Rapsodie espagnole. Thanks to his mother, who was a Basque, he felt close to that land in his earliest childhood.
Ravel took great care in notating his works; his orchestrations, such as that for Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, are stunning on account of their unbelievable sensitivity for nuances of sound.
The renowned Ravel expert and conductor Jean-François Monnard is responsible for the quality of the scores and performing parts in the Breitkopf Urtext editions.