Maurice Ravel is known for his eccentric style and rebellious
nature. He was often offered bribes to complete homework
assignments from school, and he often skipped school altogether.
Nonetheless, he was a great individual composer. He refused to obey
musical conventions and loved to find examples of similar examples
in the works of established masters in order to refute his
professors. His work gives us a sense of fantasy and often
encompasses us in its originality.
Maurice Ravel was born March 7th, 1875. He was born in the Pyrenees but was raised in Paris. He attended the World Exhibition Fair in 1899. This was a major turning point in his career. Here he heard the works of Rimsky-Korsakov, and fell in love. He gained a much needed influence and upon returning to Paris he began studying with String Quartet in F Major, which has become a very famous chamber piece and part of The Fifteen Greatest. Nonetheless, Ravel could not impress the Paris Conservatoire judges, and he was eliminated from the Prix de Rome competition in the first round. Fauré lobbied for him and soon there was a mass riot over this small controversy. The previous director of the Conservatoire resigned and Fauré took over at his position.
In 1908, Ravel pursued his most magnificent ballet entitled Daphnis et Chloe. It contains some of his most remarkable and beautiful music and was a success as a ballet and a orchestral piece. Following this piece, he served in World War I. He served because he felt he had a responsibility to his country. His country felt that he should remain at home, but he still enlisted and was accepted. Upon returning, his mother died and he fell into a great depression. Finally after a time, he returned to composing and his output was once again phenomenal. He began to compose in reverence of his nation's past glories. This is demonstrated in Le Tombeau de Couperin, which was based on past Baroque dance themes.
Upon Debussy's death in 1918, Ravel
became France's premier composer. However he tried to lessen his
contact with a world that he continually viewed with suspicion.
Many say that this paranoia was caused by his constant rejection in
youth, but that has never been affirmed. Also, he began to grow
sick, so although the quality of music did not degenerate, the
quantity did. As he slowly came to a close in his creative output,
France slowly began to lose a dazzling innovator in terms of
technique in music and its orchestration. He died on December 28th,
His Famous Compositions
Ravel's chamber music includes the evocative nostalgia of the
Introduction and Allegro for harp, flute, clarinet and string
quartet, a violin sonata with a jazz-style blues movement, a piano
trio and a string quartet. Tzigane, which is a remarkable excursion
into extravagant gypsy style. His other notable pieces include
Daphnis et Chloe, Piano Concerto in G Major, Piano Concerto for
Left Hand, and Bolero.
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