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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Composer Study: Ravel

2009-2010 TERM 3 Maurice Ravel (1915)

Ravel was an atheist... sad.  And single...  real sad.  Like many composers he was unique, borderline strange.  But we like this about him:
"From childhood he had a particular liking for minute objects, miniatures, the tiny world of figurines, little things that worked by clockwork, mechanical birds 'whose heart-beats he felt' and miniscule Japanese gardens which evoked for him the giants of the forest." 
   (Marguerite Long, At the piano with Ravel)
Here's a timeline of his life... 

Some additional somewhat interesting facts about him are, that he was French.  After an experimental brain surgery as a result of a brain injury as a result of a car accident... the result was, he died.  On April 8, 2008, the New York Times published an article saying Ravel may have been in the early stages of frontotemporal dementia in 1928, and this might account for the repetitive nature of Boléro. (I did actually think this was funny. [sorry... not in the laugh at someone while they're down kind of way... just the fact that the song IS rather repetitive and this would explain it!])  Despite that last fact, Stravinsky did once call Ravel the "Swiss Watchmaker", for the intricacy and precision of his works.**

Listening selections for this term:
    Daphne et Chloe - selections
    Bolero (read more about Bolero here) & (the wiki here - *WARNING image at top right hand of page)
    Mother Goose Suite
    Pavane pour une infante dufunte
    Piano Concerto in D for left hand, (part 1) and (part 2)

    Rhapsody espagnole

Ravel's Bolero:
Listen to the music:

See the ice skating:
(thanks to Susan in PA for pointing this one out)

Here is another version of Bolero for comparison (in two parts):
Yes, they ARE different, see if you can tell how?

(thanks for this one Janet!)

Here are the instruments in order of appearance:
snare drum
soprano clarinet
E-flat sopranino clarinet
oboe d'amore
muted trumpet & flute
B-flat tenor saxophone
B-flat soprano saxophone
piccolo & french horn & celesta
various woodwinds
tenor trombone
woodwind section
strings, strings & winds in various combos to end...
(thanks bassoonlady!)

Ravel's Mother Goose Suite:

A very nice performance of Ravel's Mother Goose Suite for Piano 4-Hand.
(thank you KayP)
Here are the CDs we're enjoying this term:
Click here to read about how we do Composer Study
We also use: Composer Response Questions by Jimmie
More Composer Study links

**Random information gathered from &


Kristi Smith said...

Ha ha ha... Amy you crack me up!

"Ravel was an atheist... sad. And single... real sad."

The poor man; he lacked Jesus. But the *real* tragedy was that he lacked a spouse!

I did think it was interesting that they think his dementia may have influenced Bolero. I wish my Gram's dementia was that productive!

Silvia said...

LOL...I'm also laughing at the need some people have to explain every single thing in the life of famous artists.

It's a cliche, but I just love this piece, it evokes Spanish landscapes in my brain (maybe I'm in the early stages of schizophrenia).

Phyllis said...

Composer study at it's best. I think these suggestions and information will be wonderful for our composer study. Thanks for sharing this with us!

turtlemama said...

You do the most marvelous job at exploring the artists and composers and bringing the studies to life. I LOVE the link to Torvill and Dean in the 1984 Olympics. I'm certain I must have watched them. My girls will love this.

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