Ravel

Ravel

[rav-uhl]
Ravel, Maurice, 1875-1937, French composer, b. in the Pyrenees. He entered the Paris Conservatory in 1889, where he was later a student of Fauré. Ravel became a leading exponent of impressionism. Along with Debussy, with whom he had an affinity of style, he led French music away from Wagnerian romanticism. He composed highly original, fluid music within the outlines of classical forms. Ravel excelled at piano composition and orchestration, often scoring his own piano pieces and works by other composers. Among his piano compositions are Pavane pour une infante défunte (1899), Jeux d'eau (1901), Gaspard de la nuit (1908), Valses nobles et sentimentales (1911), Le Tombeau de Couperin (1917), and Concerto in D Major, for left hand (1931). His orchestral works include Rhapsodie Espagnole (1908) and Bolero (1928); he is also known for his orchestration of Modest Moussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition (1922). Other works are the song cycle Shéhérazade (1903), two operas, the chamber piece Tzigane, and ballets such as Daphnis et Chloé (1912), Ma Mère l'Oye (1912), and La Valse (1920).

See biographies by M. Goss (1940), V. I. Seroff (1953), H. H. Stuckenschmidt (tr. 1968), A. Orenstein (1975), and B. Ivry (2000); study by R. Nichols (1977).

Jeux d’eau is a piece for solo piano by the French Impressionistic composer, Maurice Ravel. The title often translates to “Fountains”, “Water Games”, and “Playing water” (See Jeux d'eau, water features in gardens.) The piece, a virtuosic tone-poem, is inspired by Franz Liszt (Jeux d'eau a la Villa d'Este), and also as Ravel explained:

This work is considered one of the first examples of "musical impressionism" among Ravel's compositions. At the time of writing this work, Ravel was a student under Gabriel Fauré to whom it is dedicated. Ricardo Viñes was the first to publicly perform the work in 1902, although it had been privately performed for the Apaches previously. Written on the manuscript by Ravel, and often included on published editions, is "Dieu fluvial riant de l'eau qui le chatouille... / Henri de Régnier" which in English editions is translated to "River god laughing as the water tickles him..."; this quote is from Régnier's Cité des eaux as a note that the piece is to be played lightly. To one performer who played the piece too slowly, Ravel said her waterfalls sounded sad.

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