Thursday, March 7, 2013
French composer Maurice Ravel was born on March 7, 1875, in the Basque region of France. He grew up entirely in Paris, where he was admitted to the Paris Conservatoire at age 14 and studied with Gabriel Fauré. His music is known for memorable, often haunting melodies and the interplay of instrumental textures and effects. With Claude Debussy he is a key figure in Impressionist music, focusing on suggestiveness and atmosphere. In his 20s Ravel composed several key works, including “Pavane for a Dead Princess” (1899) and “Jeux d'eau” (“Fountains,” 1901). His masterpiece, the ballet “Daphnis et Chloé” (1912), was composed for Russian impresario Serge Diaghilev. Two orchestral works, “La Valse” (1920) and the famous “Boléro” (1928), show Ravel’s mastery in restyling and reinventing dance. Oddly, he considered the latter work trivial, describing “Boléro” as "a piece for orchestra without music."