Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Happy birthday, Maurice Ravel

Ravel was born in Ciboure, a Basque town in south-west France, on 7 March 1875 and died in Paris on 28 December 1937. We all know Bolero but it’s worth exploring the piano concertos, in fact all the piano music, in fact all the orchestral music. The chamber music is all wonderful too. He once said:
I am not one of the great composers. All the great have produced enormously. There is everything in their work – the best and the worst, but there is always quantity. But I have written relatively very little . . . and at that, I did it with a great deal of difficulty. I did my work slowly, drop by drop. I have torn all of it out of me by pieces. . . and now I cannot do any more, and it does not give me any pleasure.
Which explains his relatively small output, but what an output. Here is Martha Argerich performing Ravel’s Jeux d’eau in 1977:

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