Ravel, Maurice

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.
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Ravel, Maurice

Maurice Ravel (mōrēs´ rävĕl´), 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 A. Orenstein, ed., A Ravel Reader: Correspondence, Articles, Interviews (2003); biographies by M. Goss (1940), V. I. Seroff (1953), H. H. Stuckenschmidt (tr. 1968), A. Orenstein (1975), B. Ivry (2000), and R. Nichols (2011); study by R. Nichols (1977).

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