IN THE PAGES THAT FOLLOW I HAVE TRIED TO DESCRIBE AS accurately and objectively as possible the chief characteristics of Maurice Ravel's life and work.
The first book is taken up with a biography of the composer. I have endeavoured to trace the development of his personality in relation to the course of events, showing as I do so the genesis and distinctive character of each work.
His style and technique are considered in a more general study which occupies the first chapter of the second book. In the last chapter I have tried to give in outline a portrait of the man and the artist.
"To the dead we owe but the truth." The intimate friends of a famous man often hesitate to make any public statement about him immediately after his death. Indeed, whether they disguise or disclose what they know, they run the risk of appearing unworthy either of their task or their friend. If I have not been guilty of such hesitation, it is because everything about Maurice Ravel is a delight to describe, except the grief of having lost him. For although he was a man of such fastidious reserve, he had no secret but the secret of his genius.
Accuracy and sincerity have been made easier for me, in that the relations and friends of the master, who have nothing to conceal, have freely given me their help in completing or correcting my reminiscences. It would be impossible to thank them all; but I cannot fail to mention some few in recognition of their share in this book: MM. Edouard Ravel and Alfred Perrin, the composer's brother and cousin; Maurice Delage, Lucien Garban, Manuel Rosenthal, Léon Leyritz, René Dommange; Mmes Hélène Jourdan-Morhange and Marguerite Long; Mlle Marie Gaudin; the Professors Pasteur Vallery-Radot, Alajouanine and Clovis Vincent.