Maurice Ravel -The Swiss Watchmaker

Maurice Ravel was born on March 7, 1875, in the small fishing village of Ciboure in the Basque region, near the Franco-Spanish border.  His father, Pierre-Joseph, was a Frenchman of Swiss descent. Pierre-Joseph, a distinguished engineer, met and fell in love with his future wife, a young and beautiful Basque, Marie Delouart, at the time she worked on the Spanish railways.  A few months after Maurice's birth, the family moved from Ciboure to Paris. The parents of Maurice Ravel, Pierre-Joseph Ravel and Marie Delouart. Maurice had a happy childhood. The parents encouraged their two children - Edouard was born in 1878 - to follow their vocation. Maurice's inclination was music. He started music lessons at the age of seven.  Unlike the parents of other composers, Pierre-Joseph viewed positively the prospect of a musical career and sent Maurice to the France's most important musical college, the Conservatoire de Paris in 1889. In the same year, the Paris Exhibition brought toget

Handel - Israel in Egypt

Although the Messiah is Handel's most famous oratorio, this highly evocative work contains some of the composer's most dramatic moments. It was written in 1739 and recounts the path of a people of the Bible from failure to victory.

Handel was religious, but unlike his contemporary J.S.Bach, he addresses to the simple feelings of ordinary people rather than their particular spiritual pursuits.

Since its premiere in 1739, "Israel in Egypt" has been a contradictory oratorio. The work is not only a scandalous example of Handel's tendency to "borrow" from other composers (his choral "Egypt was glad" comes from a work for organ by Johann Kerl), but it also had a great failure in Handel's time.

The work consists of two parts: The first is a mournful sequence from another oratorium, Saul. In the second part, the story of Exodus - based on Bible texts - includes some of Handel's most impressive choral parts. The large number of choruses, however, as well as the few parts for solo voice, made the oratorio unpopular at the time of its appearance.

Bringing the drama to life

But what makes the play stand out from most of Handel's contemporary is his ability to bring dramatic scenes to life through music. Unlike operas, the oratories have no plot, costumes or elaborate sets, so the music itself must create vivid dramatic images that will make the stories unforgettable.

In Israel in Egypt, the scourge of frogs and flies is represented by parts of brilliant orchestral writing. Flies bomb through sections for oboe and violin, while music for cellos, bassoons and harpsichords re-create the scourge of frogs. When the Red Sea is divided, moments of triumph are coordinated with drums and trumpets.

The final part of the play recounts how the waves swallowed the Egyptians. A solo voice of a high-rise contrasts with the last chorus, recounting how a horse and its rider disappeared into the sea. The voices of two choirs, four soloists and the entire orchestra interpret with increasing intensity the majestic celebration of the salvation of the Israelites from God.

The play finally gained the public's favor in the 19th century, when Handel's oratories became a feature of the English music scene. The work is often interpreted today by choirs, who treat it as a valuable and enjoyable experience.