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

Ravel - Le Tombeau de Couperin

Ravel has been an expert in combination of new and old musical forms. In "Le Tombeau de Couperin" he perfects his technique for extremely personal reasons.


Maurice Ravel drew inspiration from the music of the past and from his childhood hearings. In Le Tombeau de Couperin (The Tomb of Couperin), he uses his talent to express his personal despair at the loss of many of his close friends during the Great War of 1914-18.

The composer had personally experienced the horrors of life in the trenches and realized that war had permanently changed the face of the world. In Le Tombeau de Couperin, which he composed between 1914-17, he returns to the happy moments of a permanently lost past.

The title refers honorably to the death of the French composer François Couperin (1668-1733), although Ravel clarified that the work was more of a general expression of respect for 18th-century French music. Some parts of the six-part work - each dedicated to a friend killed in the war - are written in the characteristic, polite style of the 18th century. In the orchestral variation, Ravel introduces a musette - a variation of the 18th-century ascaulus - into the project's Menuet, to enhance plausibility.

Cover of the first printed edition 
designed by Ravel himself
Looking to the future 

Le Tombeau de Couperin is not, however, a lament for the lost past. Several of the six parts of the project are vivid and looking to the future. In particular, Prelude and Menuet bring old dance forms to life, while the third, Forlane, is serene and bold.

The play, originally written for piano, was orchestrated by Ravel in 1919. The orchestral variation reinforces the emotions of the original work, with tender and moving dialogues between strings and wooden pnests.

Ravel himself described The Tomb of Couperin as a memorial for all the French lost in the Great War.


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