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 - Tzigane (Gypsy)

The hungarian violonist Jelly d'Aranyi

In 1922, Maurice Ravel was deeply impressed by the hungarian violonist Jelly d'Aranyi, when he heard him play the gypsy music of his homeland. The composer's interest in this style resulted in this workd for violin and piano - and later for orchestra - which he composed in 1924. The work contains many elements of gypsy music.

A long and complex solo segment on violin, begins this wonderful and unusual concerto rhapsody. The passionate play of the soloist, immediately takes us to old Hungary. The oriental scales with the strangeness for the western ear style, which so fascinated Ravel, dominate dearly here from the beginning.

Other features are the chords of the violin and a multitude of string techniques, which make up this wonderful concerto-style work.

A long trill leads to the second half of the play. At first we hear the harp that combines fiery grabs and glisanti with the violin trills. We alos hear the exotic string techniques. At one point, the soloist plays bows and pizzicati (with his left hand) at the same time.

The second half of the play is more "amiable", as the virtuoso part of the beginning is replaced by simpler melodies for the violin and the orchestra.