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

Vivaldi - “Summer” (from Four Seasons), Violin concerto in G minor, Op.8, No. 2

Poussin's painting of workers harvesting drips
Vivaldi's "Summer" is a time of drowning, tyrannical heat, with storm breaks.

I. Allegro non molto

"Under a hard season, fired up by the sun
Languishes man, languishes the flock and burns the pine
We hear the cuckoo’s voice;
then sweet songs of the turtle dove and finch are heard.
Soft breezes stir the air but threatening
the North Wind sweeps them suddenly aside.
The shepherd trembles,
fearing violent storms and his fate."

The first part, Allegro non moltosubmits a lazy mood under the scorching sun, with small phrases in the most thoughtful rolled key. This is followed by a more passionate intercalary, with birdsong stresses and more restless spots as the air rises.

II. Adagio 

"The fear of lightning and fierce thunder
Robs his tired limbs of rest
As gnats and flies buzz furiously around."

In central Adagio, the sleep of a young shepherd is upsetsed by lightning but also by swarms of wasp and flies!

III. Presto

"Alas, his fears were justified
The Heavens thunder and roar and with hail
Cut the head off the sheet and damages the grain."

The storm breaks out in the final Presto, torrential rain and hail lash the fields and bend the corn.