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 - Events in brief

Maurice Ravel conducting the orchester, probably at London's Queen's hall on April 14th, 1923.

1875  Maurice Ravel was born on March 7 in Cibourne, near the French-Spanish border.
1889  Became a student at the Conservatory of Paris.
1895  He writes the first major works, Habanera and Menuet antique (first published work).
1905  Fails for the fourth time to win the Grand Prize of Rome.
1909  Completes his first opera, "The Spanish Hour".
1912  Completes his first ballet, "Daphnis et Chloe".
1915  Enlisted as a guide in the French army.
1917  His mother dies.
1925  Completes the opera "The Child and the Spells".
1928  First tour of the United States, composes "Bolero".
1932  Car accident interrupts his synthetic activity.
1937  Dies on December 28 in Paris after brain surgery.

  • Because of Ravel's almost ideological attachment to the detail of the composition, Russian composer Igor Stravinsky called him "the most perfect of Swiss Watchmakers"
  • Ravel was at the center of a pioneering group of musicians and writers called Les Apaches. The name is due to a newspaperman who met the group on a Paris street and was surprised by their eccentric appearance.