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

Chopin - Introduction

Painting of Chopin's portait

In Aleksander Ford's film "Youth of Chopin" the protagonist embodied a young man with an elaborate appearance, whose eyes looked on and yet were absent from the meeting scene... This young man never smiled, too bad, because it would look like he'd have a nice smile... Ford's film helped me more than my listenings helped me out 20 years ago, sketching composer Chopin.

Shortly afterwards I read another subversive "biographical" novel that troubled me again: he chronicled his contradictory life, presenting him as an unwitting, atrophiedly sensitive guy with eccentrically expresed melancholy. I was at the beginning of my pianist career and all this meant a lot...

Twenty years later, studying through the sources of his works and his life, I believe Chopin was a witty man, low-voiced but dynamic, a lover of beauty, a dreamy Apostle of Poland. No, Chopin was neither an enemy of life nor a victim of it. He allowed himself to become independent from the measure of others, avoided their own regularity.

He lived with his own rubato, what List described so nicely: "Look at the trees, the wind plays with the leaves, makes them flutter, but the tree stays still".

Chopin was a tree that ideally protected a delicate romantic soul and perfectly projected a maximum classic spirit.

(Efi Agrafioti)


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