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

Claude Debussy - Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun

Waslav Nijinsky and Flore Revalles in Afternoon of a Faun.

When this instrumental work was first presented in 1894, it provoked strong criticism, that it has no form and does not follow any known tradition. It has a dreamy quality, where the melodies meet in a perpetual, carefree movement.

This work is Debussy's first characteristic and important orchestral work. The inspiration was a poem by his fellow poet Stèphane Mallarmè which describes the atmosphere and the setting of a mythical faun that falls asleep and dreams in a clearing of the forest, on a warm, drowning summer afternoon.

It begins with a long solo of the flute, an instrument that Claude Debussy loved because for him it subjected the distant and lost mythical world. The inaugural melody of the flute or parts of it, revert throughout the play, played alternately by strings and wood wind instruments. The volume of music fluctuates without ever disturbing the basic mood of warmth and chastity.

Also listen to the short harmonic section that gently play the horns. This kind of composing distinguished Debussy as one of the most inspiring orchestrators. He mixes the tonal qualities of the various instruments, as the painter mixes the colors in his palette.