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

Gershwin - An American in Paris

In the 1920s Paris exerted great charm on many Americans, particularly writers, artists and musicians.

George Gershwin and his fellow songwriter Cole Porter didn't escape its charm. The latter wrote several songs praising the city, while Gershwin composed his most ambitious orchestral work for Paris - An American in Paris.

It was first presented at New York's Carnegie Hall in 1928, by the famous Walter Johannes Damrosch's direction.

Twenty years later the play inspired a great musical film, starring Gene Kelly.

A symphonic poem

This work is a "symphonic poem", which recalls images and sounds from Paris, according to Gershwin's personal experiences.

A small vivid melody played by violins, with subtle harmonies on the substrate, introduces the American visitor. The piercing sound of the old horns of the Parisian taxis intensifies the sense of the noise of the boulevards. A quiet, thoughtful section, with finer harmonies in wood instruments and strings, invokes a sense of the city, perhaps a night under the starry sky.

The music rediscovers the rhythm, before Gershwin introduces another of his delightful melodies. A polite rhythmic figure, played first by a trumpet solo, in an obvious blues style.

A new, carefree melody also played by a solo trumpet, eventually takes the music back to the lively opening theme and them to the apparent ending of the "sad note".