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

Beethoven - Egmont overture

The music in the Egmont overture is full of dynamism and melancholy, foremoing the story that will follow. This scene of the storm on Karl Anton Paul Lotz's painting "Horses in a Rainstorm" (1862) reflects the feelings depicted in the work.

Beethoven responded enthusiastically to the invitation of Vienna’s Burg Theatre to write the music of Egmont, a tragedy of the great German poet Goethe. He was pleased with this assignment for two reasons. First, because he deeply respected Goethe, and then the subject of the drama was very suited to the composer. In Goethe's story, Count Egmont - a 16th century nobleman -  of the Low Countries leads a revolution against Spanish rule to be defeated by the Duke of Alba, suppressor of the revolution. Beethoven's stage music, written in 1810, consists of an introduction, entr' actes (music that connects the acts of drama) and songs.

Beethoven's musical interpretation of Goethe's tragedy begins with a series of riveting chords that pre-release the mood of the drama. The music is ominous, echoing the tyranny of the Spanish dynasties in the 16th century and the tragic revolution of Count Egmont. Excerpts from the lyrical melody of wood wind and strings appear, but relief is minimal before the explosion of return to the original chords.

A softer part with repetitive chords of strings, leads to a more agitated music. Underlying anxiety is maintained where themes are reintroduced with various transformations. The music calms down before an orchestral sound leads to a rushing finale, sweeping the previous melancholy into a clear statement that goodwill ultimately dominates evil.