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

Joseph Haydn - Symphony in G minor "Surprise Symphony"The chase to Jean-Honoré Fragonard

"The Chase" by Jean-Honoré Fragonard has a similar element of surprise to that of the Haydn "Surprise Symphony".

Joseph Haydn
made two very successful visits to London, organized by the German-born violinist and impressionist Johann Peter Salomon. 

The composer wrote six symphonies on each visit, which are his last and best. This symphonie belongs to the group of six he wrote on his first visit in 1791-2. 

These twelve symphonies are also known as the "Salomon Symphonies".


I. Adagio cantabile - Vivace assai

The first movement, with the inaugural Adagio cantabile, has a slow introduction with alternating parts between the woodwinds and the strings. It follows a Vivace assai, which travels lightly with the original melody played by the violins, until the fast entrance of the entire orchestra. The second theme contains a syncopated rythm in bassoons, violas and second violins. The original theme is reissued, and then the central part introduces a new key and builds a dramatic escalation. The music goes back to the original themes, but this time with some subtle changes of melody and tone.

II. Andante

The second movement, Andante, begins with a simple melody reminiscent of a children's song. The music goes up and down with steps of double notes - played gently, then repeated even softer and a sudden, loud chord surprises us. This is the famous "surprise" that gave the symphonie its name. The rest of the part is a series of variations of melody, showing Haydn's virtuosity in rhythmic and organic combinations.The second variant, for example, begins with force in a minor way, with the identification of the string and the woodwind, while another variation puts the oboe to play in time of two notes accompanied by the string. In the final part, the coda, the first part of the melody appears in oboes and bassoons with an interesting harmonic substrate of the strings.

III. Menuetto: Allegro molto

The third movement, Menuetto: Allegro molto, has a central "trio" part with a wonderful melody for violins and bassoons.

IV. Allegro di molto

The finale, Allegro di molto, is full of vibrancy and pulse. But when the original material reappears, it suddenly takes off in a new, stormy episode to then return to the bright mood of the part. Just before the end, as the final escalation seems to have reached its peak, a redeeming roll appears on the drums with increasing intensity, as if the "surprise" of the sudden chord of the second part.