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

Camille Saint-Saëns - Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Op. 78 (The Organ Symphony)

The symphony was commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Society in England to commemorate its seventy-third anniversary. It was presented in London on May 19, 1886 at St James's Hall, conducted by the composer. It is the last composition of Camille Saint-Saëns for this instrument and the most popular. The composer dedicated the work to the memory of his friend Franz Liszt, whom he admired immensely.

The Symphony is also popularly known as the Organ Symphony, even though it is not a true symphony for organ, but simply an orchestral symphony where two sections out of four use the pipe organ. The composer inscribed it as: Symphonie No. 3 "avec orgue" (with organ).

Movements:

I. Adagio - Allegro moderato

The serious beginning of Adagio - Allegro moderato is slow and hesitant - but the mood is brightened as more vivid material offered by the violins and drums, means the actual start of the symphony, where wide melodies of the wind instruments emerge and sink. After the opening section is repeated and enlarged, the music becomes quieter, preparing the serene, contrastingly slow part.


II. Poco adagio

With the launch of the Poco adagio, the organ is heard for the first time, but it initially has an accompanying role. With the exception of double bass, the strings play the expressive original melody, producing a rich, pulsating sound. Later, an elaborate variation of this theme is played by the violins. Finally, the original melody is heard for the last time with the instrument and the accompaniment of the strings' pizzicato.


III. Allegro moderato - Presto

The restless mood of the opening part returns to the inventive Allegro moderato - Presto. In the presto section, turbulent string designs release the wordy plays of wind instruments. This is where the piano first appears - its upward scales contribute to a sense of haste and excitement. In Presto's iteration, a distinctly new theme emerges from brass bass and deep strings - and a sense of competition between two orchestral elements prevails. But the calm gradually returns towards the end.


IV. Maestoso

A magnificent full chord in the organ announces the mighty Maestoso. The theme played on the piano and strings, is repeated on the instrument accompanied by the orchestra. The mood is joyful and triumphant. Towards the end of it, the pace accelerates causing excitement. The short final section with the processed shapes of the scales, leads the section to a glorifying conclusion.


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