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

Bedřich Smetana - The Bartered Bride

 

Wedding is generally a happy event and the music of The Bartered Bride, despite its title, is full of cheer.

Composed between 1863 and 1866, based on a libretto by Karel Sabina, this undivided story with the romantic plot takes place in a village of Bohemia. It was the second of Smetana's eight operas and is part of his obsession to create the then non-existent national Czech opera. He composed no fewer than five variations between 1866 and 1870, developing the work from a simple operetta to the three-act work we know today.

- Overture

Bedřich Smetana was accused of imitating Richard Wagner's monumental operas. Critics deemed him incapable of writing more upbeat music. With The Bartered Bride he disproved his critics with his comic opera in three acts. From the first chord of the Overture, the strings run through the scales, accompanied by the lively theme played successively by the various parts of the orchestra, until they take off together in a fast, rhythmic melody.

- Polka

Polka, with her cheerful pace, comes back every now and then dancing. It culminates in the ecstatic dance of the villagers, who eventually fall exhausted but cheerfully to the ground.


- Furiant

Furiant - a rapid and fiery Bohemian dance -  is just as lively, but the music is abandoned in wide acrobatic moves.

- Dance of the Comedians

The Dance of the Comedians begins with the strings. The humor manifests itself in the high-altitude appearance of the piccolo and in the trumpet. Here's a rocking part that evolves into a faster string interpolation. The music is interrupted by drums and, after a brief hesitation, the comedians engage in new pranks.


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