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

Johann Strauss II -"Tales from the Vienna Woods", Op. 325

Johann Strauss II's love for Viennese life is evident in this waltz he wrote in 1868. He had just returned from his triumphant visit to Paris and this waltz is an anthem of life in his city. The people of the city used to escape to the "heuringen" or country taverns, to drink and taste the fresh air. The atmosphere of these merry excursions is expressed in the lively melody in the "Tales from the Vienna Woods".

It is one of Strauss's most figurative waltzes and one of his most popular. The themes are performed in such a way as to submit the sounds of the Viennese countryside and the fun of the villagers.

After a long introduction with melancholy hunting horns, vigorous melodies are interwoven with bird chirping, folk dances and a little memorable melody on the zither, which presents an old Austrian dance called "Ländler". The zither was the most common musical instrument of peasants and folk musicians in Strauss's time. Strauss, in this waltz invokes an instantly recognizable sound that was heard for several generations in the country taverns outside the city. After announcing the rhythm of the waltz, the strings glide sweetly and gently to the main melody.

Soon the music takes its pace. Various melodies are introduced and repeated. Often some part of the orchestra takes over emphatically, creating a wonderful combination.The coda returns to the theme of the waltz, which is once again played by the zither and as the music dives to its final scale, one last roll of drums ends in a fioritura.



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