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

Carl Maria von Weber - Oberon Overture

 

Costume design for one of Weber Oberon's opera characters. Although the work is rarely performed nowadays, at its premiere in London in 1826, it was a huge success.

Oberon Opera  (or The Elf King's Oath) is a 3-act romantic opera and was Carl Maria von Weber's last. He composed it for the Theatre of London's Covent Garden (not for the current building that houses the opera house) and directed its premiere on April 12, 1826, to the cheers of the audience. Unfortunately, he was very ill and the workload required by the opera accelerated his death in London on 5 June 1826.

Oberon's libretto by James Robinson Planché was based on the German poem Oberon by Christoph Martin Wieland, which itself was based on the epic romance "Huon de Bordeaux" (a medieval French tale). However, like Euryanthe, it has never had any real success in its performances, although the introduction is still a much-loved concert work.

Some of the opera's characters are the same as those in Shakespeare's play "Summer Night's Dream," but the story differs. 

The opera is scored for 2 flutes, 2 clarinets (in A), 2 oboes, 2 bassoons, 4 horns (in D and A), 2 trumpets (in D), 3 trombones (alto, tenor and bass), strings and timpani.

The Overture gently introduces three notes of Oberon's magic horn, while there are drowned string phrases, ethereal waterfalls of notes on the woodwinds and a serene antithet of the opera's triumphant march.

A sudden chord performed by the entire orchestra removes the spell of this seductive slow introduction. The rhythm periodically slows down with the return of the horn call, followed by the theme of an important aria of the opera, which is performed for the first time by the solo clarinet and then adopted and developed beautifully by the violins.

In the stormy central section, excerpts of the melody are launched incessantly. Finally, the recap ends with the interpretation of the extended central theme by violins, which is brilliantly supported by all the woodwinds.



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