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

Georges Bizet - L' Arlésienne (The Girl from Arles), Suite No. 2

Front of the piano transcription of Bizet's L' Arlésienne.

This second suite was created after the death of Georges Bizet by Ernest Guiraud, one of his collaborators. Guiraud used three pieces from Bizet's original, which includes the famous Farandole, but curiously added Menuet from his almost forgotten opera, "The Fair Maid of Perth". It is a wonderful work, particularly beloved by the concert audience, although it does not attribute the drama of rural life of Provence as depicted in the original.


I. Pastorale

Pastorale is scenography at its best. The thunderous rhythm of the music, submits the image of the villagers returning from the fields in the midday heat. But there is also lyricism, in the wonderful melody reminiscent of bird chirping and which is introduced just before the pastoral theme is heard again.

II. Intermezzo

In Intermezzo the main melody is rendered by saxophone and horn, accompanied by the strings. It's music is simple and emotional. In the play, this music precedes the scene where Frédéri agrees to forget Arlésienne and marry the girl who loves him long ago.

III. Minuet

Menuet is a loan from Bizet's opera 1866 opera "The Fair Maid of Perth". Full of kindness and grace it is very popular, although it seems a little out of place in the passionate context of the music that surrounds it.

IV. Farandole

The famous Farandole is based on an old melody from Provence. Here, it incorporates the theme of the March of the Kings once again of Suite No. 1 and which is later woven and combined with Farandole. This lively music, full of cheer and life, is an ideal ending to this excellent work.