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

Gioachino Rossini - Semiramide


Gioachino Rossini

This is Gioachino Rossini's most serious operatic work since William Tell. It is an opera in two acts and it was first presented at Venice's La Fenice Theatre on February 3, 1823. The libretto by Gaetano Rossi is based on Voltaire's tragedy Semiramis, which in turn was based on the legend of Semiramis of Assyria.

The originality of the Overture is that it incorporates music from the opera, which strengthens the bond between the instrumental composition of the beginning and the drama that follows. 

The Overture starts with drum rolls and the music moves from pianissimo (very quiet) to fortissimo (very loud) in less than half a minute. A brief pause leads to a quiet, flowing melody presented by horns and bassoons. The previous fortissimo returns and then repeats the melody of the horn for a second time, but now in the woodwinds accompanied by decorative pizzicatti in harmonic chords of strings.

A sudden dramatic chord interrupts and begins the main part of the introduction. After another pizzicato, the inaugural music returns, followed by a light, ethereal melody of violins, which is developed by the entire orchestra. A string pizzicatti brings a second melody, played by clarinets and bassoons. A small climax leads to a short, later segment and a repetition of the two previous themes, before moving to a final vigorous escalation.