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

Maurice Ravel - Valses nobles et sentimentales

 

Performance of the ballet "Adélaïde, ou le langage des fleurs" in 1912.

The seven "Valses nobles et sentimentales" and the epilogue of this orchestral suite were originally written for piano in 1911. Maurice Ravel chose the title in homage to Franz Schubert, who had released collections of waltzes in 1823 entitled Valses nobles and Valses sentimentales. 

The work was first presented in Paris in a recital of anonymous compositions. Many of Ravel's fans disapproved of the music, not imagining that the deliberate "wrong notes" belonged to one of the most beloved French composers.

In 1912 Ravel orchestrated the suite and presented it as a ballet under the title "Adélaïde, ou le langage des fleurs (Adelaide: The Language of Flowers).

The dynamic start reminds us that this is an unusual waltz. On the contrary, the second part is slow and expressive. For this lanzy subject, Ravel chose the flute, which plays in its lower extension. With a relaxed oboe melody begins the third part that is more reminiscent of waltz. The music continues without interruption in the next more lively part. The clarinet introduces the dreamy fifth part. Here the rythm of the waltz is more disguised. 

In the short sixth part, the traditional rhythms return. Restless shapes of strings and woodwinds create a gentle climax, while drums make a rare appearance. The music calms down and disappears suddenly, as it began.

A slow introduction with syncopating notes of the horn and harp defines the beginning of the seventh waltz before the music returns to the rhythms of the first part. The music evolves to stand in a dissentful chord. A tender middle section leads to a repetition of the first section.

The last part is slow and expressive. The instruments contrast and intertwine different parts of the melody. The strings play with sourdina and are finally separated. The horn, trumpet and tambourine make a final comment reminiscent of a waltz and a solo clarinet, accompanied by a harp, strings and celesta, quietly completes the work.


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