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

Handel - Water Music, Suite I in F major (HWV 348)

 

A page from the score of Handel's Water Music written in 1717. This work is the most popular and most beloved of all his numerous compositions.

Handel's Water Music, one of the composer's most popular and beloved works, was first presented on the evening of Wednesday, July 17, 1717. An orchestra of fifty musicians sailed next to King George I and several aristocrats, as the royal yacht led a huge fleet of boats on a tour of the Thames toward Chelsea.

As the royal procession passed majestically between Lambeth in the east and Chelsea in the west to return, the King was so fascinated by Handel's music that he ordered the orchestra to replay the play three times. The exhausted musicians got permission to stop at two o'clock in the morning!

Suite I in F major (HWV 348)

1. Overture (Largo – Allegro) 
2. Adagio e staccato 
3. Allegro – Andante – Allegro da capo 
4. Passepied 
5. Air 
6. Minuet 
7. Bourrée 
8. Hornpipe 
9. Andante 
10. Allegro 
11. Hornpipe

Handel's proud use of the French horn in this suite suggests the magnificence of the royal procession on the Thames in July 1717. Imagine King George I and his retinue on the royal yacht, with the musicians sailing next to their own boats, as the music begins with an imposing introduction, Ouverture (Largo & Allegro).

The serene mood lasts a while and the violins break out in a new vivid melody, soon followed by the entire orchestra. An Adagio e staccato follows antithetically, where a solo oboe plays its highly decorated melody on the substrate of a slow chord of strings and harpsichord.

Allegro gives the first taste of outdoor music and French horns appear. Capturing the mood of the occasion to perfection, the horns transform a traditional nautical dance into a joyful celebration, while the entire orchestra participates in the celebration. Handel's use of the French horn was innovative, but also ideally suited to the grandeur of this floating fanfare. Andante, where two oboe are projected with intensity, holds an intermediate part of the part. Then the inaugural Allegro is repeated.

Passepied - A tempo di menuetto includes music for solo horn, while the mood settles into a more imposing mood. The strings echo the trumpets of the horns, then continue while the horns recede.

Air, one of the composer's most famous melodies, continues the polite mood and with the sneering of the horns creates a serene atmosphere. Oboe share the melody and the first violins with the harpsichord support with their own melodic phrases, creating a combination of instruments typical for the time.

Two horns start Minuet, while the opening measures of the solo remind us of the older use of the instrument by hunters. And just as the galloping hunter's trumpet is lost away, so the horn is lost from the suite.

The mood is attuned to the lively Bourrée, a French dance, played three times: strings, oboe and bassoon and finally by the entire orchestra.

Hornpipe (nautical dance) is also performed three times.

An Andante trio of woodwinds, two oboe and bassoon and

The Allegro moderato begins - later the strings are combined with the soloists. 

Hornpipe and after a short pause, the suite ends with two imposing meters.



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