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Maurice Ravel

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Biography

A French composer known for melodic and tonal invention. Giving the lie to the idea that turn-of-the-century musical trends were necessarily elite impressionism or "decadent" (whatever that may mean), Ravel's music always speaks directly to the heart in a subtle rhythmic sense through great melody, harmonic richness, and iridescent orchestration. (The art of stacking partials in Ravel's Boléro and in the work of Ives predate harmonic synthesis in electronic music by half a century.) Ravel's ballet Daphnis et Chloé, with its gently sustained, wordless vocal chorus amidst heaven-on-earth sound-painting, is probably the finest synthesis of his aesthetic. Ravel's melodic abilities and method of making subtle timbre changes by harmonic shift (rather than loud/soft articulation) are beautifully amplified in his piano works, including the famous Sonatine, Gaspard de la Nuit, and in Concerto for Piano (for the left hand in D), which also contain some of his most advanced harmonic writing. The expansive La valse shows a more extroverted Ravel, with much of the same fine orchestral composition. The Quartet in F, with its rich, earthy melodies, shows perhaps a more intimate side of Ravel.

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Birth Name:

Joseph Maurice Ravel

Born:

07 March 1875 in Ciboure, Basses-Pyrénées, France

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Years Active:

'/0s, '00s, '10s, '20s, '30s

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