Maurice Ravel (1875–1937) was a 20th century French composer. Ravel was one of the most complex of all composers. He was anti-Wagnerian, Impressionist and Neoclassicist all rolled into one.
Life and Music
His Basque roots gave him a special affinity with Spanish colours and rhythms.
His acute ability to re-engage sensations and memories from childhood resulted in music of playful innocence and unalloyed purity.
Although Ravel was by no means a prodigy in the Mendelssohn mould, by the time he was 14 he had won a place at the Paris Conservatoire.
It was not until 1895 that his first work hit the printing presses: the indelible Menuet Antique.
Two years later he began studying with Gabriel Faure, yet although the latter was a most sympathetic teacher, Ravel's unorthodox style soon put him on a collision course with the notoriously conservative Director, Théodore Dubois.
Just as Ravel was at the height of his powers and popularity, the outbreak of the First World War caused him such deep distress that a number of important projects never came to fruition.
Following a successful American tour in 1928 and an honorary doctorate from Oxford University, Ravel emerged in a final blaze of glory with the two piano concertos and his final completed work, Don Quichotte a Dulcinee.
The remainder of his life was plagued by a malfunction of the brain caused by Pick's disease which increasingly affected his speech and motoric impulses.
After a final, unsuccessful operation in 1937, Maurice Ravel, France's most celebrated contemporary composer, passed away.
Did you know?
Ravel is probably most famous for his Boléro, which was used by skaters Torvill and Dean as the piece of music for their gold-medal winning ice dance at the Olympic Games in 1984.