Lived 1875 – 1937
Mostly in Paris
Best Known for Boléro, Daphnis et Chloé, Ma Mére L’Oye, Piano Concertos, La Valse, Gaspard de la Nuit.
Similar to Debussy
“My only mistress is music”
Ravel’s declaration of absolute fidelity to his art must be a paramount consideration in any discussion of any aspect of his creativity or his personality – not just his sexuality, favourite subject for speculation though that is. Music was his life, his passion, and nothing would induce him to sell it short by producing a score of less than complete integrity and less than perfect finish. There is scarcely one Ravel work that is not wholly comprehensible in musical terms or that requires reference to external circumstances to explain it. Do we learn anything from the notion, quoted with apparent approval by Alex Ross in The Rest is Noise, that the Toccata of Le Tombeau de Couperin“is meant to suggest the twisting motion of a fighter plane”? I think not.
That sort of thing is harmless, however, in comparison with the damage that can be caused to our perception of Ravel’s music by subjecting it to pathological examination. Recently, much clinical...