The Cambridge Companion to Ravel
This Companion provides a comprehensive introduction to the life, music and compositional aesthetic of French composer Maurice Ravel (1875-1937). Leading international scholars offer a powerful reassessment of this most private and elusive musician, examining his work in detail within its cultural context. Supported by many music examples, the volume explores the full range of Ravel's work - piano repertory, chamber works, orchestral music, ballets, songs and operas - and makes illuminating comparisons with the music of Couperin, Gounod, Chabrier and Debussy. The essays present the latest research focusing on topics such as Ravel's exoticism and Spanishness and conclude by analysing the performance and reception of his music, including previously untranslated reviews. Marking the 125th anniversary of Ravel's birth, the Companion as a whole aims to secure a solid foundation for Ravel studies in the twenty-first century and will appeal to all enthusiasts and students of his music.
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This new biography of Maurice Ravel (1875-1937), by one of the leading scholars of nineteenth- and twentieth-century French music, is based on a wealth of written and oral evidence, some newly translated and some derived from interviews with the composer's friends and associates. As well as describing the circumstances in which Ravel composed, the book explores new evidence to present radical views of the composer's background and upbringing, his notorious failure in the Prix de Rome, his incisive and often combative character, his sexual preferences, and his long final illness. It also contains the most detailed account so far published of his hugely successful American tour of 1928. The world of Maurice Ravel-including friendships (and some fallings-out) with Debussy, Faure, Diaghilev, Gershwin, and Toscanini-is deftly uncovered in this sensitive portrait.
Ravel the decadent memory, sublimation, and desire
The music of Maurice Ravel (1875-1937), beloved by musicians and audiences since its debut, has always proven itself a difficult topic for scholars. The traditional stylistic categories of impressionism, symbolism, and neoclassicism, while relevant, have offered too little purchase on his fascinating but enigmatic work. Ravel the Decadent provides an innovative and productive solution by locating the aesthetic origins of this music in the French Decadence and demonstrating the extension of this influence across the length of his oeuvre. While there are many Decadent topics, this book selects three-memory, sublimation, and desire-and uses them not only to delineate the content of this music, pinpoint its overlap with contemporary cultural discourse, and link it to its biographical context, but also to create new methods altogether for the analysis and interpretation of music. Ravel the Decadent opens by defining the main concepts, giving particular attention to memory and decadence. It then stakes out contrasting modes of memory in this music: a nostalgic mode that views the past as forever lost, and a more optimistic mode that imagines its resurrection and reanimation.
It acknowledges Ravel's lifelong identity as a dandy-a figure that embodies the Decadence and its aspiration toward the sublime-and identifies possible moments of musical self-portraiture before stepping back to theorize dandyism in European musical modernism at large. It then addresses the dialectic between desire and its sublimation in the pairing of two genres-the bacchanal and the idyll-and leverages the central trio of concepts to offer provocative readings of the two waltz sets, the Valses nobles et sentimentales and La valse. It concludes by invoking the same terms to identify a topic of "faun music" that promises to create new common ground between Ravel and Debussy. Rife with close readings that will satisfy the musicologist, the book also suits a more general reader through its broadly humanistic key concepts, immersion in contemporary art and literature, and clear, direct language.
Unmasking Ravel: New Perspectives on the Music fills a unique place in Ravel studies by combining critical interpretation and analytical focus. From the premiere of his works up to the present, Ravel has been associated with masks and the related notions of artifice and imposture. This has led scholars to perceive a lack of depth in his music and, consequently, to discourage investigation of his musical language. This volume balances and interweaves these modes of inquiry. Part 1, "Orientations and Influences," illuminates the sometimes contradictory aesthetic, biographical, and literary strands comprising Ravel's artistry and our understanding of it. Part 2, "Analytical Case Studies," engages representative works from Ravel's major genres using a variety of methodologies, focusing on structural process and his complex relation to stylistic convention. Part 3, "Interdisciplinary Studies," integrates musical analysis and art criticism, semiotics, and psychoanalysis in creating novel methodologies.
Contributors include prominent scholars of Ravel's and fin-de-siecle music: Elliott Antokoletz, Gurminder Bhogal, Sigrun B. Heinzelmann, Volker Helbing, Steven Huebner, Peter Kaminsky, Barbara Kelly, David Korevaar, Daphne Leong, Michael Puri, and Lauri Suurpaa.
Peter Kaminsky is Professor of Music at the University of Connecticut, Storrs.
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The Operas of Maurice Ravel
Maurice Ravel's operas L'Heure espagnole (1907/1911) and L'Enfant et les sortileges (1919-25) are pivotal works in the composer's relatively small Ã·uvre. Emerging from periods shaped by very distinct musical concerns and historical circumstances, these two vastly different works nevertheless share qualities that reveal the heart of Ravel's compositional aesthetic. In this comprehensive study, Emily Kilpatrick unites musical, literary, biographical and cultural perspectives to shed new light on Ravel's operas. In documenting the operas' history, setting them within the cultural canvas of their creation and pursuing diverse strands of analytical and thematic exploration, Kilpatrick reveals crucial aspects of the composer's working life: his approach to creative collaboration, his responsiveness to cultural, aesthetic and musical debate, and the centrality of language and literature in his compositional practice. The first study of its kind, this book is an invaluable resource for students, specialists, opera-goers and devotees of French music.
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Irony and Sound
What is it about Bolero, Gaspard de la nuit, and Daphnis et Chloe that makes musicians and listeners alike love them so?
Stephen Zank here illuminates these and other works of Maurice Ravel through several of the composer's fascinations: dynamic intensification, counterpoint, orchestration, exotic influences on Western music, and an interest in multisensorial perception.
Connecting all these fascinations, Zank argues, is irony. His book offers an appreciation of Ravel's musical irony that is grounded in the vocabularies and criticism of the time and in two early attempts at writing up a "Ravel Aesthetic" by intimates of Ravel.
Thomas Mann called irony the phenomenon that is, "beyond compare, the most profound and most alluring in the world." Irony and Sound, written with insight and flair, provides a long-needed reconsideration of Ravel's modernity, his teaching, and his place in twentieth-century music and culture.
Musicologist Stephen Zank has taught at University of Illinois, University of North Texas, and University of Rochester. He is the author of Maurice Ravel: A Guide to Research.
The Ballets of Maurice Ravel
Maurice Ravel, as composer and scenario writer, collaborated with some of the greatest ballet directors, choreographers, designers and dancers of his time, including Diaghilev, Ida Rubinstein, Benois and Nijinsky. In this book, the first study dedicated to Ravel's ballets, Deborah Mawer explores these relationships and argues that ballet music should not be regarded in isolation from its associated arts. Indeed, Ravel's views on ballet and other stage works privilege a synthesized aesthetic. The first chapter establishes a historical and critical context for Ravel's scores, engaging en route with multimedia theory. Six main ballets from Daphnis et Chloe through to Bolero are considered holistically alongside themes such as childhood fantasy, waltzing and neoclassicism. Each work is examined in terms of its evolution, premiere, critical reception and reinterpretation through to the present; new findings result from primary-source research, undertaken especially in Paris. The final chapter discusses the reasons for Ravel's collaborations and the strengths and weaknesses of his interpersonal relations. Mawer emphasizes the importance of the performative dimension in realizing Ravel's achievement, and proposes that the composer's large-scale oeuvre can, in a sense, be viewed as a balletic undertaking. In so doing, this book adds significantly to current research interest in artistic production and interplay in early twentieth-century Paris.
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Demonstrating the vibrant nature of current research on Maurice Ravel, one of the most significant figures in twentieth-century French music, a team of distinguished international scholars provides new interdisciplinary perspectives and insights. Through historical, critical, and analytical means, the volume reveals the symbiotic relationships between Ravel's music and aesthetic, cultural, literary, gender, performance-based, and medical studies. While the chapters progress from French aesthetic-literary association, including Colette and Proust, to more extended disciplinary couplings, with American history, jazz, dance, and neurology, the organization is relatively free to enable other thematic links to emerge. The volume presents a refreshing variety of scholarly approaches to Ravel and his music, set within broad contexts and current musicological debates. In a Ravelian spirit, it is intended that the essays will serve collectively as a model for expanding the agendas of other composer-based studies.
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