Maurice Ravel (151 years)

I have stated previously that Maurice Ravel is my favorite composer. On March 7 of this year it will be 151 years since his birth. Ravel was born in 1875 and passed in 1937. In my opinion Ravel was the “Mozart” of the early 20th century.

For those who have not sampled Ravel’s music I would suggest “Valses nobles et sentimentales.” There are both orchestral versions of this work (Ravel was a brilliant at orchestration) and solo piano versions including a piano performance by the composer himself.

Inspiration

Inspiration is something that I think is commonly misunderstood. Many people think that music is written when a flood of ideas comes to the writer like a thunderbolt. Once in a great while this sort of thing may happen but the old adage about inspiration being more about perspiration holds true.

Personally I have to write four pieces of music which are discarded in order to come up with one “keeper.” My favorite composer Maurice Ravel spoke at length about this process. When you listen to the Adagio from the G Major Piano Concerto the music seems to flow from an endless stream of easy inspiration yet Ravel said he struggled with this movement and it “nearly killed him.”

I am glad that listeners are not aware of this aspect of the construction of music. It is all part of the illusion that makes for the occasional magic.

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