Maurice Ravel

1875-1937 Born in Ciboure, France, in 1875, Maurice Ravel was an outstanding figure in modern French music. The family moved to Paris when he was 3 months old and he began his musical studies at the age of 7. In 1899, he entered the Paris Conservatory where he studied composition under Gabriel Faure¢. Also in1899, he won recognition for his Pavane for a Dead Princess. Around 1902, he joined an avant-garde group of artists, writers and musicians who met, discussed ideas and collaborated on projects. Impressionistic compositions from this period include the piano suite Gaspard of the Night (1908), Spanish Rhapsody, for orchestra (1908) and the ballet Daphnis et Chloé; (1912) After World War 1, in which he saw active service, his works included the choreographic poem, La Valse (1920), the opera The Child and the Enchantments (1925), and Boléro (1928), originally intended as a ballet. In 1921, he was awarded the Légion d'Honneur. Unfortunately, the award was announced publicly before Ravel himself had been informed and he declined to accept it. In 1928, Ravel took a four-month tour of the United States where his concerts and piano recitals received an enthusiastic reception. During this trip he met George Gershwin, whose work he much admired. One of Ravel's last major works was the Piano Concerto in D, for the left hand (1931), written for the Viennese pianist Paul Wittgenstein (1887-1961), who had lost his right arm in World War. Stricken with a neurological disorder in 1932, Ravel died in Paris in 1937.