Maurice Ravel (March 7, 1875 – December 28, 1937)
Growing up, there was one piece of music that I was absolutely wild for - Bolero. I must have driven my family nuts with endless repeats, no wonder I was given a Walkman with headphones for my thirteenth birthday come to think of it. It was where my love of music began.
Ravel's music has become a major part of the central repertoire and his skills in orchestration have seen works like Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition reach new audiences and gain in popularity. His songs are exercises in exoticism and he paints a headily impressionistic picture with all of his work, Scheherazade and the ballet Daphnis et Chloe are prime examples and some of my favourite music.
Bolero itself is one of the most popular pieces of classical music and apparently the most expensive in terms of performance royalties. According to an article in the Guardian dated Wednesday 25 April 2001, it is 'played somewhere in the world every 15 minutes' link.
Influenced by the then new idiom of Jazz his Piano Concerto in G Major met with great success as did the Piano Concerto in D for the Left hand. Both are now in the major concert repertoire.
As a musical tribute to this marvellously inventive composer on his birthday here is Marilyn Horne and Leonard Bernstein in a performance of Sheherazade. A beautiful way to end the working week.