Ravel, Maurice

1875 - 1937

One of the most original French composers, famous for his technical mastery of compositions.

Ravel was born near Biarritz, part of the French Basque region. His mother was Basque, while his father was a Swiss inventor and industrialist. He studied in Paris and wrote two operas, and a ballet commissioned by the Russian impresario Dyagilev.

Ravel's last ballet score was the famous "Bolero", a work he described as an orchestrated crescendo.

He also wrotel an evocative Rapsodie espagnole. Other orchestrations of original piano compositions include a version of "Pavane pour une infante defunte", the "Menuet antique", "Alborada del gracioso" and pieces from "Le tombeau de Couperin".

Besides two piano concertos, he wrote songs including "Sheherazade" and chamber music, while "Tzigane", written for the Hungarian violinist Jelly d'Aranyi, is a remarkable excursion into extravagant gypsy style.


Satie, Eric

1866 - 1925

French composer whose spare, unconvential, often witty music represents a first break with 19th cent.French Romanticism.

He was an organist at the Paris Conservatory., and later became a regular at Le Chat Noir cabaret.

Among the several works he composed were "Trois Preludes du Fils des etoiles", le "Sonneries de la Rose-Croix".

In these first works Satie was already using a freehand style with no bar lines, arranged chromatically around complex chord structures, that foreshadowed Debussy's harmonic and timbre experiments.

In 1910 his music attracted the attention of Diaghilev, Picasso, Ravel, Stravinsky and finally Cocteau with whom he became co-founder of the Les Six group.

In 1917 fame came with "Parade" by Jean Cocteau and Picasso for the Russian Ballet. Satie's music introduced the first European rag-time and Apollinaire was so enthusiastic he coined the term surrealism.

In Zurich, the Dadaists made Satie an honorary member of their movement. A seconf ballet followed and film music for Rene Clair. The piece that best represents Satie's spiritual legacy is "Socrate", a cantata for four sopranos and chamber orchestra, a work that would have a profound influence on Stravinsky.

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