Notes & Reviews:
These informative programs are a concise overview of the composer's life and times, filmed on location in the cities and places that influenced their works. Also included is a detailed list of each composer's most significant musical compositions.
Ravel was a major force in the history of 20th-century music. He studied at the Paris Conservatoire, where his most influential teacher was the French composer Gabriel Faure.
Because of the tonal color, harmonies, mood and extra-musical associations of much of his music, Ravel is often associated with the French impressionistic composer Claude Debussy. Unlike Debussy, however, he was strongly attracted to abstract, logical musical structures. His vivid, transparent orchestral colors rank him as one of the modern masters of orchestration.
Ravel's impressionistic leanings are uppermost in the demanding piano suites Miroirs (1905) and Gaspard de la Nuit (1908) and in Rhapsodie Espagnole, for orchestra (1908).
His stage works include the operas L'heure Espagnole (1911) and L'enfant et les Sortileges (1925).
Ravel's last major work was the Piano Concerto in D (1931), for the left hand, written for the Viennese pianist Paul Wittgenstein (1887-1961), who had lost his right arm in World War I.