William Sterling

Maurice Ravel

Unravelling Ravel

A study of his life and music and that of his contemporaries. Maurice Ravel was a very private man who wrote some of the best-loved music of the twentieth century although he always dismissed Bolero as merely an academic exercise – but then he never saw Torvill and Dean. Works studied include Pavane pour une infante defunte; String Quartet in F; Introduction et allegro; L’heure espagnole; Rapsodie espagnole; Gaspard de la nuit; Daphnis et Chloe; Ma mere l’oye; Le tombeau de Couperin; L’enfant et les sortileges; La valse; Piano Concerto for the left hand; Piano Concerto in G.  I was able to secure enough copies of the score of Bolero for each member of the class to have one to follow so that I could use it in a score reading exercise.  As the tunes are so well-known and repeated so often and the pace is very steady it is relatively easy to follow and to pick up if you get lost if you know which instrument to listen out for.

I ran this course on behalf of the original tutor who had to withdraw at the last moment at Crayford Manor (Bexley College) January-March 1998.  I used it as the basis for talks on Ravel at the DfE Music Society in February 2002, the HSE European Society in March 2009 and at the City Lit in October 2009 again substituting for the original tutor.  It was advertised to run again at Crayford Manor in 2009 but was a victim of the recession.

Ravel Chronology

Below is a copy of the spreadsheet I created for these courses.

Ravel life and works