March 7

RIPM’s “Illustrations of the Week”
Happy Birthday, Maurice Ravel!

Musikalischer Kurier, vol. 2 no. 44 (29 October 1920): [405].

French composer, pianist, and conductor Maurice Ravel was born 143 years ago today, on 7 March 1875. The musical press published a number of interesting reviews throughout the early 20th century of his then recently premiered works. Today, we pay tribute to Ravel by sharing from our archives a few of these reviews.

The Baton, vol. 7 no. 6 (April 1928): 3.

Ravel completed his famous String Quartet in F Major at the age of 28. The New York premiere of this work was reviewed in the journal, The New Music Review and Church Music Review.

The New Music Review and Church Music Review, vol. 6 no. 63 (February 1907): 173.


A 1909 painting of Ravel by Achille Ouvré
Bulletin français de la Société Internationale de Musique (S.I.M), vol. 6 no. 8 (Aug.-Sept. 1910): xxvi.


In 1912, less than one year after the piece’s premiere, Ravel’s acerbic Huit valses nobles et sentimentales was reviewed evocatively in the Bulletin français de la Société Internationale de Musique.

Monsieur Ravel will forgive us if we confess to him that his Eight valses nobles et sentimentales make us irresistibly think of some exotic fruits: we grit our teeth when we bite into it for the first time: we return by curiosity, then by pleasure, and finally we end up loving them more than all the others: we are still in the period of mistrust.

Bulletin français de la Société Internationale de Musique (S.I.M), vol. 8 no. 2 (15 February 1912): 76.

Unsurprisingly, as with this 1910 review of his Rhapsodie Espagnole below, Ravel’s harmonic language and orchestration likened comparisons to the compositions of fellow Frenchman, Claude Debussy.

The New Music Review and Church Music Review, vol. 9 no. 98 (January 1910): 86-87.


Pro-Musica Quarterly, vol. 2 no. 1 (December 1923): 4. 


While some works by Ravel were received with mixed responses, others were hailed as immediate masterpieces. One such case was Boléro. Soon after its 1928 premiere, the piece was reviewed in the American journal Modern Music by Henry Prunières, a musicologist and founder of the French music journal, La Revue musicale. 

Modern Music, vol. 6 no. 2 (January-February 1929): 37. 


The Baton, vol. 7 no. 6 (April 1928): 1.  

Again, happy birthday, Maurice!


RIPM search tip: To access the over 8,000 records related to Maurice Ravel and his works, search “Ravel” as a keyword in both the RIPM Retrospective Index to Music Periodicals with Full Text and Preservation Series: European and North American Music Periodicals!

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Posted March 7, 2018 by John Ehrenburg in category "Curios and Chronicles", "Illustration(s) of the Week