Ravel and Me








Maurice Ravel 1875-1937 with his “cigarette libératrice”
(Studio Lipnitzki)



I'd like to tell you about my quest to know more about Maurice Ravel. When I was a student at the University of Louvain (Belgium) for six years (1952-1958) studying mostly philosophy and theology, music remained a passion and my avocation . I studied Gregorian chant with Dom Suitbert Caron, Benedictine monk at Mont Cesar in Louvain (Leuven) as well as at the Gregorian Institute of Lyon in France.  But I also pursued my fascination for the music and person of Maurice Ravel.  (1875-1937). My very first recording of Ravel was a 45 rpm record of the Tombeau de Couperin by Vladamir Golschman and the St. Louis irchestra.  I wore it out.  (I had not as yet discovered Liszt - but that was a natural corollary in later years.)
 
Since I had a motorcycle and was too poor to come home in the summer during those years,  I was able to travel around (bum around?) Europe in the summer while perfecting my French.  My buddy Tom and I visited Ravel's birthplace in Ciboure near the Spanish border.  I also visited his grave (next to has brother Edouard and his parents - at the end of the Paris subway line Levalois.




 
 

Birthplace of Ravel (right) in Ciboure near the Spanish border.







Ravel's Grave in the Levalois cemetery
            

 Also there is a little park - jardin des enfants - outside the cemetery wall.)




               

            During this period  also I visited Ravel's home in Monfort l'Amoury: the "Belvedère", as Ravel had called it.








Maison de Ravel: Le Belvadère in Monfort l'Amaury as I visited it circa 1957
              


From the balcony in the real overlooking his miniature oriental garden Ravel could look out at the town and local church of Montfort l’Amaury.

            



View from the balcony of Ravel's home

By the time of my visit to Ravel’s hous in the late 1950’s it was already a museum of sorts and left exactly as it was when he was taken to the hospital for brain surgery in 1937. The elderly lady who alone was in charge of the house introduced herself  as Celeste Albaret and became quite indignant when she discovered that we didn't recognize who she was. It turned out that she had once been Proust's housekeeper and we should have known who she was.  Only years later when I studied Proust in a graduate French program did I come to realize how very well-known she was both as an author herself and because of her long relationship with Proust.  Alas for the ignorance of youth.

Only then did I learn about Céleste Albaret who was  Marcel Proust's housekeeper in his later years when he retreated from the world to devote himself to À la Recherche du Temps Perdu  (In Search of Lost Time).  Proust himself said to her, "You know everything about me." She wrote her reminiscences of her employer and presented an intimate picture of the daily life of a great writer who was also a deeply "peculiar" man.  Madame Albaret  proved to be a shrewd and engaging companion and writer (Monsieur Proust).  There was also a film about her (1981) that I have not yet seen..

So much for the ignorance of youth.  Anyway she showed us around the house,  We saw all his legendary bibelots, his piano (an Erard, if I recall correctly),  his miniature oriental garden, his balcony that looked out on the local parish church, and the Greek figures he  had  painted some of his furniture. I think I also recall some music of Liszt lying on his piano. The parish priest told me how generous Ravel had been toward the church even though he was not a practicing Catholic. (Génie oblige – “Genius has its obligations” to give back to others from the gift one has received was the motto of Franz Liszt who exemplified  this trait.) It seems that Ravel also had some of that generous lisztian spirit.

Sometime, later on, in my zeal for all things Ravelian I was determined to have a nice photograph of Ravel.  I had noted in the many books I had seen about him and books about other famous French musicians of his era at the bottom of the photos I had always seen the name:  Studio Lipnitzki.
So the next time I was in Paris I tried to find such a place.  Sure enough I found an address near the Place de l'Étoile and went there.  It was a very seedy place - upstairs as I recall.  An old man shuffled out of a back room and asked me why I had come.  I told him I would like to buy a photo of Ravel.  Well, he shuffled back into another room and eventually came out with a large dossier of photos.  He opened it and began to show me photos of Ravel -  - of a very dead Ravel lying  on a slab with a large bandage on his head in the hospital where he had undergone  brain surgery and subsequently died in 1937.  (They still took pictures of dead people as they did in Liszt’s day - gross). The old man showed me a number of such grisly photos taken after Ravel's unsuccessful surgery.  That was not quite what I was looking for.  But it did carve an image in my mind that I will take to my own grave.  Eventually the old man produced a nice photo  of a distinguished Monsieur Ravel holding   his  famous "cigarette libératrice"  - something I liked very much.  I paid the man and months later the photo arrived here at home where I treasure it to this day.

Note:  It is only recently that I have come to realize that the old man in Paris who in the mid 1960's sold me my Ravel photo in this decrepid Studio Lipnitzki  must have been the famous photographer Boris Lipnitzki himself (1887-1971).
  He was born in Odessa of Jewish origin and became famous in Paris as a portrait photographer of celebrities (Michel Simon, Sacha Guitry, Jean Cocteau, and the 10 year-old Brigitte Bardot as a danser).  He was also known for having photographed Ravel "sur son lit de mort" (on his deathbead - in this case, after his failed brain surgery in the hospital). These were the rather gastly photos the old man first showed me.  The photo I eventually chose to  purchase (above) was but one of many portraits of Ravel I saw as he filed through his dossier and for me it was the nicest. I have not seen it elsewhere.

There is an excellent biography of Ravel by Arbie Orenstein. (Ravel: Man and Musician, New York: Columbia University Press, 1975)  He is a professor at Queens College in New York and the world's leading authoiry on Ravel.  He has subsequently published "A Ravel Reader" that gives us much more as a reseult of his yeasr of reaearch.  We had dinner with him around 1974 while his book was in preparation and he told us a story of how he had uncovered some lost and/or previously unknown works by Ravel.  Maybe you know this story already.
 
If I have it right, it seems that when Ravel died 1937 - a bachelor - his entire estate went to his bachelor brother Edouard. When he in turn died the entire estate was left to his masseur, Monsieur Alexandre Taverne and subsequently his wife.  There were lawsuits by distance relatives; but to no avail.  Dr. Orenstein managed to interview the widow Taverne before she died and during this interview she casually mentioned (a biographer's dream come true) "By the way, there's an old trunk upstairs........"   Well, upon opening this trunk Professor Ornestein discovered a number of previously unpublished and lost works.
 
They were premièred at Queens College by Professor Orenstein and a number of his colleagues.  Kathleen and I were fortunate to attend this hostoric event.   The concert was recorded and can be found on  the Musical Heritage label:  (MHS 3581)
 
1. Sérénade Grotesque (world première)

2. Four songs (world première)

    - Ballade de  la Reine morte d'aimer
    - Chanson de Rouet
    - Si Morne
    - Chanson écossaise

3. Sites Auriculaires (2 pianos four hands)

    - Habanera  (previous known from the orchestral Rhapsodie Espagnole)
     -Entre Cloches (new discovery)
        
4. Frontispice (2 pianos - 5 hands) how unusual to see a fifth hand at work

5. Sonata for violin and piano in one movement (previously unknown)

Altogether with these and other finds Professor Orenstein was able to amass over 1700 pages of lost and previously unknown material.

It is generally considered that Ravel never wrote a bad piece.  Often compared to Swiss clock maker every work of his is a finely cut gem. It is no wonder that his work is so accessible and thrives today in recording and live performance.

"Ma seule maîtresse c’est la musique."
  "My only mistress is my music."

Vive Maurice Ravel

 Note: see also   Arbie Orenstein, A Ravel Reader: Correspondence, Articles, Interviews, Dover Books,

***************************************************************
Some interesting Ravel photos and web sites:

Ravel home in Montfort l'Amaury


http://www.cg78.fr/culturel/musees/dossier/index_dossier.asp?Id=459

Salabert Edtions and more

http://www.durand-salabert-eschig.com/formcat/patrimoine/RAVEL_1997.pdf

More photos of Ravel

http://www.musicologie.org/Biographies/ravel_maurice.html

Critiques sur Ravel (in French)

http://le-cygne-de-ravel.com/CS.html

Quotes about Ravel (in French)

http://le-cygne-de-ravel.com/Pol.html

*****************************************************************

My Collection of Ravel recordings

Piano Concerto in G (1931)

    LP Recordings:

    - Leonard Bernstein            Columbia ML 5338
    - Michelangeli                      Angel 35567
    - Hollander                           RCA LM 2667
    - Perlemuter                         Vox Box 410
    

CD Recordings:

- Simon- Louis de Fromont        Vox Box CDZ 5031

Piano Concerto for the Left Hand (1931)

    LP recordings

    - Browning                        Cap P8545
    - Perlmuter                        Vox Box 410
    - Cortot/Munch 1939        Rogers&Hamerstein Cassette

    CD Recording

    - Abbey Simon                Vox CD

Gaspard de la Nuit (1908)

     LP recordings

    - Gieseking                    Columbia ML 4773
    - François
    - Perlemuter                    Vox Box 410
    - Ravel                            Arc X 912
    - Monique Haas                MHS 1085
    

    CD recordings

    - Hsu
    - Forte                    Connoisseur  4226
    - Tryon                    APR 5593

Jeu d’Eaux (1901)

    LP Recordings

    - Kushner                Pius X tape
    - Perlemuter            Vox Box 410
    - Pennario                Cap P 8533
    - Haas                       MHS 1084

    CD recordings

-    Hsu
-    Forte                    Connoisseur 4226    
-    Tryon                    APR 5593

Pavane (1899)

    LP Recordings

    - Ravel                        ARC X 912
    - Perlemuter                Vox Box 410
    - Pennario                    Cap. P 8533
    - Casadessus                Phil ABL 3012
    - Rosenthal (orch)        West. XWN 3309
    - Ravel                        Turn TV 4256
    - Haas                         MHS 1084
    - Ravel                        Everest 3403


    CD Recordings

    - Ensemble Wies-Berlin (orch)        DGG
    - Ormandy    (orch)                           CBS
    - Forte                                                Connoisseur
    - Skrowaczewski (orch)                    Vox Box
    - Tryon                                               APR 5593
    - Inbal-Orch Nat. de France             Denon CD

Prelude in A (1913)

    LP Recordings

    - Casadessus                Col. ML 4520
    - Haas                            MHS 1086

    CD Recordings

    - Tryon                    APR 5593

Miroirs (complete) (1905)

    LP Recordings                

    - Perlmuter            Vox Box 410
    - Haas                    MHS 1084

    CD Recording                

    - Forte                    Conousseur CD 4226
    - Tryon                    APR 5593

From « Miroirs »


Alborada Del Gracioso (« Miroirs »)

    LP Recordings

    - Dervaux (orch)            Com  CC 33-11005
    - Rosenthal                    West XWN  3309
                        

     CD Recordings
    
    - Skrowaczewski                Vox Box
    - Bernstein                         CBS
    - Hsu                                    CD
    - Tryon                                APR
    
La Vallée des Cloches (« Miroirs »)         

    LP Recordings

    - Ravel                     ARC X 912
    - Ravel                     Turn TV 4256
    - Ravel                    Everest 3403

Oiseaux Tristes (« Miroirs »)

    LP Recordings

    - Ravel                    ARC    X 912

    CD Recordings

    - Hsu                        CD
    - Tryon                       APR

Une Barque sur l’Océan («Miroirs »)

    LP Recordings

    -

    CD Recordings

    - Hsu                                            CD
    - Muti                                           EMI CDC 5 44120-2
    - Minnesota Orch                        Vox CD
    - Inbal-Orch Nat.de France        Denon CD
    -  Tryon                                        APR

Le Tombeau de Couperin (1917)

    LP Recordings

    - Casadessus                           Col ML 4520
    - Ravel (Toccata only)            Arc X 912
    - Perlemuter                            Vox Box 410
    - Pennario                                Capital P. 8533
    - Rosenthal (orch)                 West XWN 3309
    - Golshmann                            7 “ disk
    - Haaa                                     MHS 1086
    - Ravel (selections)                Everest 3403

    CD Recordings

    - Ormandy    (Rigaudon)            CBS - CD
    - Minnesota Orch                        Vox CD
    - Tryon (piano)                            APR 5594
    - Inbal-Orch. Nat, de France        Denon CD
    

Valses Nobles et Sentimentales (1911)

    LP Recordings

    - Casadessus                        Col. ML 4520
    - Ravel                                  Welte 8-35
    - Perlemuter                          Vox Box 410
    - Rosenthal (orch)                West XWN 3309
    - Haas                                    MHS 1086

    CD Recordings

    - Skrowaczewski    (orch)            Vox Box CD
    - Tryon                                        APR 5594
    - Hui-Lin                                     Weill Recital Hall

La Valse (1919-20)

    LP Recordings

    - Dervaux (orch)                Command CC 33-11005
    - Rosenthal (orch)                West XWN 3309


    CD Recordings

    -  Berlin Radio (orch)                Laserlight 14013
    - Ormandy/Philadelphia             CBS
    - Minnesota orch                        Vox CD
    - Tryon                                        APR 5594
    -  Forte (2 pianos)

Minuet sur le Nom d’Haydn (1909)

    LP Recordings

    - Casadessus                Col. ML 4520
    - Perlemuter                    Vox Box 410
    - Haas                            MHS 1085

    CD Recording

    - Tryon                    APR 5593

Minuet Antique (1895)

    LP Recordings

    - Perlemuter                        Vox Box 510
    - Rosenthal (orch)                Wext XWN 3309
    - Haas                                    MHS 1084

    CD Recordings                

    - Skrowaczewski (orch)            Vox Box CD
    - Tryon                                        APR 5594

Sonatine (1905)

    LP Recordings

    - Ravel (Movements 1 and 2)        Welte 6633
    - Pennario                                        Cap. P 8533
    - Casadessus                                    Phil ABL 3012
    - Perlemuter                                    Vox Box 410
     - Haas                                            MHS 1085

CD Recordings

- Forte                            Connoisseur CD 4226
- Tryon                            APR 5593

A la Manirère de Borodin3 (1913)

    LP Recordings

    - Casadessus            Phil ABL 3020
    - Haas                        MHS 1086

    CD Recording

    - Tryon                    APR 5594

A la Manière de Chabrier (1913)

    LP Recording

    - Casadessus        Phil ABL 3020
    - Haas                    MHS 1086

    CD Recording
    
    - Tryon                    APR 5594


Mother Goose Suite (1908)

    LP Recordings

    - Rosenthal (orch)                West XWN 3309
    - Giulini (orch)                      Angel 35462
    - Ferrante-Teicher                West XWN 19219
    - Haas- Marika                    MHS 1085

    CD Recordings

    - De Fromier-Luxembourg        Laserlight CD
    - Minnesota Orch                        Vox Box CD
    - Fromentin-Plancade                EMI – Classics
    - Inbal-Orch Nat. de France        Denon CD

Pièece en Forme de Habanera (1907)
    (Vocalise)

    LP Recordings

    - Almeida (flute-guitar)            Cap P 8406
    - Jennie Tourel (vocal)            Col. ML 4158
    - Franciscatti (violin)            Col. ML 5058
    - Jennie Tourel (vocal            Rogers & Hamerstein

Trois Chansons for Chorus (1915)

LP Recordings

    - Shaw                    RCA LSC 2676
    - Alarie                    West XWN 18789

    CD Recordings

    - Shaw                    Telarc 80408

Histoires Naturelles (1907)

    LP Recordings

    - Bernac-Poulenc      Col. ML 4333
    - Alarie                    West XWN 18789
    - Souzay                    Phillips cassette

Five Popular Greek Songs (1907)

    LP Recordings

    - De Los Angeles    Angel 36105
    - Alarie                    West XWN 18789
    - Souzay                    Pathé FALA 549
    - Souzay                    Phillips cassette

Shéherazade Song Cycle (1903)

    LP Recordings

    - De Los Angeles    Angel 36105
    - Danco                    London LL 1196

    CD Recordings

    - Pasino (Berlin Phil)            Laserlight CD

Deux Mélodies Hébraiques (1914)
    (Kaddish-L’Énigme Èternelle)

LP Recordings

- Danco                    London LL 1196
- Bernac                    Col. ML 4333
- Souzay                    Pathé FALA 549
- De Los Angeles    Angel 36106
- Norman                    Phillips 9500-356
- Franciscatti (Violin) Kaddish    Col. ML 4048

CD Recordings

- Bartoli                    CD

Majerke (Hebrew Song) (1910)
    
LP Recordings

- Bernac                    Col. ML 5333
- Souzay                    Pathé FALP 549

CD Recordings

- Bartoli                    CD

Three Songs of Stephane Mallarmé (1913)

    (Soupir-Placet futile- Surgi de la croupe)

    LP Recordings

    - Susanne Danco                Lomdon LL 12196

    CD Recordings

    - Walker- Nash Ensemble            Virgin Classics


Tripatos (Greek song) (1909)

    LP Recordings

    - Bartoli                    DGG

Trois Chants Polulaires (1910)

-    chanson espagnole
-    chanson française
-    chanson italienne

LP Recordings

- Pierette Alarie                West XWN 18789

CD Recordings

- Bartoli                    CD

Chanson Écossaise (1910)            

    LP Recording

    - Schunbrun-Orenstein            MHS 3581

    CD Recording

Trois Chansons Madécasses (1925-26)
-    Nabandove
-    Aoua
-    Il est doux

    LP Recording

    - Souzay    (orch)                Pathé FALP 549
    - Ravel-Gray                    Turn TV 4258
    - Souzay    (piano)                Phillips cassette

    CD Recordings

    - Sarah Walker-Nash Ensemble       Virgin Classics  7243-5-61427-2-5


Don Quichotte à Dulcinée (1932)

    Chanson romantique
    Chanson épique
    Chanson à boire

    LP Recordings
    
    - Souzay-Abravanel                COL. ML 4252
    - Souzay                                    Pathé FALP 549
    - Singher-Coppela                    R & H cassette
    - Souzay-Baldwin                    Phil cassette

    CD Recording        

    -                            Erato ECD 75318

Deux épigrammes de clement Marot (1898)

-    D’Anne qui me jecta dans la neige
-    D’Anne jouant de l’espinette

LP Recordings

- Souzay (orch)                    Pathé FALP 549
- Tate – Moore                    Cassette
- Souzay-Baldwin                    Phillips  cassette
- Morcoulescu                    Orion OR578312

CD Recordings

Noel des Jouets (1905)

    LP Recordings

    - Alarie                        West XWN 18789
    - Morcoulescou                    Orion OR 578312

La Sainte (1896)

    LP Recording

    - Pierette Alarie                    West XWN 18789

Sur l’Herbe (1907)

    LP Recoridng

    - Morcoulescu                    Orion OR 578312

Ronsard à son âme (1923-24)

    LP Recording

    - Souzay                        Pathé FALP 549
    - Morcoulescou                    Orien OR 578312

Sérénade Grotesque (1893)

LP Recording

- Orenstein                        MHS 3581

CD Recording

- Tryon                        APR 5594

Chanson de Rouet (1898)

    LP Recording

    - Morcoulescu                    Orion OP 578312
    -  Schonbrun                    MHS 3581

Rêves (1927)

    LP Recording

    - Morcoulescu                    Orien OR 578312

Two Songs :

    Ballade de la Reine morte d’aimer (1893)
    Si Morne (1898)

    LP Recording

    - Schonbrun                        MHS 3581

Two Songs :

    Manteau des Fleurs (1903)
    Les Grand Vents d’Outre Mer (1907)

    LP Recording

    - Morcoulescu                    Orion ORS 78312

Berceuse sur le Nom de Fauré (1922)

    LP Recording

    - Franciscatti                    Col. ML 5058
    - Kantorow-Rouvier                MHS 3174

Violin Sonata in 3 movements (1923-27)

    LP Recording

    - Franciscatti                    Col. ML 5058
    - Bonaldi-Billier                    MHS 1235
    - Kantorow-Rouvier                MHS 3174

Violin Sonata in One Movement ((1897)

    LP Recording

    - Tarack                        MHS 3581

Tzigane (1924)

    LP Recording

    - Franciscatti                    Col. ML 5058
    - Neveu                        cassette
    - Kantorow-Rouvier                MHS 3174

Introduction and Allegro (1905-06)

    LP Recording

    - Granjany                        Cap. P 8492
    - Vito                            Per. Show. SPL 301
    - Hebert                        MHS 1280
    - Melos Ensemble        Angel S-1 36586

    CD Recordings

    - Ensemble Wien-Berlin                BBG CD

String Quartet (1902-03)

    LP Recordings

    - Budapest                        Col. ML 5245
    - Curtis                            West WN 18049
    - Carmirelli                        London CM 9251
    - Parrenin                        MHS 1280

    CD Recordings

    - New Hungarian                    Vox Box CD

Trio (1914)

    LP Recordings

    - Le Trinome                    Bam LD 059
    - Paquier                        Haydn HSL 149
    - Menhuin                        Angel 35630
    - Beaux Arts                        MGM E 3455
    - Bolzano                        West WST 17063
    - Bonaldi-Billier                    MHS 1235

    CD Recordings

Rhapsodie Espagnole (1907)

    LP Recordings

    - Rosenthal                        West XWN 3309
    
    CD Recordings

    - Bernstein (Feria only)                CBS –CD
    - Skrowaczewski                    Vox Box CD

Boléro (1928)

    LP Recordings:

    - Rosenthal                        West XWN 3308
    - Ravel-Lamoureux        Turnabout TV 4256
    - anon                            Festival of Light

    CD Recordings

    - de Burgos                        EMI- CD
    - Bernstein                        CBS – CD
    - Skrowaczewski                Vox Box CD

L’Enfant et les Soritilèges (1920-25)

    LP Recordings

    - R.T.F.                        Pathé FLX 30030
    - Ansermet                        Lon. A-4105
    - Maazel                        DGG – LPM 18675

    CD recording

    - Maazel                        DDG

L’Heure Espagnole (1907)

    LP Recordings:

    - Cluytins                        Angel 35-18
    - Leibowitz                        Box OPX 150

    CD Recording

    -                             Erato recording

Daphnis et Chloé (1909-1912)

    LP Recordings

    - Rosenthal                  West XWN 3309
    - Munch                        RCA LSC 2568
    - Dervaux                    Com.CC 33-11005
    - Prêtre                        Readers Digest
    -

    CD Recordings:

    - Budapest Radio                    Laserlight CD
    - Minnestota Orch                    Vox Bos CD

Fanfare from “L’Éventail de Jeanne”    (1927)

    LP Recording
    
    - Stokowski-Hilversum                London SPC 21061

    CD Recording

    - Minnesota Orch                            Vox Box CD    
    - Inbal-Nat. Orch de France            Denon CD

Duo Sonata for Violin and Cello    (1920-22)

    LP Recording

    CD Recording
    
- NASH Ensemble                    Virgin Classics

Frontispice (1918) (for 2 pianos-5 hands)            
    
    LP Recording

    - Pirone-Sullivan-Rothgarber            MHS 3581

Sites Auriculaires (1995-97) for 2 pianos

    Habanera and Entre Cloches

    LP Recording

    - Pirone-Sullivan                    MHS 3581

Three Cantatas for the Prix de Rome

    Myrrah    (1901)
    Alcyone  (1902)
    Alyssa     (1903)

           CD Recording

    - Michel Plasson-Toulouse            EMI-CD



    


    












    




                                            
                
    

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