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Topic: OT: Ravel didn't write any symphonies?

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  1. #1

    OT: Ravel didn't write any symphonies?

    I'm writing a program leaflet for a concert and I noticed that Maurice Ravel didn't write any symphonies. Is it really so? I thought that it was a must for a 19th and 20th century composer to write symphonies to be recognized as a great composer. Is there a reason why Ravel didn't write any?

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    Re: OT: Ravel didn't write any symphonies?

    <<Maurice Ravel didn't write any symphonies. Is it really so?>>

    it's really so, he didn't write any symphonies

    <<Is there a reason why Ravel didn't write any?>>

    He was too busy orchestrating his piano works... He really liked to orchestrate...

  3. #3

    Re: OT: Ravel didn't write any symphonies?

    There are plenty of great composers who didn't write any symphonies. Besides Ravel, there are Debussy, Faure, Verdi, Respighi, Mussorgsky, and probably several others I'll think of as soon as I log off.

    Ravel's music is deeply influenced by Impressionism, which depends on a quality of spontinaety for its effect. I doubt that he would have found the symphonic form very conducive to his kind of thinking.
    Dan Powers
    www.danielpowers.info

    "It's easier to be a composer than it is to compose."
    --Ray Luke (1928-2010)

  4. #4

    Re: OT: Ravel didn't write any symphonies?

    Quote Originally Posted by danpowers
    There are plenty of great composers who didn't write any symphonies. Besides Ravel, there are Debussy, Faure, Verdi, Respighi, Mussorgsky, and probably several others I'll think of as soon as I log off.

    Ravel's music is deeply influenced by Impressionism, which depends on a quality of spontinaety for its effect. I doubt that he would have found the symphonic form very conducive to his kind of thinking.
    Yes I'm aware that there are others but Ravel has stated that very formal and traditional composers like Mozart have affected his composing and he didn't go straight to impressionistic style so I had just assumed that he would have composed symphonies. It's a plausible explanation that the form of a classical symphony didn't fit impressionistic ideas of optimal structure but there are symphonies which don't follow the traditional form. For example Sibelius' seventh symphony only has one part. Ravel didn't compose operas either so I'm more awed by the fact that he didn't do any grand presentations of his skills but rather kept things complex but short. Which is fine of course.

  5. #5

    Re: OT: Ravel didn't write any symphonies?

    In the late romantic period, there was sort of a schism between traditional composers (led by Brahms) who continued writing in old forms (symphony, etc.), and more forward-looking composers (led by Wagner) who wanted to forge new paths.

    By the time Ravel was in his prime, a lot of composers felt that the symphony and other classical forms were old-fashioned and outmoded. Ravel grew up in the Wagner camp, so even if he had an appreciation for classical form, he would have had an aversion to writing in old styles. Around that time Strauss was writing tone poems, and Debussy and Ravel were doing their thing, which I suppose you could call tone-painting. Generally for these composers, writing a symphony would have been a step backwards.

    chris.

  6. #6

    Re: OT: Ravel didn't write any symphonies?

    Quote Originally Posted by janila
    Ravel didn't compose operas either...
    Ravel did actually compose two operas, "L'Enfant et les Sortileges" and another the title of which escapes me at the moment. They both get performed occaisionally, but neither one has exactly become a repertory staple so I'm not surprised you didn't know about them. (They're worth checking out, though!)

    I see your point about Ravel and his relationship to classical form. It occurred to me just now that his String Quartet (which I love) does conform pretty closely to classical ideals. At least, it seems that way now, but I think in his time it was considered a dangerously radical work. Still, it does suggest that Ravel could have written a symphony if he'd chosen to.
    Dan Powers
    www.danielpowers.info

    "It's easier to be a composer than it is to compose."
    --Ray Luke (1928-2010)

  7. #7
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    Re: OT: Ravel didn't write any symphonies?

    Quote Originally Posted by danpowers
    Ravel did actually compose two operas, "L'Enfant et les Sortileges" and another the title of which escapes me at the moment.
    L'Heure Espagnole

  8. #8

    Re: OT: Ravel didn't write any symphonies?

    Thanks guys! This was just the kind of discussion I was hoping for and now I feel a lot wiser.

  9. #9

    Re: OT: Ravel didn't write any symphonies?

    He also did Daphnis et Chloe...
    Steven J. Kukla
    Kuklamusic.com

  10. #10

    Re: OT: Ravel didn't write any symphonies?

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve_K
    He also did Daphnis et Chloe...
    Well yes, it is appropriate to mention Ravel's largest composition in this discussion. Still, it's a ballet so the formal requirements differ from symphonies and other more or less unlimited music.

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