Sunday, May 29, 2011

Maurice Ravel - Rigaudon

Maurice Ravel is best known for Bolero, which is ironic because he considered that to be a failed experiment (he referred to it as "a piece for orchestra without music").  Less well known is that he enlisted in the French Army in World War I.  He was 40 years old, and in poor health.  Instead of flying airplanes like he requested, they assigned him to a truck driving company in the Verdun sector.

Verdun, of course, was where the Imperial German Army determined to bleed the French white.  Ravel lost a lot of friends in action.

But he wasn't considered France's greatest composer for nothing.  During the war, he composed a suite for piano as a memorial for his dead friends.  Its six movements were each for one of his six friends who were killed in action.

Le Tombeau de Couperin seems strangely upbeat.  Rather than sad and dirge-like, it is almost lively.  Ravel was criticized for this at the time; he famously replied "The dead are sad enough, in their eternal silence."

This is the fourth of the six movements, Rigaudon.  It is dedicated to the memories of Pierre and Pascal Gaudin.  They served together, and were killed by the same shell.

This Memorial Day weekend, remember the others who never had a Ravel to write for them.

1 comment:

Guffaw in AZ said...

Just wow.
and thanks,