Freak List – Randomized, Homogenized And Scrutinized (Maurice Ravel)
Another episode in a ongoing series that takes a casual look at the members of the Frank Zappa Freak Out List. In the spirit of aimlessness, the list has been randomized.
…he was a unique character. He lived an interesting life.
He washed out at school a couple of times because he failed to win various
performance and composition competitions as a youngster.
In his 30s, during W.W.I, Ravel joined up and was a truck driver. At Verdun, his unit faced off with young Adolf Hitler’s.
He was often reclusive and kept his private affairs close to the vest which, led to much speculation.
He shared a mutual respect and long time friendly rivalry with DeBussy.
He went through a lot of familiar music biz stuff including contract disputes and bad reviews.
The guy even toured the States; hanging with Gershwin in Harlem, hitting Bourbon Street, playing blue collar markets (Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit, Kansas City) and passing time at some joints in Omaha while waiting for a south band train.
He dug the jazz and had the blues…
All of this before he finally had his big breakthrough hit.
After returning to France, Ravel composed his most famous and controversial orchestral work Boléro, originally called Fandango. Ravel called it “an experiment in a very special and limited direction”. He stated his idea for the piece, “I am going to try to repeat it a number of times on different orchestral levels but without any development.” He conceived of it as an accompaniment to a ballet and not as an orchestral piece as, in his own opinion, “it has no music in it”, and was somewhat taken aback by its popular success.
And, the controversy continues. In recent years there has been speculation that Ravel may have been suffering from dementia and that would explain the repetition in the piece. Ravel said that it was “an experiment in a very special and limited direction” and that the repetition was intentional; “I am going to try to repeat it a number of times on different orchestral levels but without any development.”
The details of Ravel’s estate end up tabloid fodder as this extraordinary bit from a 1980 People magazine piece demonstrates…
The Ravel estate, with its booming Bolero royalties, has passed on to Alexandre’s widow, Georgette, who, by virtue of being the second wife of the man who was once married to Ravel’s brother’s wife’s masseuse, is one of Europe’s wealthiest heiresses.
As for Conceptual Continuity…