|Maurice Ravel |
Maurice Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major was composed between 1929 and 1931. The concerto is in three movements and is heavily influenced by jazz, which Ravel had encountered on a concert tour of the United States in 1928.
"The G-major Concerto took two years of work, you know. The opening theme came to me on a train between Oxford and London. But the initial idea is nothing. The work of chiseling then began. We've gone past the days when the composer was thought of as being struck by inspiration, feverishly scribbling down his thoughts on a scrap of paper. Writing music is seventy-five percent an intellectual activity." [Maurice Ravel]
The concerto was deeply infused with jazz idioms and harmonies, which, at the time, were highly popular in Paris as well as the United States, where Ravel was traveling on a piano tour. Ravel remarked that "The most captivating part of jazz is its rich and diverting rhythm. ...Jazz is a very rich and vital source of inspiration for modern composers and I am astonished that so few Americans are influenced by it." After his well-received tour, Ravel wanted to give the first public performance of this new work himself. However, health issues precluded this possibility, with his preparatory practice of Liszt’s and Chopin's etudes leading to fatigue. He then planned a premiere for March 9, 1931, in Amsterdam, but these plans also were canceled due to his work on the Concerto for the Left Hand, his many public appearances, and his performances of his other works.
Eventually, Ravel offered the premiere and dedicated the concerto to Marguerit Long, who was known for her performances of the works of Fauré and Debussy and had earlier asked Ravel for a new work. She received the score on November 11, 1931, and played the concerto on January 14, 1932, with Ravel conducting the Orchestre Lamoureux. A few days after this highly successful premiere, Ravel and Long started a tour of twenty cities in Europe, where the work was received with consistent enthusiasm. (Wikipedia)
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