Vivian Giovani

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  • A research proposal byVivian Giovani. The Piano Suite “Miroirs” of Maurice Ravel

    A Study and Analysis

    This work is a short biography and further analysis on Ravel’s suite for piano “Miroirs”.

    It begins with an introduction which is a kind of a short abstract of what is going to be

    mentioned and examined further . Also the purpose of this study with some personal thoughts

    of the author are expressed.

    The dissertation is divided in 3 chapters and 2 of them in further subcategories.

    Part 1.1, chapter 1 is referred to Ravel’s personal life.

    In this part, there is some information about his life , including the place he was born,

    his family and friends with the main characteristics of his personality and the kind of man

    he was.

    Part 1.2 chapter 1, is referred to his music studies, works and influences.

    In this part, Ravel’s studies are stated and the places where he had studied. Also

    composers and poets are mentioned who were great influences to his work and his

    relationship with them. In addition comments and opinions by various people are cited

    about Ravel’s personality and opus. Of course there is a stylistic approach to his work and

    how the influences of other musicians are showed, with examples and references , to

    certain works. There is also a part which is referred to Ravel’s relation to Gipsy and Spanish

    music with a short reference to these people and how they had influenced his work.

    Chapter 2, is the most crucial of the whole dissertation because it contains the main

    purpose of this study by analyzing in depth the piano suite “Miroirs” of Ravel and his art

    of orchestration .

    This chapter is divided in 5 subcategories. Each one begins with a reference to the programmatic

    character of the movement and one with the Spanish influences. Then an analysis in harmony and

    form gives a integral image and sense of completion. In addition, a reference is given, to

    the orchestration of Ravel did for the two of the five movements of the suite.

    The goal of this study is to examine Ravel’s compositional style, harmonic language and

    orchestration. I choose to analyse the specific work because it is a multifaceted work with


    programmatic and Spanish elements . This composition shows the great mastery that Ravel had

    in orchestration , the complex harmonic language he used, his imagination along with his

    programming thoughts and his preference in writing in a high virtuosic style.

    This study is a benefit for a music student and musician. It presents and analyses a

    composition of a great music composer and orchestra master of 20th century by combining

    classic, jazz, polytonal and ethnic elements in his work.

    The dissertation will be based on previous studies of various scholars and authors,

    dissertations , essays and articles.

    Information about his life and work will be based on the following sources:


     Roger Nichols, 1977

     Arbie Orenstein,1975 ( This book is a biography of M.Ravel including interviews ,

    letters, the places he studied and an analysis of his works with a catalogue of his

    compositions and a discography. Also it approaches the esthetic side of his work

    and his thoughts).

     Rollo H. Myers , 1960 ( A book about the life and works of M. Ravel)

     Norman Demuth , 1962

     Victor Seroff , 1953 ( Ch.1 is a background about Ravel’s life. Ch. 2 refers to his

    studies and influences. Ch.3 his relationship with “ Apaches”.Ch. 5 is about the

    changes in his style.Ch.9 sites his relationship with Stravinsky.

    Ch. 13 refers to “Les Six”)

     H.H Stuckenschmidt, 1968 ( This book refers to changes on Ravel’s work and life

    and it is important for having someone a whole picture of him.Also refers to his

    influence from Basque people).

     Ronald Manuel ; Dennis Dobson ,1947 (part Ι ch. I -II is about Ravel’s life.

    Ch.III cites the aesthetics of his work. Ch.IV is about his social life)

     Burnett James , 1987 ( A biography of Ravel with personal letters and recollections).


     G.W Hopkins , 1986

     Roger Nichols,1988 (Comments by Stravinsky and Milhaud for Ravel and his

    character )

     Arbie Orenstein,2003 ( This book is divided in four sections. The first is an insight

    into Ravel’s music career and the way he was thinking.

    The second part cites the correspondence and personal letters of Ravel .

    This part disclose his personality and character. It shows what kind of man he

    was , his emotions and thoughts, personal interests and travels.

    The third section is a collection of articles written by Ravel for various

    musicians and their works. It shows us his criticism to other composers and his

    opinion about their work.

    The fourth section includes interviews of Ravel published from 1911 to 1933 and

    these interviews appeared in various publications throughout the world).

     Norman Demuth, 1975 (ch.4 Ravel)

     J. Bogousslavsky , F.Boller Jan.2005 .( p. 132 The terminal illness and last

    compositions of M. Ravel.)


    Madge Waterston Hunt,1964 ( A dissertation with reference to the Spanish influence to

    Ravel’s work)

    ARTICLES ( internet)

     Concise Oxford University of Music 4th edition M.Kennedy and Joyce Bourne( few

    comments for his life and a list of his works)

     Maurice Ravel ( Biography with details about his family and the places where he

    lived, addresses and information about his works)


     Basque people ( few information about these people who had influenced the

    work of Ravel)

     Talk: Maurice Ravel (comments about Ravel by different artists)

     Maurice Ravel ( A short biography)

     Maurice Ravel ( A short biography)

     List of compositions by Maurice Ravel ( Comments about his works)

     Scott Simson March 22 2003 ( An article about M.Ravel and WarI)

     Jessica Duchen Febr. 23 2004 (An article about Ravel’s personality)

     Michael Kennedy and Joyce Bourne Jan.1 1996 ( An article about his life)

     “Questia “ ( Articles in newspapers , journals and magazines about Ravel and his


     Roger Clement Unitel Highlight (Comments about his life and work)


    Information and criticism about his work will be based on the following sources:


     Siglind Bruhn, 1997 ( This book devotes a part for Ravel’s work for piano “Les

    Miroirs”. It analyses “La Vall de cloches”, Miroirs, no5 and “ Une barque sur l’

    ocean”, Miroirs, no3)

     Stephen Zank June 2003

     Maurice Hinson , June 1 2005 ( This book is an analysis on Ravel’s piano works

    their music forms and history)

     D.Mawer , J.Cross, 2000 ( This book is an analysis on Ravel’s opus and it is

    divided in certain chapters , each containing a separately reference and examination

    on piano, chamber music, ballet, opera works and an aesthetic approach to his work

    and culture).

     John L. Holms , 1993 (About M.Ravel and his orchestral work on p.116. How

    conductors confront his work and the difficulties they had)

     John L. Holms , 1990 ( About M.Ravel and the way he composed on p. 141)

     Arbie Orenstein,1975

     Roger Nichols, 1977

     Rollo H. Myers , 1960

     H.H Stuckenschmidt, 1968

     Ronald Manuel ; Dennis Dobson ,1947

     Vlado Perlemuter & Helene Jourdan -Morhange April 1 2005 ( Comments for his piano

    works in which Perlemuter played and discussed them with Hélène Jourdan-Morhange)


     Laurence Davies, 1970 ( A reference to his orchestral music)

     Louis Laloy October 1999 ( Comments on Ravel’s work by Louis Laloy who was a

    notable French music critic and scholar. He was a close friend of Debussy and he

    wrote biographies for notable composers.)

     Yvonne Loriod-Messiaen ( This book is an analysis on Ravel’s piano works by


     Norman Demuth , 1975 ( ch.4 refers to M. Ravel)


     Madge Waterston Hunt Methodist University 1964 ( Comments about the Spanish

    element on Ravel’s work)

    ARTICLES (internet)

     Robert Craft May 1, 1975

     Magazine “Adante Corporations” Tim Page ( an article about Ravel’s orchestral


     Milt Stevens Oct.26, 2001 ( an essay about the role of trombone on Ravel’s


     Maurice Ravel ( about his works) “ Naxos”


    This study contains some biographical elements , in order to be a right introduction and

    connection to Ravel’s profile and for the reader to have a whole picture of him and his

    work. It is basic and important because the life and the elements of someone’s personality

    are reflective in his style and the way he is thinking and working .

    On the other hand, the main purpose of this dissertation is to analyze “Miroirs” and

    with an emphasis to the orchestration Ravel did for the two movements and how clever

    he used the instruments of the orchestra by showing the abilities of each .

    The analysis will be done by using the classic harmony and detecting the motifs,

    sentences, periods and the form structure. In addition, wherever it is possible , other methods

    will be used , like Schenker analysis in harmony, A.Forte set theory, Meyer stylistic

    analysis, Reti theme analysis and analysis of Jean Jacques Nattiez.

    Also for the evaluation and analysis of his orchestration and compositions, comments of

    other authors, using the bibliography mentioned above and other recommended will be used

    and whenever it is possible my personal opinion.

    The sources for his life and works will be based on articles from the internet, audio ,

    music sheets , dissertations , essays and books.

    For completing and fulfilling the purpose of this dissertation , some plans will be made

    based on the sources mentioned before. Then each information will be used in short

    according to the final well fit plan.

    There will be three basic plans. The one will be about his personal life , the second for his

    works and influences and the third will be about “Miroirs” . These plans will be based much

    on the contents, shown at the end.

    This study will show that Ravel’s work is undoubtedly unique and incomparable with a

    mastery on orchestration. The main characteristic is that each of his work has a strong

    melody and its own character. He had influences either classical or jazz, Spanish or

    ancient Greeks and this can be shown through this dissertation. The most favorable works

    are Bolero and Mother Goose and that is obvious because of the many articles and

    books which have been written for . Many people admired his orchestration and the way

    he wrote and that is why G.Gerswin asked from Ravel to give him some music lessons

    but Ravel said : Why do you want to be a second Ravel when you can be a first grade

    Gerswin? If someone reads the interviews and articles he /she will see how much people

    loved his work and thought of him as a unique personality but sometimes strange personality.


    Table of contents


    Chapter 1 :Biography of M. Ravel

    1.1 M. Ravel’s life

    1.2 M. Ravel’s works : influences and studies

    Chapter 2 : ” Miroirs “ Suite For Piano

    2.1 Noctuelles

    Program music

    Form and structure

    Harmonic language

    2.2 Oiseaux Tristes

    Program music

    Form and structure

    Harmonic language

    2.3 Une barque sur l’ocean

    Program music

    Form and structure

    Harmonic language



    2.4 Alborada del gracioso

    Spanish music

    Form and structure

    Harmonic language


    2.5 La vallee des cloches

    Program music

    Form and structure

    Harmonic language

    Chapter 3 : An overall conclusion to Ravel’s work

    A catalogue of Ravel works




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