1st Edition

The Ballets of Maurice Ravel Creation and Interpretation

By Deborah Mawer Copyright 2006
    332 Pages
    by Routledge

    332 Pages
    by Routledge

    Maurice Ravel, as composer and scenario writer, collaborated with some of the greatest ballet directors, choreographers, designers and dancers of his time, including Diaghilev, Ida Rubinstein, Benois and Nijinsky. In this book, the first study dedicated to Ravel's ballets, Deborah Mawer explores these relationships and argues that ballet music should not be regarded in isolation from its associated arts. Indeed, Ravel's views on ballet and other stage works privilege a synthesized aesthetic. The first chapter establishes a historical and critical context for Ravel's scores, engaging en route with multimedia theory. Six main ballets from Daphnis et Chloé through to Boléro are considered holistically alongside themes such as childhood fantasy, waltzing and neoclassicism. Each work is examined in terms of its evolution, premiere, critical reception and reinterpretation through to the present; new findings result from primary-source research, undertaken especially in Paris. The final chapter discusses the reasons for Ravel's collaborations and the strengths and weaknesses of his interpersonal relations. Mawer emphasizes the importance of the performative dimension in realizing Ravel's achievement, and proposes that the composer's large-scale oeuvre can, in a sense, be viewed as a balletic undertaking. In so doing, this book adds significantly to current research interest in artistic production and interplay in early twentieth-century Paris.

    Contents: Introduction; Cultural and critical backdrop; Childhood fantasy and exoticism: Ma Mère l'Oye and L'Enfant; Greekness and myth in Daphnis et Chloé; Essays on the waltz I: Adélaïde ou le langage des fleurs (Valses nobles); Essays on the waltz II: La Valse and epilogue; Neoclassical divertissements: Le Tombeau de Couperin and 'Fanfare' from L'Eventail de Jeanne; Spain, machines and sexuality: Boléro; 'Danse générale' - Ravel's œuvre as ballet; Appendix; Select bibliography; Index.


    Deborah Mawer is Senior Lecturer in Music at Lancaster University, UK. Her research focuses upon the analysis and history of early twentieth-century French music in its cultural setting, with a particular interest in ballet. She is author of Darius Milhaud: Modality and Structure in Music of the 1920s (Ashgate, 1997) and editor of The Cambridge Companion to Ravel (Cambridge, 2000). She also writes on issues in music education.

    'The Ballets of Maurice Ravel: Creation and Interpretation is a most interesting project and will undoubtedly be very valuable to scholars and students in both music and dance.’ Stephanie Jordan, Research Professor in Dance, Roehampton University

     'This well-documented study offers important insight into the choreographic aspects of Ravel's art. Highly recommended.' Professor Arbie Orenstein, Aaron Copland School of Music, The Queens College, City University of New York

     '... the production details are often fascinating in their own right, and Mawer has been diligent in seeking them out and often perspicacious in evaluating them... as a reference book to Ravel ballet productions this volume has considerable value.' BBC Music Magazine

    'A powerful study of unusual scope... [The author's] research bears fruit in informed accounts of each work based on exhaustive and wide-ranging primary sources... The whole volume, usefully illustrated with prints mainly from the Paris Bibliothèque Nationale is warmly recommended.' Dancing Times

    ’This solid, well-organized volume offers a balanced discussion of dance and music in the ballets of Ravel...Recommended.’ Choice

    '... this book is not only indispensable for those who study Ravel and twentieth-century classical ballet, but also edifying and accessible to a much broader readership that includes musicians, dancers, and interested audience members... this foundational book is certain to generate a new and lively discussion about Ravel's music and his ballets, and promises to exert a lasting influence upon future scholarship.' Notes

    '[Deborah Mawer's] study abounds in musical examples which will be of interest to the musicologist as well as the ballet historian.’ Ballet-Dance Magazine