Ravel is sometimes seen as a remote, detached and unemotional man - however much his music may say otherwise to his admirers. His life was not particularly eventful and does not provide ready insights into his nature. One way of getting a closer view of the man is through the people with whom he was intimate: the friends with whom he spent time or with whom he corresponded by letter, and his family, which was small but close.
|Ravel c.1905. Photograph by Pierre Petit. Source: Wikimedia Commons|
Around 1903, when Ravel was in his twenties, he became one of an avant-garde group of artists, writers and musicians known as the "Apaches". (One day, a group of them had bumped into a newspaper seller in the rue de Rome; he cried out "Attention les apaches". They cheerfully adopted the name of 'hooligans'. At Ravel's suggestion, they chose the first theme of Borodin's 2nd Symphony as their 'signature' tune.)
The Apaches used to meet regularly on Saturdays, at first at the home of Paul Sordes, in rue Dulong in Montmartre, or at that of Tristan Klingsor in avenue du Parc-Montsouris, and later in the studio of Maurice Delage, in rue de Civry in Auteil. Various members of the group became longterm friends of Ravel.
Edouard Benedictus, painter and composer
M.D. Calvocoressi, writer and music critic
Maurice Delage, composer
Léon-Paul Fargue, poet
Lucien Garban, publisher
Désiré-Emile Inghelbrecht, conductor
Gomez de Riquet
Tristan Klingsor, poet, painter, art theorist
Florent Schmitt, composer
Paul Sordes, painter
Ricardo Viñes, pianist
Emile Vuillermoz, music critic
Ravel knew and associated with many of the leading composers of his day, but his personal friendships were limited to just a few of these.
On the whole, he developed closer relationships with some of the performers of his works, especially female ones.
|Ravel at the piano in 1912. Source: Durand Salabert Eschig|
Many of Ravel's friendships are reflected in the dedications which he made in a number of his works, for example the various movements of
Top of page