Ravel in Kansas City

Flag of Kansas City

Ravel came to Kansas City for a recital on 14 March 1928, with the soprano Lisa Roma, at the Hotel Muehlebach ballroom, under the auspices of the local Pro Musica group. The event was eagerly anticipated and the venue was packed. It began with a reading of Ravel's prepared lecture on contemporary music, in which he paid tribute to the modern generation of French composers, as well as repeating his views on the "blues" as a vital force in American music.

The perforrmance of piano music and songs by Ravel attract the usual criticisms of the composer's limited abilities as a performer, as well as reservations about the suitability of his singer. None of this however diminished the sense of occasion and Ravel's personality, as expressed both in his music and in his physical presence, drew a warm response from local reviewers.

"What we heard was music that seems to have been written by one with the touch of Midas... It has color, rhythm, design and effect and its aesthetic sense is developed to the highest degree. At times it is even tantalizing, so subtle is Ravel and so delicious is his sense of the ridiculous." (Kansas City Journal-Post, 15 March 1928**).

"Little of the music ever had been heard by the audience before last night. It is pleasant to be able to say that a great deal of it, as was not the case with the gruff and thundering Bartok, left a positive impression, and at the time was a matter for enjoyment and not a test of endurance. Chiefly because, doubtless, modernist Ravel seems always less concerned with saying what he has to say in a different way, than with finding something sensible to say in the first place." (Kansas City Times, 15 March 1928, p.14**).

(** as quoted in Dunfee [1980] pp.105-108.)