Marie Delouart (Ravel)   (1840 - 5.i.1917)

Ravel's mother was born in 1840 in Ciboure, near St Jean-de-Luz, and close to the French border with Spain. She was proud of belonging to an old Basque family (Deluarte or Eluarte assumed the French form of Delouart), and when her first son (Maurice) was about to be born, it appears that she went back to Ciboure, from Paris, so that he too would be born a Basque.

Before her marriage to Joseph Ravel ( in 1873), she had spent some time in Madrid. According to Manuel de Falla, who met Marie in later life, "Ravel's was a Spain he had felt in an idealized way through his mother. She was a lady of exquisite conversation. She spoke fluent Spanish, which I enjoyed so much when she evoked the years of her youth, spent in Madrid..... Then I understood with what fascination her son must have listened to these memories that were undoubtedly intensified by the additional force all reminiscence gets from the song or dance theme inseparably connected with it." (Falla [1979] )

Portrait of Mme Ravel  by Edouard Ravel She was not a highly-educated woman: the surviving letters which she wrote to her son during the First World War are sometimes hard to make out in their grammar and spelling. But she seems to have been of independent mind, and shared with her son some scepticism on matters of religion. Ravel quoted her as saying that she would rather be in hell with her loved ones than all alone in heaven.

Ravel was closely attached to his mother and continued to live with her for most of the time until her death in 1917; this came as a great blow to him and interrupted his ability to compose for several years.


The portrait by her brother-in-law Edouard Ravel (painted in 1875) hangs in Ravel's study at Le Belvédère.

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