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Ravel: Jeu d’Eau

Here’s a hint: not a “passing mark” in the judges’ eyes…

The process of awarding the famous Prix de Rome resembled a difficult school exam.

In the earlier stages, contestants were grilled on counterpoint and harmony.

At the end of the competition, they worked in seclusion to produce an operatic scene on a text that had been chosen by committee.

Throughout its history, the award was frequently criticized for stifling creativity, particularly in cases where experimental composers failed to win.

The so-called “Ravel Scandal” even led to a changeover in the administration of the Paris Conservatoire.

People couldn’t believe that a composer with early masterpieces like the beautiful piano solo Jeux d’Eau could lose the award five times in a row!

But Ravel was in good company. Eighty years earlier, the iconoclastic Berlioz had failed to win the award for four straight years.

Music Heard On This Episode

Maurice Ravel (1875-1937): Jeux d’Eau
Pascal Rogé, p. — Ravel: Piano Works (Decca, 1994)
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Maurice Ravel (1875-1937): Jeux d’Eau
Pascal Rogé, p. — Ravel: Piano Works (Decca, 1994)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover

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