Ravel, Maurice


Ravel, Maurice

“Chansons madécasses” pour chant, flûte, violoncelle et piano (score and parts)


Maurice Ravel

”Chansons madécasses” pour chant, flûte, violoncelle et piano (1925-26)

(b. Ciboure near Saint-Jean-de-Luz, 7 March 1875 — d. Paris, 28 December 1937)

I – Nahandove. Andante quasi allegretto – Più animato – Tempo I – Accelerando – Andante p. 1

II – Aoua! Andante – Allegro feroce – Adagio p. 9

III – Il est doux de se coucher. Lento – Andante – Tempo I – Andante quasi allegretto p. 16


In 1925 Maurice Ravel completed L’enfant et les sortilèges, his great operatic collaboration with Colette and one of his superb, ineffably gossamer masterpieces. As successful as this collaboration turned out, it was not destined to continue, and Ravel never wrote another opera. The American-based cellist and well-known conductor Hans Kindler (1892-1949), supported by the legendary patroness Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge (1864-1953), asked him for a song cycle on words of his own choosing, to be accompanied by flute, cello, and piano. During his years of study, Ravel’s friend, the pianist Ricardo Viñes (1875-1943), had introduced him to the writings of the Creole poet Evariste-Désiré de Parny (1753-1814). Fulfilling a longstanding wish, the composer now used the commission from Philadelphia to set Parny’s Chansons ma- décasses to music. First, adopting the desired instrumental format, he completed what would later become the cycle’s second song, Aoua!, and performed it in Paris with the soprano Jane Bathori (1877-1970) at a concert organized by Mrs. Coolidge in autumn 1925. The result was an éclat which Arbie Orenstein, in his excellent biography of Ravel, describes as follows: “As it [Aoua!] was about to be encored, a minor composer of the day, Léon Moreau [1870-1946], stood up
and shouted that he was leaving the hall, not wishing to hear such a disgraceful anti-colonial text repeated when Frendh soldiers were fighting Abd-el-Krim in Morocco! He was unaware, of course, that Parny’s text predated the French Revo- lution. A formal letter of protest was sent to Ravel, who was nonplussed by the entire incident.”
The weeks that followed found Ravel preoccupied with the proofreading of L’enfant et les sortilèges and other tasks, and he had to interrupt his work on the Chansons madécasses, which were not finished until April 1926. The première took place in Paris’s Salle Erard on 13 June 1926, when they were performed by Jane Bathori, Alfredo Casella (piano), M. Baudouin (flute), and Hans Kindler (cello). The program was devoted entirely to works commissioned by Mrs. Coolidge, including, besides the Chansons madécasses, Ernst Bloch’s Suite for Viola and Piano and Charles Martin Loeffler’s set- ting of St. Francis of Assisi’s “Canticle to the Sun” as Canticum fratris solis, or Cantique au soleil, for soprano and ex- quisitely scored small orchestra (likewise a première). Incidentally, it was long assumed by Loefller scholars, incorrectly, that the première of Canticum fratris solis only took place in Washington in 1928, for it was expressly composed for the inauguration of the new auditorium at the Library of Congress. The work has been reissued in study score as vol. 854 of the Repertoire Explorer series (Munich, 2009).
The première of the the Chansons madécasses was extremely successful. To quote the French scholar Henry Prunières


Read preface / Vorwort > HERE

Partitur Nr.


Repertoire Explorer






Set Score & Parts


225 x 320 mm

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