Trois Chansons (Maurice Ravel)

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General information

Title: Trois chansons pour chœur mixte sans accompagnement

Composer: Maurice Ravel

Number of voices: 4vv   Voicing: SATB Publication date and place: Ed. Durand (Paris), 1916

Description: These songs for unaccompanied chorus were written between December 1914 (Trois beaux oiseaux) and February 1915 (Nicolette and Ronde), while Ravel was waiting to be enlisted in the army. The songs were published in 1916, but did not receive their first performance until October 1917 with a chorus assembled by Jane Bathori and her husband.

The songs mark a rare foray into choral writing for Ravel, the first since his ill-fated entries for the Prix de Rome (apart from the wordless choruses in Daphnis et Chloé). Part of the special interest of Trois chansons is that Ravel himself wrote the texts for them. The first and last of the poems have an ironic humour, and he clearly revelled in the use of language; the second makes repeated reference to going away to war, as its dedicatee Painlevé had already done, and as Ravel was then preoccupied with doing.

List of works

The three songs are mentioned below in the order in which the composer asked them to be published:

1. Nicolette (dedicated to the poet and fellow-Apache Tristan Klingsor)
2. Trois beaux oiseaux du Paradis (dedicated to Paul Painlevé, mathematician and briefly prime minister in 1917 and 1925)
3. Ronde (dedicated to Mme Paul Clemenceau, sister-in-law of the past and future prime minister Georges Clemenceau)

External links