05 Aug 2011

Ravel – Pavane pour une infante défunte

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Maurice Ravel composed his Pavane pour une infante défunte (Pavane for a Dead Princess) in 1899 when he was studying composition at the Conservatoire de Paris under Gabriel Fauré. The composition was intended as “an evocation” of a pavane (a slow processional dance) that a little princess might, in the 16th or 17th century, have danced at the Spanish court. Originally written for solo piano, a version arranged for orchestra, awarding the lead melody to a hand horn in G, was produced by the composer in 1910.

Ravel was expressing a curious personal nostalgia for the culture and sensibilities of Antique Spain, but his Pavanne mysteriously also seems to go nicely with the melancholy image of this 1869 Hudson River School painting of Lake George by John Frederick Kensett.

Hat tip to Michel Grebert.

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