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Ravel: A Listener’s Guide

Unlocking the Masters

Ravel: A Listener’s Guide

 by Victor Lederer


An enigma to those who knew him, Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) composed some of the most popular and beloved music in the repertory. In Ravel: A Listener’s Guide (November 2015, Amadeus Press, $19.99), Victor Lederer surveys and explores this master’s refined and utterly distinctive oeuvre.

Ravel is often mentioned in the same breath as his older contemporary Claude Debussy, but the works of the two composers display as many differences as similarities. Where Debussy rejected existing forms, the structuralist Ravel embraced the baroque suite and classical sonata form as vehicles for his ideas, in addition to his own concise inventions. At his best, which is where we usually find this focused stylist, passion flows just beneath some of the most exquisitely crafted surfaces in music, under which lurk ironies that raise as many questions as answers. A perfect example is Boléro, Ravel’s most famous work, a strange but fascinating experiment that one can hear as maddening or irresistible. Lederer analyzes Bolero and looks at the outsized role it has assumed in our culture.

Lederer walks the reader and listener through Ravel’s relatively small but crucial contributions to orchestral, vocal, chamber, and piano music. Ravel’s two operas, idiosyncratic and underappreciated, are examined in detail as well. The book includes a Naxos CD that samples masterpieces from across the master’s career.

8.5″ x 11″
168 pages
Amadeus Press, an imprint of Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing Group


Victor Lederer is a writer on music and urban history. His books include Beethoven’s Chamber Music: A Listener’s Guide, Beethoven’s Piano Music: A Listener’s Guide, Bach’s Keyboard Music: A Listener’s Guide, and Chopin: A Listener’s Guide to the Master of the Piano, all for the Amadeus Press Unlocking the Masters series. He lives in New York.