Maurice Ravel

(1895 - 1963)

piano version

orchestral version

This piano work was one of the earliest successes of Ravel (age 24), gaining widespread favor among listeners and critics alike. The pavane was a dance of slow tempo and refined gesture that originated in Italy during the late Renaissance, and spread throughout Europe, becoming especially popular in Spain and England.  In Spain, the pavane often accompanied the weddings of young girls of the nobility, the solemn activities of feast days, and certain religious ceremonies.  

Ravel re-created the dignified, processional character of the pavane in his Pavane for a Dead Princess, but admitted devising the title just because he was pleased by the sound of the words (Pavane pour une infante défunte). The composer said he conceived it as a dance for a little princess of the 17th century as painted by Velásquez.  He always railed against performing the work too slowly, warning that it was the princess who had died and not the pavane!  The orchestral version of the piano original has become one of Ravel’s most popular works.

Pavane for a Dead Princess

(1899)

piano version / orchestral version

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