Paris: A. Durand & Fils [PN D. & F. 7073], 1908.
Small folio. Half mid-tan calf with marbled boards, original publisher's wrappers printed in black and red bound in. 1f. (blank), 1f. (title printed in red and black), 1f. (printed dedication "À Madame Jean Cruppi Hommage de respectueuse amitié Maurice Ravel"), 1f. (cast list), [i] (index), [ii] (performance notes), 114 pp.
With an autograph inscription signed by Ravel to dedication leaf: "et à G - Jean - Aubry (en moins respectueuse amitié) Maurice Ravel."
Wrappers browned and very slightly defective. Slightly worn and browned; small tear to head of dedication repaired; small publisher's monogramatic handstamp to lower edge of verso of last page; contemporary newspaper clippings to recto of blank leaf preceding title, with synopsis and review of the work by Gabriel Fauré.
First Edition. Orenstein: Ravel Man and Musician, p. 228.
L'Heure Espagnole was first performed in Paris at the Opéra Comique on May 19, 1911 to a libretto closely based on the play by Franc-Nohain.
Madame Jean Cruppi (the dedicatee) convinced the director of the Opéra-Comique, Albert Carré, to stage the work in spite of its risqué story line. "In a letter of 17 May 1911, two days before the première, Ravel wrote: ‘What I’ve tried to do is fairly ambitious: to breathe new life into the Italian opera buffa: following only the principle … the French language, like any other, has its own accents and inflections of pitch.’ At the same time he referred to Musorgsky’s Zhenit’ba (‘The Marriage’) as the work’s only real ancestor. It also forms part of a larger group of Spanish works that spanned Ravel’s whole career, and the necessary Spanish colouring provided him with a reason for a virtuoso use of the modern orchestra, which he felt was ‘perfectly designed for underlining and exaggerating comic effects’." Roger Nichols in Grove Music Online. Indeed, composer-writer Reynaldo Hahn somewhat critically referred to Ravel's technique as "a sort of transcendent jujitsu."
Noted music critic Georges Jean-Aubry (1882-1949) "belonged to a circle of avant-garde musicians and littérateurs and was a frequent contributor to periodicals. Encouraged by his 20-year friendship with Debussy, he wrote enthusiastically in support of contemporary French composers, noting similarities between their music and that of the 18th century (Couperin, Rameau). He wrote perceptively in praise of Spanish composers (Falla, Granados, Albéniz), but rejected German Romanticism as expressed in the works of Wagner and Strauss." Grove Music Online.
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