Ten years after being stationed at the Verdun front as a truck driver during WWI, Maurice Ravel traveled to New York. During his 1928 trip, he heard spirituals and jazz with a “rich and diverting rhythm” that would continue to be a source of inspiration.
After he returned to Europe, he wrote the opening of the Piano Concerto in G on a train. It took him another year to complete the concerto — three years after Monet, the father of impressionism, died. Monet’s luminous style of layering paint was not so different from how Ravel layered colors.
His piano concerto relies on a palette of syncopated rhythms and soaring jazz riffs. The concerto’s three movements use a harmonic language rooted in a classical tradition. The first movement swells into a jazzman’s improvisation and a cadenza that takes center stage.
I invite you to close your eyes and imagine yourself in a smoky Harlem jazz joint. Let your paintbrush go wild October 4 at First Impressions: Music & Monet.