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Proof through the NightMusic and the Great War$
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Glenn Watkins

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780520231580

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520231580.001.0001

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Neoclassicism, Aviation, and the Great War

Neoclassicism, Aviation, and the Great War

(p.170) 10 Neoclassicism, Aviation, and the Great War
Proof through the Night

Glenn Watkins

University of California Press

Aside from Claude Debussy and Vincent d'Indy, another French composer to confront the prospect of war in highly personal terms was Maurice Ravel. It was at this time that Ravel began work on the Piano Trio. But it is in the central “Trois beaux oiseaux du Paradis” that Ravel made his most unambiguous reference to the Great War. Birds, especially swallows and nightingales, had long been symbols of hope, but never more so than in the period between the Franco-Prussian conflict and World War I, during which few songs were more popular than “L'oiseau qui vient de France.” All pianists who have played Ravel's Tombeau de Couperin know that from a performer's perspective the concluding “Toccata” makes the greatest technical demands of the entire suite. In a more generalized discussion of Tombeau that nowhere touches on the issue of aviation, Carolyn Abbate has tellingly addressed this very issue.

Keywords:   Maurice Ravel, aviation, Great War, Piano Trio, birds, France, Tombeau de Couperin, Toccata, songs

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