Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Maurice Ravel, Boléro, and brain injury

Maurice Ravel: Boléro - conducted by Fayçal Karoui and performed by the Orchestre Lamoureux. Selections from Maurice Ravel, Wikipedia:

Ravel in 1925
Joseph-Maurice Ravel (March 7, 1875 – December 28, 1937) was a French composer known especially for his melodies, orchestral and instrumental textures and effects. Along with Claude Debussy, he was one of the most prominent figures associated with Impressionist music...Ravel is perhaps known best for his orchestral work Boléro (1928), which he considered trivial and once described as "a piece for orchestra without music"...

Illness and Death

In 1932, Ravel suffered a major blow to the head in a taxi accident. This injury was not considered serious at the time. However, afterwards he began to experience aphasia-like symptoms and was frequently absent-minded....On April 8, 2008, the New York Times published an article suggesting Ravel may have been in the early stages of frontotemporal dementia during 1928, and this might account for the repetitive nature of Boléro. This accords with an earlier article, published in a journal of neurology, that closely examines Ravel's clinical history and argues that his works Boléro and Piano Concerto for the Left Hand both indicate the impacts of neurological disease....In late 1937, Ravel consented to experimental brain surgery...On December 17, he entered a hospital in Paris, following the advice of the well-known neurosurgeon Clovis Vincent. Vincent assumed there was a brain tumor, and on December 19 operated on Ravel. No tumor was found, but there was some shrinkage of the left hemisphere of his brain, which was re-inflated with serous fluid. When Ravel awoke from the anaesthesia, he asked for his brother, but quickly sank into a deep coma, from which he never awoke. He died on December 28, at the age of 62, in Paris....Ravel's death was probably a result of the brain surgery, with the underlying cause arguably being a brain injury caused by the automobile accident in 1932...Wikipedia, Maurice Ravel

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