Doctor of Music, University of Oxford

On 23 October 1928 Ravel visited Oxford to receive the honorary degree of Doctor of Music at a ceremony in the Sheldonian Theatre. The University's Public Orator, A. B. Poynton, fulfilled the customary practice of delivering an address in Latin in which he highlighted some of the recipient's achievements: as well as recalling the composer's portraits of other lands such as Greece and Spain, he refers to Ravel's planned (but never to be completed) project of an opera about Joan of Arc; he notes the composer's versatility that embraces song, instrumental music, and music for dance; and taking his metaphor from the story of Daphnis and Chloe, he concludes that Ravel has shown that Pan is not dead and that Mount Helicon, sacred to the Muses, remains green. The full text of the oration follows:

"Civem Francogallicum ad vos duco, patriae suae dulcissimae decus atque delicias, quem ad mare Cantabricum inter Pyrenaeos nascentem cum Melpomene placido lumine vidisset, Lutetia, artium nostrarum mater, excepit modosque musicos numeris legitimis implicare docuit. Adest vir tenero vegetoque ingenio pollens, cuius ars ab Oriente auspicata Persiam, Graeciam, Hispaniam illustravit; qui nunc Sanctam et invictam Virginem Aurelianam laurea, qua una carebat, donare meditatur. Artis quidem musicae miracula difficile est Latino sermone illustrare, neque quisquam oratori veniam denegabit, si nihil dignum pro modorum illorum inventione ac dispositione dixerit, quos hospes noster vel vocibus canentium vel digitis psallentium vel pedibus saltantium feliciter est ausus aptare; si in eo dignos Parrhasio colores, si Pyrgoteleam quandam in gemmis elimandis sollertiam, strictim tantum attigerit. Quin etiam ipse veterum fabellarum modulator, qui Materculae suae Anseri cycni sonum donavit, ignoscet mihi si inter vos argutos absurdius aliquid strepam; ignoscet si ad Orphea atque Amphiona revolutus tritius eam artem laudabo, quae non silvas et feras, sed criticos, sed 'horribiles Britannos' tenet, quae filorum pulsu citra nemorum ruinam per Tempe campanulis consonantia iam iam, si libebit, nos Academicos audientes pervehet. Illud autem vir Phoebei praecepti memor non ignoscet, si nimius ero neque ut ipse materiae parcam, si nihil reticebo aut leni risu transmittam, si denique Dorconis, non Daphnidis partes agam. Quin Lesbum hinc facessimus et hoc modulante diem aestivum ibi conterimus! Iam Methymnaeorum manibus sacrilegis ereptam Chloen pastor Daphnis adfatur: iam gaudiorum suorum praeludia, Panis et Syringis amores saltando in longum ducunt: permittamus illis lepidi artificis laudes, qui doctis omnibus persuadet Pana non esse mortuum atque etiam nunc virere Helicona. Itaque missis ambagibus praesento vobis Musarum interpretem, modorum daedalum, Mauricium Ravel, ut admittatur ad gradum Doctoris in arte musica honoris causa."

(Source: Norman Demuth. Ravel. London: Dent, 1947. p.205.)

In the evening after the degree ceremony, Ravel participated in a concert of his works in Oxford Town Hall.

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