Ravel is sometimes seen as a remote, detached and unemotional man - however much his music may say otherwise to his admirers. His life was not particularly eventful and does not provide ready insights into his nature. One way of getting a closer view of the man is through the people with whom he was intimate: the friends with whom he spent time or with whom he corresponded by letter, and his family, which was small but close.


Ravel c.1905
Ravel c.1905. Photograph by Pierre Petit. Source: Wikimedia Commons

(Pierre) Joseph Ravel, father
Marie Delouart (Ravel), mother
Edouard Ravel, brother
(Jean-)Edouard Ravel, uncle; painter


The Godebski family, and Misia Sert
The Dreyfus family
The Gaudin family
Léon Leyritz, sculptor
Jacques de Zogheb, writer

Around 1903, when Ravel was in his twenties, he became one of an avant-garde group of artists, writers and musicians known as the "Apaches". (One day, a group of them had bumped into a newspaper seller in the rue de Rome; he cried out "Attention les apaches". They cheerfully adopted the name of 'hooligans'. At Ravel's suggestion, they chose the first theme of Borodin's 2nd Symphony as their 'signature' tune.)

The Apaches used to meet regularly on Saturdays, at first at the home of Paul Sordes, in rue Dulong in Montmartre, or at that of Tristan Klingsor in avenue du Parc-Montsouris, and later in the studio of Maurice Delage, in rue de Civry in Auteil. Various members of the group became longterm friends of Ravel.


Edouard Benedictus, painter and composer
M.D. Calvocoressi, writer and music critic
Maurice Delage, composer Ravel's monogram, which he included  sometimes in his letters and scores
Léon-Paul Fargue, poet
Lucien Garban, publisher
Désiré-Emile Inghelbrecht, conductor
Pierre Haour
Gomez de Riquet
Tristan Klingsor, poet, painter, art theorist
Florent Schmitt, composer
Paul Sordes, painter
Ricardo Viñes, pianist
Emile Vuillermoz, music critic
and others

Ravel knew and associated with many of the leading composers of his day, but his personal friendships were limited to just a few of these.


Manuel de Falla
Gabriel Fauré
Igor Stravinsky
Ralph Vaughan-Williams
and the composers of the Groupe des Six, sometimes less than friends

On the whole, he developed closer relationships with some of the performers of his works, especially female ones.


Jane Bathori, mezzo-soprano
Marcelle Gerar, soprano
Madeleine Grey, soprano, mezzo-soprano
Louise Alvar Harding, soprano
Hélène Jourdan-Morhange, violinist
Jeanne Leleu, pianist
Ravel at the piano in 1912
Ravel at the piano in 1912. Source: Durand Salabert Eschig

Marguerite Long, pianist
Ida Rubinstein, dancer and impresario

Music critics, and others

Raoul Bardac
Arnold Bennett, novelist
Jean Marnold
Manuel Rosenthal
Gustave Samazeuilh
     and including an enemy...?
Pierre Lalo

Many of Ravel's friendships are reflected in the dedications which he made in a number of his works, for example the various movements of

Le tombeau de Couperin

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