Politics

"He was a subscriber to Léon Blum's paper Le Populaire. His views were, as we would say today, leftish, that's to say he was totally opposed to all social inequality." (Manuel Rosenthal, interview with Rémy Stricker, France Culture 1985, quoted, and translated, by Nichols [1987], p.36)

Léon Blum

[Postcard to Ida Godebska, from Irunia (Spain) 27.ix.1911]
"Vous frappez pas. Vous écrirai bientôt. Des choses affectueuses à tous
           Maurice Ravel
Souvenir cordial et imprévu de
           Léon Blum
            et de Gustave P. Samazeuilh"
(Orenstein, [1989], letter 88)
[Blum became socialist prime minister of France in 1936.]

"... rien ne l'aurait empêché d'aller le 24 décembre réveillonner chez les Paul Clémenceau; il pouvait ne pas les voir pendant toute l'année, Noël le ramenait chez eux amical, tout étonné de leur étonnement."
["Nothing would have prevented him spending Christmas Eve with Paul Clemenceau and his family..."] (Hélène Jourdan-Morhange, La revue musicale, déc.1938, pp.192-197, quoted, and translated by, Nichols, [1987], p.127)
[Paul was the brother of Georges Clemenceau, left-wing politician and journalist, and prime minister 1906-1909 and 1917-1920. When Ravel composed his Trois chansons in 1917, he dedicated the third of the songs, Ronde, to Sophie Clemenceau, wife of Paul. The second song of the the same group, Trois beaux oiseaux de paradis, was dedicated to Paul Painlevé, mathematician, pilot, and politician who was twice prime minister (1917 and 1925).]

Georges Clemenceau

"As for the view, the assertion indeed, that Ravel was politically very far to the left, I must admit that the real essence of the man has always seemed to me to resist definition, and that his complex, even contradictory character makes nonsense of attempts to classify it." (Ricardo Viñes, La revue musicale, déc.1938, quoted, and translated, by Nichols, [1987], p.37)

"...Ravel aimait à déclarer: 'Je ne suis d'aucun parti, je suis anarchiste!'" (Jourdan-Morhange, [1945], p.55).

When Jean-Jacques Liabeuf was condemned to death for shooting two policemen in 1910: "Ravel was among the most eager to secure a reprieve. ...He was, he told me, against the death penalty always. Quite apart from that, he averred that Liabeuf had been the victim of a trumped-up charge simply because he was an anarchist, and the blind fury which had led him to avenge his honour by shooting his accusers was understandable. After Liabeuf's execution, Ravel was so upset that for a few days he shut himself up in his home, refusing to see anybody." (Calvocoressi, [1933])


"Aoua! Méfiez-vous des Blancs, habitants du rivage."
[From Aoua, in Chansons madécasses (1925-26)]

www.maurice-ravel.net