Ravel’s Reject

Sonatine Mv.1 Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)

Back in January I played the first movement of Ravel's Sonatine. The other two movements are quite beautiful also, so for 'summer fun' I thought I might play all three movements spread out over the next three Sundays. If you'll recall, Ravel wrote the first movement of the Sonatine in 1903 for a competition sponsored by the Weekly Critical Review magazine after being encouraged by a close friend who was a contributor to that magazine. The competition requirement was the first movement of a piano sonatina no longer than 75 bars, with the prize being 100 francs. Even though Ravel was the only entrant, his Sonatine was disqualified for being seven bars too long. The competition was ultimately cancelled and the magazine went bankrupt—I'm wondering if mismanagement may have had something to do with that.

The Sonatine still ultimately paid off for Ravel: he added two more movements, and his Sonatine became one of his most popular piano pieces; as a result one of the largest music publishers of the day signed an exclusive and generous contract with Ravel: an annual salary of 12,000 francs plus royalties.