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Late Style and its DiscontentsEssays in art, literature, and music$
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Gordon McMullan and Sam Smiles

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198704621

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198704621.001.0001

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Ravel’s Timeliness and his Many Late Styles

Ravel’s Timeliness and his Many Late Styles

Chapter:
(p.158) 10 Ravel’s Timeliness and his Many Late Styles
Source:
Late Style and its Discontents
Author(s):

Barbara L. Kelly

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198704621.003.0011

Ravel’s late style was perceived, even provoked, by his contemporaries; he came to be very conscious of his artistic ageing. This chapter argues that late style is not just about proximity to later life: lateness came to Ravel in middle age because of the historical trauma of the First World War. His later works show certain characteristics associated with ‘late style’; in other respects, his case works against stereotypes of lateness. Ravel’s late period is not one of untroubled productivity; rather, it is aesthetically inconsistent, eclectic, and psychologically revealing. The chapter shows Ravel’s lifelong unwillingness to conform to international expectations: his late Concerto in G limits rather than celebrates his achievement and can be read as a sign of independence, if not of defiance. Late style tells us a good deal about Ravel, about the time in which he created, and about the impact epochal events have on artistic output.

Keywords:   late style, First World War, ageing, aesthetics, eclecticism, nostalgia

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