Le Tombeau de Ravel / Chamber Ensemble Works (Conventional) / Concert Music

Le Tombeau de Ravel

Le Tombeau de Ravel, 1999-2002 (35′)

for violin, cello, and piano

The Fall of 2001 was a difficult time in my life, a time that was centered around events relating to death and dying. My mother had been killed in a car accident the previous year and my grandmother was in the hospital with little hope for survival; the second Palestinian Intifada had been raging for a year in Israel, with death tolls mounting on both sides of the struggle; and the September 11 attacks on New York City had struck close to the downtown Manhattan apartment where I grew up, and where I was living at the time. While in college, I had written a short work for piano trio that I considered a major step forward in my compositional development, and which I had hoped to at some point turn into a longer, multi-movement piece. The short movement was loosely based on the first movement of Ravel’s Piano Trio, one of the most important pieces of music in my life, and in 2001 it seemed appropriate and necessary to finish my own trio. Ravel had written his own memorial work in 1917, Le Tombeau de Couperin, dedicating each movement to friends who had died in World War I; I turned to this work for its memorial quality, and to the Piano Trio for its musical framework. Le Tombeau de Ravel is in four movements, played attacca, with many interconnections across the movements. The second, third, and fourth movements are each a response to the first, and are loosely modeled on their respective movements in the Ravel Trio. The fourth movement is disproportionally long, encompassing nearly half the length of the piece, and contains a reflective middle section that echoes similar sections in Le Tombeau de Couperin. I left the first movement as I finished it in 1999; in this way, the work also deals with memory, and helps me personally to bridge the gap between two very different periods in my life.