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Maurice Ravel  

Ma mère l'oye

Ballet 1911. Time: 16'00.

After the piano work. Ma mère l'oye = Mother Goose.

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Ma mère l'oye (Mother Goose) is a musical work by French composer Maurice Ravel.


Piano versions

Ravel originally wrote Ma mère l'oye as a piano duet for the Godebski children, Mimi and Jean, ages 6 and 7. Ravel dedicated this work for four hands to the children (just as he had dedicated an earlier work, Sonatine to their parents). Jeanne Leleu and Geneviève Durony premiered the work.

The piece was transcribed for solo piano by Ravel's friend Jacques Charlot the same year as it was published (1910). The first movement of Ravel's Le tombeau de Couperin is also dedicated to Charlot.

Both piano versions bear the subtitle "cinq pièces enfantines" (five children's pieces). The five "pieces" were as follows:

  • I. Pavane de la belle au bois dormant
Pavane of Sleeping Beauty
  • II. Petit Poucet
Little Tom Thumb / Hop o' My Thumb
Très modéré
  • III. Laideronnette, impératrice des pagodes
Little Ugly Girl, Empress of the Pagodas
Mouvt de marche
  • IV. Les entretiens de la belle et de la bête
Conversation of Beauty and the Beast
Mouvt de valse très modéré
  • V. Le jardin féerique
The Fairy Garden
Lent et grave

On several of the scores, Ravel included quotes to indicate clearly what he was trying to invoke. For example, for the second "piece":

"Il croyait trouver aisément son chemin par le moyen de son pain qu'il avait semé partout où il avait passé; mais il fut bien surpris lorsqu'il ne put retrouver une seule miette: les oiseaux étaient venus qui avaient tout mangé. (Ch. Perrault)"
["He believed he'd easily find his way because of the bread that he'd strewn all along his path; but he was very surprised to find not a single crumb: the birds had come and eaten everything." (Charles Perrault)]

Sleeping Beauty and Little Tom Thumb were based on the tales of Charles Perrault, while Little Ugly Girl, Empress of the Pagodas was inspired by a tale (The Green Serpent) by Perrault's "rival" Madame d'Aulnoy. In this movement, Ravel takes advantage of the pentatonic scale. Beauty and the Beast is based upon the version of Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont. The origin of The Fairy Garden is not entirely known. The "Mouvt de marche" of Little Ugly Girl uses quartal harmony:

Ravel Ma Mere l'Oye Laideronnette.PNG

Orchestrated work

In 1911, Ravel orchestrated the work. Then, in 1912, he expanded it into a ballet adding new movements ("Prélude" and "Danse du rouet et scène") and interludes:

  • I. Prélude
Très lent
  • II. Premier tableau - Danse du rouet et scène
Spinning Wheel Dance and Scene
  • III. Deuxième tableau - Pavane de la belle au bois dormant
  • IV. Interlude
  • V. Troisième tableau - Les entretiens de la belle et de la bête
  • VI. Interlude
  • VII. Quatrième tableau - Petit Poucet
  • VIII. Interlude
  • IX. Cinquième tableau - Laideronnette, impératrice des Pagodes
  • X. Interlude
  • XI. Sixième tableau - Le jardin féerique

It was premiered on 29 January 1912 at the Théâtre des Arts in Paris[1]


The orchestrated work requires 2 flutes (one doubling on piccolo), 2 oboes (one doubling on English horn), 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, (one doubling on contrabassoon), 2 French Horns, Timpani, Bass Drum, cymbals, triangle, tamtam, Glockenspiel, Xylophone, Celesta, Strings, Harp. (no trumpets, trombones, or tuba)


  1. ^ Concert Booklet of HKPO by Marc Rochester

External links

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Ma_M%C3%A8re_l%27Oye". Allthough most Wikipedia articles provide accurate information accuracy can not be guaranteed.

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