About this work
Ravel's student works, while significant and attractive in themselves, are especially interesting as an indication of how his mature style was formed. The "Ballade de la Reine morte d'aimer" reveals some of his earliest influences, notably Wagner, the Russian school, Chabrier, and Erik Satie. Composed in 1893, this song betrays Ravel's first meeting with Satie through its generous use of modal harmonies. Opening in the Dorian mode and remaining in the key of B-natural throughout, it also reflects the ironic and archaic flavor of the text by the little-known Belgian author and journalist Roland de Marès (1874-1955). (The poem first appeared in the collection "Ariettes douloureuses" from 1892.) This song is also noteworthy for its bell-like sonorities, tolling the "Supreme hosanna of the Queen who died of love." Ravel's lasting fascination with bells - which was at least partially inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's famously musical poem, "The Bells" - was later revealed in the piano pieces "Entre cloches" ("Among Bells") and "La Vallée des cloches" ("The Valley of the Bells").