Around 1900, Maurice Ravel joined a group of innovative young artists, poets, critics, and musicians referred to as Les Apaches or “hooligans”, a term coined by Ricardo Viñes to refer to his band of “artistic outcasts”. To pay tribute to his fellow artists, Ravel began composing Miroirs in 1904 and finished it the following year. Miroirs has five movements, each dedicated to a member of Les Apaches. 

Ravel composed Alborada del Gracioso (4th part of Miroirs) as a piano piece in 1905, and is one of the three pieces which he later transcribed for full orchestra, immediately became one of his most popular works. The original piano version, with its impossibly fast repeated notes (it remains a challenge to all but the most skilled pianists), is so rich and evocative that orchestrating it must have seemed redundant at first. But, perhaps more than any musician of his time, Ravel had an extraordinary ear for sonority and color. 

Alborada means morning music, just as serenade means night music.  In the common Spanish tradition, it’s simply any music performed at daybreak, often to celebrate a festival or honor a person — or both. To his Alborada, however, Ravel adds del gracioso, clouding the picture with the introduction of the standard grotesque lover, akin to Don Quixote of ancient Castillian comedy. 

Publisher: → Baton Music