Ravel Edition

Introduction and Allegro

Introduction and Allegro


for Harp, Flute, Clarinet and String Quartet

(expanded for chamber orchestra)

This new revised edition 2023 (Ravel Edition Volume 9) is edited by François Dru 

The reading committee : Anaëlle Tourret (harpist), Benjamin Attahir  et Jean-Pascal Beintus (compositers)

A close examination of the Catalogue des Œuvres de Maurice Ravel, published in March 1991 [1] by Durand, the composer’s primary publisher since November 1905 [2], reveals an interesting observation. Alongside the “symphonic fragments” from Daphnis et Chloé, the 5 Pièces enfantines from Mother Goose and Rapsodie espagnole, the “Orchestral Music” section on page 6 also references the composer’s Introduction and Allegro, announcing that the “solo harp part”, the “orchestral score”, the “orchestral parts” and “each additional part” are available for purchase. This allusion to the work being part of the orchestral catalogue is repeated in an extended edition of the same resource published in July 1914 [3], and was also reinforced several decades later, for example in the 1931 edition of the monographic publication

To understand why and how a work originally written for chamber ensemble was broadened to enter the orchestral sphere, we must look back to a time when, in order to achieve widespread distribution, a work could feasibly be released in the form of multiple arrangements, transcriptions and genres, sometimes in dubious taste, without any moral or aesthetic qualms. This concept is what Ravel modestly referred to as “publisher’s desire” in a letter from 26 February 1911 in response to D.E. Inghelbrecht [4], stating “(…) As for the harp piece, it’s not, strictly speaking, an orchestral work. 7 instruments in total. But that could be resolved. The string quartet could be doubled, tripled. And, if we keep a few soli sections, it would sound even better than the original (…)”[5].

Although this Introduction and Allegro, composed in June 1905 [6] and revised, certainly in the harp part, before it was finally published in July 1906 [7], was performed for the first time on 22 February 1907[8] in its original chamber format, the score quickly became a familiar ingredient of matinée orchestral concerts. There is indeed evidence of public performances in Paris “for harp and orchestra” under the fingertips of harpist Micheline Kahn, for example: on 7  April 1913 with the Orchestre des Concerts Hasselmans [9]; on 30 January 1915 at the Salle Gaveau during an “Yvette Guilbert matinée” “for harp and orchestra”[10]; and on 27 February 1927 with the Orchestre de la Société des concerts du Conservatoire under the baton of P. Gaubert for “harp and small orchestra”[11]. Or, if we look beyond the Parisian scene: on 25 February 1933 in Saint-Etienne “for harp and orchestra”[12], and on 15 September 1938 in Biarritz “for harp, string orchestra, flute and clarinet”[13], as well as radio broadcasts under the baton of Inghelbrecht on 5 June 1937[14] and 4 March 1938 [15], both “for harp and orchestra”. On the other side of the Atlantic, conducted by W. Damrosch [16] in December 1916, it was another of A. Hasselmans’ students, C. Salzedo [17], who gave the American première with orchestra: a leading representative of the American harp school, who went on to cement this orchestral arrangement as standard in the US. Intriguingly, a number of concert posters seem to introduce a great deal of confusion surrounding the original version and its orchestral adaptation, namely the flyer for the October 1922 Milan Ravel Festival, which advertises the Introduction et Allegro “for orchestra reduced to quintet”[18].

It should be noted that, alongside the widespread adoption of a full string section, the idea of a conductor beating in front of the septet of instrumentalists was rapidly endorsed due to the complex nature of the work, peppered with harp cadenzas, both long and short, and major metronomic shifts between sections [19]. Maurice Ravel himself was even regularly asked to conduct performances of his work, both for concerts and phonograms [20]. 

Once we had established that the composer had indeed given his approval regarding the use of a string section, we set about searching for the existence of a “historic” score in this format, written either by the composer himself or his publisher. However, setting Ravel’s letter to Inghelbrecht to one side, there is unfortunately little to report. To our knowledge, there are no musical texts other than the 1905-1906 manuscripts for septet or the 1906 Durand engraving in seven parts. All arrangements for string section with “a few soli passages”, according to Ravel’s notes, were executed directly on the conductors’ orchestral scores. This is something that we have been able to confirm upon an examination of several copies, with string deskings added on by hand (8-8-6-4 without double bass requested by Igor Markevitch, or with a double bass section according to the notes on the cello stave for Pierre Boulez, who acquired his score in February 1946 [21], etc.). The Orchestre Lamoureux library has an undated “historic” score for strings, which includes 6 violin 1 parts, 5 violin 2 parts, 4 violas and 3 cellos. The Digital Archives of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra also drew our attention to a handwritten double bass part, which unfortunately is not dated. For our 2023 revised edition, we have included an Ad libitum double bass part, which, like the soli/tutti sequences, are just suggestions that the performer is free to accept or alter [22].

Reflecting on this alternative arrangement of Ravel’s Introduction and Allegro also led us to address the original musical text and its initial engraving: a task that raised several questions regarding editorial choices, and uncovered inevitable engraving errors and copying issues introduced by the composer himself. An examination of the three available manuscripts [23], kept at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin (USA), shed further light on the difficulties encountered by Ravel in achieving the elaborate writing that harpists were accustomed to seeing (something he shared with many acclaimed composers), in an attempt to avoid producing something that was too pianistic, but that instead used the full potential of the instrument, which during the early 20th century saw a huge expansion in its technical and expressive capabilities. 

The black ink autograph manuscript of the orchestral score used to produce the Durand engraving, neither dated nor signed, but scattered with pencilled editorial codes, presents an interesting pencil marking on the front cover in the composer’s handwriting: “M. Hasselmans, 123 av. Wagram”, the name and address of a highly esteemed harpist. This curious finding suggests that a meeting took place, perhaps so that the Belgian-French maestro, then aged sixty [24], could provide Ravel with valuable advice and corrections when the work was first drafted. As well as Ravel’s hand-inked solo harp part, containing attempted pedal markings [25], numerous corrections and other crossings out (with around forty bars on the last page entirely scribbled out with rage in thick blue pencil), we unearthed another harp part: one with far more extensive markings specific to the solo instrument, which was clearly used for the 1906 [26] engraving. However, this formidable creation, undated and altered through several sticky notes and pencil corrections, was absolutely not produced by Ravel’s hand, and we have been unable to determine who indeed did produce this performance-ready score [27], which differs significantly to the one printed by Durand for the work’s concert première. An exciting discovery and one that has been central to our editorial mission: rather than the usual single solo part, we have had invaluable access to four different versions [28] representing successive stages of the work’s evolution, enabling us to fully appreciate all the efforts that went into conceptualising and finalising a masterpiece that is still to this day an indisputable benchmark in the harp repertoire.

François Dru – January 2023  (Reproducing this text in full or in part is strictly prohibited without prior authorisation from Ravel Edition).

[1] A copy of this publication is available at the BnF, reference 8-Vm Pièce-4528.

[2] With the publication of the composer’s Sonatine for piano (Durand D&F 6624).

[3] BnF 8-Vm Pièce-4444 (Bnf 8-Vm Pièce 4529 for the 1931 edition).

[4] We assume that the initial question posed by D.E. Inghelbrecht (1880-1965) concerned the use of a septet during a concert for small orchestra. It should be noted that Inghelbrecht composed a quintet for harp and strings (published by Alphonse Leduc in 1920). The letter is currently at the NYC Morgan Library, MLT R252-148(3).

[5] Ravel then adds, on the back of the same letter: “(…) By Debussy, all that exists, to my knowledge, are the 2 dances for chromatic harp and string quintet (…)” [composed in 1904, with “for chromatic harp and string orchestra” written on the front page of the handwritten manuscript, BnF MS-1012].

[6] In a letter dated 11 June 1905 to Jean Marnold, Ravel states : “(...) I have been terribly worried the last few days following my departure, due to a harp piece commissioned by Érard. With 8 days of relentless work and 3 sleepless nights, I did it, somehow” in  Maurice Ravel, L’intégrale - Correspondance (1895-1937), écrits et entretiens, Le Passeur Éditeur, Paris, 2018, page 104.

[7] Cf. Nigel Simeone in Mother goose and other golden eggs: Durand Editions of Ravel as reflected in the firm’s printing records. IAML Publications UK, 1998 Vol. 35 n°2, pages 58-79.

[8] Le Figaro, 22 February 1907, page 5: “This afternoon, the Cercle Musical will perform its sixth chamber concert at the Société française de photographie, 51 rue de Clichy, between 4 pm and 6 pm. This concert will almost exclusively be dedicated to works by Maurice Ravel, with the support of Mrs Jane Bathori, Miss Kahn, Mr. R. Viñes, Mr M. Ravel, Mr P. Gaubert, Mr Pichard and the Firmin Touche Quartet. The programme will notably include the première performance of Ravel’s septet, “Introduction et Allegro”, for harp, flute, clarinet and string quartet (...)”.

[9] Between Pelléas et Mélisande by G. Fauré and Capriccio espagnol by Rimsky-Korsakov. Conducted by Louis Hasselmans (1878-1957), son of Alphonse Hasselmans (1845-1912), Belgian harpist and teacher of Micheline Kahn (1889-1987) at the Paris Conservatoire. Cf. L’Echo de Paris, 7 April 1913, page 5.

[10] Cf. Le Figaro, 26 January 1915, page 4.

[11] Cf. L’Echo de Paris, 27 February 1927, page 5.

[12] With the association des Concerts du Conservatoire de Saint-Etienne, conducted by Edmond Maurat. Cf. Le Mémorial de la Loire et de la Haute -Loire, 24 February 1933, page 3.

[13] Chamber orchestra, conducted by J. Calvet. Casino de Biarritz. Cf. La Gazette de Bayonne, 15 September 1938.

[14] Radio Paris with the Orchestre National. Between Macbeth by R. Strauss and Diane de Poitiers by J. Ibert.

[15] With the Orchestre National, after Rapsodie espagnole, and before the French première of Jeux de cartes by I. Stravinsky. Cf. L’Art musical, 4 March 1938, page 570.


[17] Carlos Salzedo (1885-1961) was born in Arcachon and studied at the Conservatoire de Paris, going on to freelance as second harpist with the Orchestre Lamoureux. He later swapped France for the United States, where he joined the Met Orchestra in New York. In 1925, during a series of concerts in Paris, he performed the harp and piano arrangement of Ravel’s Introduction et Allegro. Cf. La Revue musicale, 1 July 1925, pages 72-73

[18] Cf.  Comoedia, 26 October 1922.

[19] Several publications (Orenstein 1975/1991, Marnat 1985, L’Intégrale 2018, etc.), mention Charles Domergue (1878-1931) as conductor of the première in 1907. However, although this information is implicitly conveyed, there does not seem to be any proper written proof. Moreover, whilst the “Director” of the Cercle Musical, which organised these concert series, was later recognised as a composer, it was actually his father Charles-Louis Domergue, known as Domergue de la Chaussée, who died in 1912 (Cf. Comoedia, 28 August 1912, page 2), who had a career as an acclaimed conductor in Antwerp, Paris, Angers and Bordeaux, and not his son. 

[20] “(...) and our Ravel, on the conductor’s podium, sternly conducting his Introduction et Allegro, dressed in a brown jacket and checked trousers, with a delicate bow-tie tightly wrapped around a detachable collar!” In Hélène Jourdan-Morhange, Ravel et nous, Éditions du Milieu du Monde, Geneva, 1945. Page 64. “(...) the composer conducted his work himself (...)”, Concerts Durand, Salle Érard, Paris, 15 March 1913. Cf. Le Monde artistique, page 166. “Finally, Mr Maurice Ravel conducted his Introduction et Allegro himself (...)”, Récital Ravel, Opéra-comique, Paris, 24 January 1926. Cf. Le Soir, 26 January 1926, page 2. The label on the Columbia L1518 78 rpm recording of harpist Miss Gwendolen Mason’s performance in London in October 1923 also specifies “conducted by the composer”.

[21] Igor Markevitch’s Durand orchestral score BnF VMH-8991, Pierre Boulez’s orchestral parts BnF 4-VM FONDS 148 BLZ-411.

[22] We also recommend listening to, for example, the following recordings with string sections: N. Zabaleta, RSO Berlin and F. Fricsay, 1957, DG 17135; N. Zabaleta, Ensemble de Chambre Paul Kuentz, dir. P. Kuentz, 1969, DG 139134; Pierre Jamet, Orchestre de chambre de la Société de musique de chambre de Paris, dir. P. Capdevielle, 1955,  Ducretet Thomson LPP8632; Edward Druzinsky, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, dir. Jean Martinon, 1968, RCA LSC-3093. 

[23] Carlton Lake Collection. Box 302.7.

[24] Hélène Jourdan-Morhange states: “(...) It was the seductive Micheline Kahn who gave the première performance. (...) She was at the Conservatoire, and despite being just a young girl [17 in 1907], was chosen by her teacher Hasselmans as the only one capable of understanding and appreciating the music of Ravel”. Op. cit.

[25] In two different handwritings.

[26] With markings in pencil on the first page regarding commercial information, copyright date, printer’s name, etc.

[27] Micheline Kahn? Alphonse Hasselmans?

[28] Orchestral score, composer’s solo part, the extra solo part written by someone else, which was the basis for the engraving, and the Durand engraving, in addition to the solo part of the piano adaptation, by Ravel, for the two-piano version (Durand D&F 6811, published in November 1906 [the manuscript of this reduction is thought to be in the Taverne Collection]).

The score and the parts are available for sale. Contact: sales@21-music.be

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