NPR logo Ravel's 'Le Tombeau de Couperin'

Ravel's 'Le Tombeau de Couperin'

Maurice Ravel was a truck driver in the military transport service during World War I. He was surrounded by the horrors of war and yet paradoxically the music he wrote in response to that war contains none of that darkness. In fact his “Le Tombeau de Couperin” is one of his most brilliant compositions. Dedicated to his friends who lost their lives, the piece is a surprisingly delicate response to the terrible realities of war. Commentator Rob Kapilow explains why Ravel chose not to compose a tragic requiem: “it’s so deeply characteristic of Ravel that he would find a kind of solace and comfort by distancing himself from those horrors in a kind of exquisitely re-imagined archaic suite of French dance forms from the past.” Listen as Rob talks with Fred Child about what makes "Le Tombeau de Couperin" so great.

Men of the French infantry crossing a pontoon bridge in France during World War I, circa 1916. Hulton Archive/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Related NPR Stories