The Curious tale of Maurice Ravel's Piano duo "Frontispice"





This duo for two pianos (five hands) was a work that Ravel, apparently hard up for cash, attempted to publish as part of a Paris fashion magazine, in contravention of his sole-rights publishing agreement with the music publishers, Durand et Fils.  It duly appeared, the first composition by a famous composer to be printed among fashion illustrations and articles, but Durand, alerted to what they regarded as piracy, promptly clapped a court interdict on its distribution.  Thousands of copies already printed had to be destroyed in terms of a court order, and only a few contraband copies survived the ban. Mr Adler found two of them in the attic of  an old Paris dealer in antique music where they had been all but forgotten for many years.
He was able to confound the only surviving pupil of Ravel, Vlado Perlemuter, the Paris concert pianist, who had earlier told Mr Adler that, as one with close knowledge of Ravel's work for many years, he knew that no such work as Frontispice had been written. (Sunday Times newspaper, ZA, June 1 1957)                
This is why the work remained unknown until the late 1950s



The British Museum, acknowledging receipt of the gift of a copy of the Magazine and Ravel’s “Frontispice”, which they had been unable to obtain.




The 1919 fashion magazine publication




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