Collections: Revealing Ravel

Shortly after D.J. Hoek became head of Northwestern’s Music Library in 2004, he made his first major acquisition: a Maurice Ravel (1875–1937) manuscript that included a complete, unpublished four-voice fugue — essentially a “new” work from the 20th century French composer’s student days.

Working with Central Michigan University musicology associate professor and former Music Library employee Keith Clifton (GBSM93, 98), Hoek decided to give the work its world premiere. After close study and careful transcription of the manuscript, Clifton, who had done his dissertation on Ravel, and music theorist Scott Schouest produced an edited version of the fugue suitable for performance.

A quartet of top string students from the Bienen School of Music performed the piece for the first time in April 2010, and in December 2011 University Library published a facsimile of the manuscript along with the transcribed score. 

Hoek said the manuscript presents incredible research opportunities and fulfills the Music Library’s mission to collect unique music materials.

“This is more than a research document,” he said. “It’s the source for a musical work that was previously unknown. Now it’s part of our identity.”

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