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Thomas Rüedi Solo Series



Transcribed for Euphonium by


Thomas Rüedi Solo Series

VO C A LISEÉT UDE M A U R I C E R AV E L (18 75 –1937 )

Transcribed for Euphonium by THOMAS RÜEDI


Maurice Ravel’s «Vocalise-étude» (en forme de habanera) was commissioned by A.L. Hettich 1907. Hettich commissioned several contemporary composers to write studies for his singing class at the Paris Conservatory. Originally written for piano in 1895, Ravel rearranged his work as a study for low voice and piano for Mr. Hettich’s class, it was aptly titled «Vocalise-étude», or vocal study. The vocalise was also adapted to the violin and piano and later to many other instruments under the title «Pièce en forme de Habanera». The habanera is a fusion of European and African elements birthed from the English country dance made famous in the 18th century. In the late 18th century, the dance’s regular rhythmic pattern of the French styled version was transformed to the dotted rhythm that has become synonymous with the habanera. While in Cuba, the habanera was transformed from a dance into an art form of piano music by Cuban composers like Manuel Saumell Robredo and Ignacio Cervantes. This new musical form was then exported back to Europe in the 19th century and caught the imagination of many composers, but particularly of French instrumental composers such as: Saint-Saëns, Charbier, Bizet, Debussy, and of course Ravel. Spanish culture and folklore continued to be an inspiration for his compositions throughout his life. This is largely due to the influence of his Basque mother and his friend Ricardo Viñes.


The vocalise is structured A-B-C-B’-A’-C’. When the B and A theme return, Ravel uses only enough of each theme to remind us of it. Throughout the piece the piano is playing the ostinato habanera figure (dotted eighth-sixteenth-eighth-eighth) in the left hand while the right hand is supporting the complex harmonic development underneath the virtuosic vocal line. As the piece nears the end, not only does the tonality become more secure, it also drops considerably in register. It is composed in f minor and does finally resolve with a subtle F major conclusion.


Ravel interestingly chose a slow, seductive dance to showcase rather virtuosic music by both the pianist and soloist. Both of these characteristics are needed to be thought of in the interpretation. The challenging melismatic passages must be under such control that the virtuosity is forgotten by the performer, unnoticed by the listener; only the evanescent beauty should be present. Adding to an already difficult task, a performance shaded with a sense of improvisation in these lines will only further serve the music. The fact that Ravel himself arranged his work as a «vocalise-étude» gives us insight into his thoughts of the music. When approached as a vocal piece instead of an instrumental one, a certain finesse can be expected. The music should also be approached as an etude in the sense of careful study. Using the wide variety of articulations to better affect and support the music, mindful not to make it a caricature. The triplets in both of the parts are to be carefully stylized so they do not become swung nor dotted eighth-sixteenths. It’s the rub of a not-quite-square Spanish hemiola the should be celebrated by both performers and gives this entire work substance. The glissandi can be half-valved in a way that produces maximum tone throughout the entire span of the glissando. It can prove difficult at first, but a successful glissando will be even in dynamic and tone and sound effortless. It will not disturb the musical line or come off as a special effect.


While this piece has been arranged for many instruments in the past, there has not yet been an arrangement which takes the strengths and tone characteristics into careful consideration. While in most arrangements the melody is simply lowered an octave, which is even playable on euphonium, it is not in the instrument’s or the music’s best interests. For that reason, the tonality has been lowered one whole step, while the euphonium line is then lowered an octave and whole step from the original.


á March 7, 1875 in Ciboure, France † Decembre 28, 1937 in Paris, France Ravel entered the Paris Conservatory as a piano student at the age of 14 (1889). While he displayed promise as a pianist, his broad interests led his focus elsewhere and he was eventually removed from his classes in 1895. Two years later, he rejoined the conservatory as a composition student of Fauré. Fauré saw Ravel as the curious man he was and he encouraged Ravel to follow his individual musical identity that was coming to surface, regardless how it was received by others. The head of the conservatory at the time did not share in Fauré’s support of Ravel’s progressive ideas, musically or politically, and in 1900 had him expelled from the conservatory a second time, though Ravel remained an auditor on Fauré’s class for 3 more years. Ravel was celebrated not only as a composer but also as an orchestrator. Famous for his orchestral works «Bolero» and «Daphnis et Chloé», he has also earned much acclaim for his orchestration of Mussorgsky’s «Pictures at an Exhibition». Ravel was such a meticulous composer, there are often two scores for every piece he’s written: a piano score, and its final orchestration. Due to his love of the American poet Edgar Allen Poe, he also shared Poe’s philosophy of writing the entire work in his head before committing any of it to paper. With this method in mind, one can understand that Ravel understands and means every bit of detail in his scores.


1920 Moved 50 km outside of Paris to isolate himself from his critics. 1930 Completed the commission of his famous piano concerto for left hand. 1931 Ravel’s first tour to North America, was a huge international success.

Thomas Rüedi Solo Series

The Thomas Rüedi Solo Series is a collection of selected masterpieces arranged for euphonium and piano. This series strives to enrich the solo repertoire for euphonium, thus opening a window into the fascinating world of some of the leading composers of the Baroque and Romantic period. By studying these famous works, the performer develops a more profound musicianship and a more defined awareness of style and musical beauty. Audiences in turn, may appreciate hearing these beloved masterpieces performed in a fresh voice – the wonderful lyrical expression of the euphonium!

No. 01

Granados, Enrique

Madrigal Romantic

No. 02

Schubert, Franz

Sonata for Arpeggione - First Movement Romantic

No. 03

Offenbach, Jacques

Les Larmes de Jacqueline Romantic

No. 04

Ravel, Maurice

Vocalise-étude Romantic

No. 05

Tchaikovsky, Pytor Ilyich

Andante Cantabile Romantic

No. 06

De Falla, Manuel

Ritual Firedance Romantic

No. 07

Fauré, Gabriel

Sicilienne Romantic

No. 08

Schubert, Franz

Moments Musicaux Romantic

No. 09

Toselli, Enrico

Serenata Romantic

No. 10

Bridge, Frank

Four Short Pieces Romantic

No. 11

Scarlatti, Alessandro

Sonata No. 1 in D minor Baroque

No. 12

Gabrielli, Domenico

Sonata No. 1 in G major Baroque follow me on:

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THOMAS RÜEDI is a Swiss-born international euphonium artist, music educator and arranger. His solo engagements have led him throughout Europe, Africa, Asia, South America and the USA. Thomas Rüedi’s solo CDs «Elégie» and «Madrigal», both featuring his own arrangements, received international recognition. Thomas Rüedi is professor of euphonium and chamber music at Bern University of the Arts and Lucerne University of the Arts; as a guest professor he regularly gives master classes throughout Europe and overseas. Thomas Rüedi is also an acclaimed arranger and composer, thus supporting the further development and enrichment of the euphonium repertoire.

THOMAS RÜEDI is a BESSON performing artist.


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Partitur Nr. 04 VOCALISE-ETUDE  

Thomas Rüedi Solo Series Werkbeschreibung (ohne Noten) für Euphonium

Partitur Nr. 04 VOCALISE-ETUDE  

Thomas Rüedi Solo Series Werkbeschreibung (ohne Noten) für Euphonium