Classical Piece of the Week: Tzigane

Classical Piece of the Week

Missed the last one? Here’s a link to Élégie in E Flat Minor, Op. 3, No.1.


Tzigane by Maurice Ravel is daring, smart, and innovative. Written for violin and piano, it is a piece that demands a high level of virtuosity. “Tzigane” is the French word for “gypsy”, as this piece was inspired by Ravel’s interest in gypsies and the Hungarian culture.

It begins with the violin, unaccompanied. It is a demanding and unforgiving melody, healthily coated by sheer musicality. Every bow stroke produces an incredibly powerful, rounded sound, and its resonance is subtly hinted in the subsequent notes. As the violin starts playing double stop trills, the piano rolls in, gently like the waves, densely like the storm. Both instruments work together to reach a climatic point, marking the beginning of a lighter, more jovial gypsy theme. 

The violin is teasing, the piano determined. Both stand out, both inharmoniously merge together effortlessly. There isn’t much of a pattern, rather different styles of gypsy music combined together, all of them offering a piece to complete Tzigane’s puzzle. Some are strong, some are shy, some are both. This piece is passion and excitement, with a little hysteria thrown in. And so faithful to its personality, Tzigane ends in an absolute frenzy, violin and piano and music boiling to a point that would seem inconceivable at any other time.

Try to capture its fury before it captures you.


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