Jeux d'eau (Fountains) - Maurice Ravel

Jeux d’eau (Fountains) - by Maurice Ravel is a solo piano piece composed in 1901 and dedicated to his friend José Vianna da Motta. It is considered Ravel's first mature masterpiece for piano and set the standard for modern French piano music.

History and Release

Jeux d’Eau was first performed at Societé Nationale de Musique, in April 1902. It also received positive reviews from contemporary music journals such as Le Ménestrel, who wrote that it “expresses with admirable graciousness the charm of a nightwatch at a fountain.” Later, during a recital tour to London, Amsterdam and Spain, Ravel incorporated Jeux d’Eau in his piano repertoire.

The piece is orchestrated for two pianos and strings in 1905, and later reorchestrated for one piano in two hands. It was also adapted by Ravel for saxophone, which was published in 1920.


Jeux d’Eau uses a form of rondo such as A-B-A-C-A’, where A, B and C are different musical ideas or sections. The theme is presented initially in the right hand, then in the left, both hands in octaves, and then echoed in octaves with the lower notes fleshed out in contrary motion.

The piece is typically played as a sequence of chords, which move in parallel motion. The melodic pattern uses whole and half tones in an irregular order thus giving the piece a certain lyrical ambiguity. The second section in A-B-A-C-A’ is the most intricate part because it combines the whole and half tones with centric variations and extensive modulations.


Jeux d’Eau has become one of Ravel’s most popular compositions and a staple of piano repertoire. This is likely due to its delightful character, brief duration, and its technical accessibility for intermediate level pianists. The wonderful melody and shimmering textures created by its rippling ostinato patterns give a refreshing water-like effect suitable for daytime entertainment.

Ravel’s Jeux d’Eau has become an essential solo piece of the pianist repertoire. Its complicated and delightful form provides an effective introduction to Ravel's music, while its captivating melody and shimmering textures, create a water-like effect that is impossible to resist.

Publication date: 19. 02. 2023