Miroirs (Mirrors) - Maurice Ravel

Miroirs (Mirrors) - Maurice Ravel is a solo piano piece composed in 1905, dedicated to one of Ravel's close friends, the Swiss-born French painter and writer, Robert Delaunay. The piece consists of five movements, each of which have a unique musical identity, ranging from folk-inspired rhythms to symphonic force. It is a remarkable work in the early 20th-century musical style often referred to as musical Impressionism.

History and Release

Miroirs (Mirrors) was originally composed as a series of five solo piano pieces arranged for a private concert in Paris in 1905. It was not until 1920 that it was re-arranged for the larger concert hall upon commission from Alfred Cortot. It was premiered two years later in Paris with Cortot at the keyboard. After the premiere Miroirs (Mirrors) was released to the public and was lauded for its innovative form and approach to composition.

The composition is dedicated to Robert Delaunay, a close friend of Ravel and one of the most influential of the French-born artists of the early 20th century. Delaunay has been credited for introducing Ravel to the artistic movement known as Orphism, which attempted to explore the relationship between visual art and music.

Simplified analysis of the composition

Miroirs (Mirrors) is divided into five distinct sections. The first movement, ‘Noctuelles’ (Moths) is in the form of a nocturne. This movement is mostly lyrical with some chromatic flourishes near the end.

The second movement, 'Oiseaux Registres' (Birds of Paradise) is one of the most famous movements in the work. It is a meditative, romantic piece with a disjunct ostinato in the left hand and ornamental runs in the right hand.

The third movement, 'Une Barque sur l'Océan' (A Boat on the Ocean) is a scene of waves crashing against a boat, with octaves in the left hand simulating the waves and the right hand creating a dissonantly-rich airy atmosphere around the boat.

The fourth movement, 'Alborada del Gracioso' (Dawn Song of the Jester) is a traditional Spanish-style piece featuring characteristic upbeat rhythms, arpeggios, and frequent dynamic changes that give the music a liveliness.

The fifth and final movement, 'La Valle des Cloches' (The Vale of the Bells) is the closing section, and is marked by a continuous bell-like sound for nearly all of its duration, which is created by a repeated eighth note and halting in punctuations.

Why Piece is so popular

Miroirs (Mirrors) is one of the most beloved solo piano pieces of the early 20th century. Its popularity is largely due to Ravel's artful blending of Impressionist harmonies and rhythms to create a unique soundscape of beauty and charm. Its five distinct movements each have their own unique identity, creating a musical journey of constantly-evolving sounds and emotions.

The piece has inspired many musical works since its release and has been performed by some of the most renowned pianists of the past century. It is a testament to Ravel's excellence as a composer and to his commitment to pushing the boundaries of musical composition.


Miroirs (Mirrors) is one of Maurice Ravel's masterpieces, a collection of five stunningly complex yet distinct movements for solo piano. It is highly acclaimed for its innovative use of Impressionist harmonies and rhythms, and its influence can still be seen in musical works to this day. It is a must-hear for any fan of Ravel's music, and for anyone interested in the music of the early 20th century.

Publication date: 19. 02. 2023