Maurice Ravel’s Uncommon Courage

Maurice Ravel made his name and fortune as a composer before the First World War, on the strength of the haunting “Pavane de la Belle au bois dormant” from Ma mère l’Oye (1912), the rousing “Danse générale” from Daphnis et Chloé (1909–12) and the heartbreaking “Pavane pour une infante défunte” (1899, 1910).

Despite his fame and poor health, Ravel enlisted at the age of 40 and served in the 13th Artillery…