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He made some orchestral arrangements of other composers' music, of which his 1922 version of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition is the best known.
As a slow and painstaking worker, Ravel composed fewer pieces than did many of his contemporaries.
He liked to experiment with musical form, as in his best-known work, Boléro (1928), in which repetition takes the place of development.
Henri Gautier-Villars ("Willy") described the piece as "a jolting debut: a clumsy plagiarism of the Russian School" and called Ravel a "mediocrely gifted debutant Around 1900, Ravel and a number of innovative young artists, poets, critics, and musicians joined together in an informal group; they came to be known as Les Apaches ("The Hooligans"), a name coined by Viñes to represent their status as "artistic outcasts".
They met regularly until the beginning of the First World War, and members stimulated one another with intellectual argument and performances of their works.
From the 1920s, despite limited technique as a pianist or conductor, he took part in recordings of several of his works; others were made under his supervision.
Ravel was born in the Basque town of Ciboure, France, near Biarritz, 18 kilometres (11 mi) from the Spanish border.