Gabriel Faure (1845-1924) is one of the best French composers of his era. His artistic independence served to inspire many of the next generation of French composers seeking to create a new Gallic identity after World War I. His reforms at the Paris Conservatoire were the most radical the institution had yet experienced. This book gives equal weight to Faure's private and public lives, profiling the man behind the music, and going beyond the usual perception of Faure as a dreamy, unworldly individual to reveal his ambition and decisiveness in his struggle to achieve recognition from France's musical establishment. This stimulating biography, which charts Faure's long and difficult rise to fame, both illuminates his individuality and reveals his enduring legacy to French music.
Jean-Michel Nectoux's important biography of Gabriel Faure is the most comprehensive study yet of this central figure of fin de siecle France. It traces the composer's life and the rich cultural milieu in which he lived and worked: the world also of Saint-Saens, Flaubert, Verlaine, Ravel, Debussy and Proust. A large part of the book considers Faure's music, with particular emphasis on his adjustment to the musical language of the twentieth century and the formation of his late style. Works in all genres are discussed in detail. The book is the fruit of over twenty years' research by Nectoux, the foremost authority on Gabriel Faure. In the process of writing this definitive study, he read more than 5000 previously unpublished letters and unearthed more than 120 musical manuscripts. The book includes several rare photographs from Faure's lifetime and contains an extended chronology of the composer's life, a complete chronological listing of all his own works and a detailed bibliography.
Faure and French Musical Aesthetics
This wide-ranging study of Gabriel Faure and his contemporaries reclaims aesthetic categories crucial to French musical life in the early twentieth century. Its interrelated chapters treat the topics of sincerity, originality, novelty, self-renewal, homogeneity and religious belief in relation to Faure's music and ideas. Taking a broad view of cultural life during the composer's lifetime and beyond, the book moves between specific details in Faure's music and related critical, literary and philosophical issues, ranging from Gounod to Boulez and from Proust to Valery. Above all, the book connects abstract values to artistic choices and thus places such works as Faure's Requiem, La bonne chanson, La chanson d'Eve, L'horizon chimerique, and the chamber music in a new light.
Gabriel Faure: The Songs and their Poets
The career of Gabriel Faure as a composer of songs for voice and piano traverses six decades (1862-1921); almost the whole history of French melodie is contained within these parameters. In the 1860s Faure, the lifelong protege of Camille Saint-SaA"ns, was a suavely precocious student; he was part of Pauline Viardot's circle in the 1870s and he nearly married her daughter. Pointed in the direction of symbolist poetry by Robert de Montesquiou in 1886, Faure was the favoured composer from the early 1890s of Winnarretta Singer, later Princesse de Polignac, and his songs were revered by Marcel Proust. In 1905 he became director of the Paris Conservatoire, and he composed his most profound music in old age. His existence, steadily productive and outwardly imperturbable, was undermined by self-doubt, an unhappy marriage and a tragic loss of hearing. In this detailed study Graham Johnson places the vocal music within twin contexts: Faure's own life story, and the parallel lives of his many poets. We encounter such giants as Charles Baudelaire and Paul Verlaine, the patrician Leconte de Lisle, the forgotten Armand Silvestre and the Belgian symbolist Charles Van Lerberghe. The chronological range of the narrative encompasses Faure's first poet, Victor Hugo, who railed against Napoleon III in the 1850s, and the last, Jean de La Ville de Mirmont, killed in action in the First World War. In this comprehensive and richly illustrated study each of Faure's 109 songs receives a separate commentary. Additional chapters for the student singer and serious music lover discuss interpretation and performance in both aesthetical and practical terms. Richard Stokes provides parallel English translations of the original French texts. In the twenty-first century musical modernity is evaluated differently from the way it was assessed thirty years ago. Faure is no longer merely a 'Master of Charms' circumscribed by the belle epoque. His status as a great composer of timeless
The Correspondence of Camille Saint-Saens and Gabriel Faure
This English edition of Jean-Michel Nectoux's collection of the complete correspondence of Saint-SaA"ns and Faure features some 130 letters spanning the period from 1862 to 1920. Immensely significant to the study of French music, these letters throw light upon one of the longest-surviving friendships between two composers in the history of music. They also contain frank exchanges of views on such topics as the music of Wagner, Berlioz, Debussy, Franck and others; the state of musical education in France; and other important artistic figures of fin de siecle Paris including Puvis de Chavannes, Rodin and Fremiet. Barrie Jones's skilful translation of this important body of correspondence captures the often playful, casual, but always stimulating language of both composers. These letters are frequently the sole source for dating certain compositions or discovering projects that were started but then abandoned. They constitute a primary source for appreciation of Saint-SaA"ns's and Faure's compositions, opinions and working practices.