Gabriel Fauré

Biography

Born: 1845   Died: 1924   Country: France   Period: Romantic
When Gabriel Fauré was a boy, Berlioz had just written La damnation de Faust and Henry David Thoreau was writing Walden. By the time of his death, Stravinsky had written The Rite of Spring and World War I had ended in the devastation of Europe. In this dramatic period in history, Fauré strove to bring together the best of traditional and progressive music and, in the process, created some of the most exquisite works in the French repertoire. He Read more was one of the most advanced figures in French musical circles and influenced a generation of composers world-wide.

Fauré was the youngest child of a school headmaster and spent many hours playing the harmonium in the chapel next to his father's school. Fauré's father enrolled the 9-year-old as a boarder at the École Niedermeyer in Paris, where he remained for 11 years, learning church music, organ, piano, harmony, counterpoint, and literature. In 1861, Saint-Saëns joined the school and introduced Fauré and other students to the works of more contemporary composers such as Schumann, Liszt, and Wagner. Fauré's earliest songs and piano pieces date from this period, just before his graduation in 1865, which he achieved with awards in almost every subject. For the next several years, he took on various organist positions, served for a time in the Imperial Guard, and taught. In 1871 he and his friends -- d'Indy, Lalo, Duparc, and Chabrier -- formed the Société Nationale de Musique, and soon after, Saint-Saëns introduced him to the salon of Pauline Viardot and Parisian musical high society. Fauré wrote his first important chamber works (the Violin Sonata No. 1 and Piano Quartet No. 1), then set out on a series of musical expeditions to meet Liszt and Wagner. Throughout the 1880s, he held various positions and continued to write songs and piano pieces, but felt unsure enough of his compositional talents to attempt anything much larger than incidental music. Fauré's pieces began to show a complexity of musical line and harmony which were to become the hallmarks of his music. He began to develop a highly original approach to tonality, in which modal harmony and altered scales figured largely. The next decade, however, is when Fauré came into his own. He was named composition professor at the Paris Conservatoire in 1896. His music, although considered too advanced by most, gained recognition amongst his musical friends. This was his first truly productive phase, seeing the completion of his Requiem, the Cinq Mélodies, and the Dolly Suite, among other works. Using an economy of expression and boldness of harmony, he built the musical bridge over which his students -- such as Maurice Ravel and Nadia Boulanger -- would cross on their journey into the twentieth century. In 1905, he was named director of the conservatory and made several significant reforms. Ironically, this position gave his works more exposure, but it reduced his time for composition and came when he was increasingly bothered by hearing problems. Fauré's works of this period show the last, most sophisticated stages of his writing, streamlined and elegant in form. During World War I, Fauré essentially remained in Paris and had another extremely productive phase, producing, among other things, Le Jardin clos and the Fantaisie for piano and orchestra, Op. 111, which show a force and violence that make them among the most powerful pieces in French music. In 1920 he retired from the school, and the following year gave up his music critic position with Le Figaro, which he had held since 1903. Between then and his death in 1924, he would produce his great, last works: several chamber works and the song cycle L'horizon chimérique. Read less
Fauré: Mélodies / Marilyn Schmiege, Donald Sulzen
Release Date: 11/16/1995   Label: Orfeo  
Catalog: 347941   Number of Discs: 1
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Prokofiev, Franck: Cello Sonatas;  Fauré / Hans Pålsson, Etc
Release Date: 02/01/1994   Label: Bis  
Catalog: 35   Number of Discs: 1
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Haydn, Rameau, Fauré, Et Al / Leopold Simoneau, Erik Werba
Release Date: 09/16/2000   Label: Orfeo D'or  
Catalog: 460971   Number of Discs: 1
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Fauré: Mélodies / Elly Ameling, Gerard Souzay
Release Date: 01/24/2006   Label: Brilliant Classics  
Catalog: 92792   Number of Discs: 4
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Fauré, Duruflé: Requiem / Malmberg, Persson, Et Al
Release Date: 03/28/2006   Label: Bis  
Catalog: 1206   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Pavane, Op. 50

 

About This Work
The years 1886 and 1887 were among the most productive of Fauré's career. In addition to the Piano Quartet No. 2, Fauré produced two of his best-known works during these years, the Requiem and the Pavane. The first version of the Read more Pavane, for orchestra alone, was written for the Vicomtesse Elisabeth Greffuhle, one of Fauré's many patronesses. Fauré later made a version of the work that included a choral setting of a text by Comte Robert de Montesquiou, a cousin of the Vicomtesse. The text, written in imitation of Verlaine, evokes images of eighteenth century courtship with its old-fashioned references and pastoral names. In addition to these two versions, Fauré made a transcription for flute and woodwinds, and another for solo piano; the latter version was one of the few works of which Fauré himself made a recording.

Like the Requiem, the Pavane employs a muted palette, a language more of elegance than of emphasis. The pavane's origins as a stately Renaissance dance are evident in Fauré's reconception: A steady pizzicato undercurrent provides a grounding for the swaying, languid rhythm of the melodic line and Fauré's characteristic seductive harmonies. In the choral version, the musical discourse is set up as a dialogue between the male and female voices; both groups occasionally unite in passages about the power of love.

-- Anne Feeney, All Music Guide Read less

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Ensembles

Gabriel Fauré


WORKS
Fauré: Requiem, Op.48 - 1. Introitus: Requiem aeternam - Kyrie
Fauré: Requiem, Op.48 - 2. Offertorium: Domine Jesu Christe
Fauré: Requiem, Op.48 - 3. Sanctus
Fauré: Requiem, Op.48 - 4. Pie Jesu
Fauré: Requiem, Op.48 - 5. Agnus Dei
Fauré: Requiem, Op.48 - 6. Libera me
Fauré: Requiem, Op.48 - 7. In paradisum
I. Ouverture: Allegro molto vivo
II. Menuet: Tempo di minuetto - Allegretto moderato
III. Gavotte: Allegro vivo
IV. Pastorale: Andantino tranquillo
I. Allegro molto
II. Andante
III. Allegro vivo
IV. Allegro quasi presto


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