Charles Koechlin

Biography

Born: November 27, 1867; Paris, France   Died: December 31, 1950; Le Canadel, Var, France  
Though his reputation as a composer has remained rather isolated in the decades since his death, Charles Koechlin enjoyed a prominent place in the French music scene in the first half of the twentieth century. Born in Paris on November 27, 1867, Koechlin began formal musical studies at the Paris Conservatory in 1890. His teachers there included Massenet and Fauré; the latter ultimately proved the greatest influence upon Koechlin's uncomplicated Read more but colorful, mildly Impressionistic style. In 1918, Satie welcomed him into Les nouveaux jeunes, a short-lived collective of young French composers (including Roussel and Milhaud) that ultimately metamorphosed into Les Six.

In his lifetime, Koechlin was more widely known for his work as a theorist and teacher than for his own music. His writings include a multi-volume treatise on orchestration, one of the most extensive of its kind. Among his students were two members of Les Six, Germaine Tailleferre and Francis Poulenc, as well as film and television composer Lalo Schifrin. Koechlin's skill and reputation as an orchestrator were considerable. Saint-Saëns, Fauré, and Debussy entrusted to him the orchestration of a number of their own works, including most of Debussy's first ballet, Khamma (1911-1912). Koechlin traveled widely as a lecturer on music, including three tours in the United States. After a career that encompassed every aspect of French musical life, he died in Le Canadel, France, on New Year's Eve 1950.

While Koechlin's music is not as distinctive in its dramatic, structural, or formal profile as that of contemporaries like Debussy or Ravel, it nonetheless bears the stamp of an unusual personality. Many of his works are conspicuously sectional and almost improvisatory in the manner in which they unfold; his melodies in particular tend toward unrestricted, continual motion. Harmony and instrumental color are generally at the fore in Koechlin's music, which is perhaps most effective in the way it creates exquisitely shaded atmospheres. The composer wrote prolifically and for nearly every medium -- except, tellingly, for the operatic stage -- but carved out a quirky compositional niche that remains unique. Prefiguring multi-work "literary" cycles like American composer David Del Tredici's Alice in Wonderland series, Koechlin produced seven interrelated works based on Kipling's The Jungle Book. Perhaps unexpectedly, given his sober, messianic appearance, he also harbored a virtual mania for the cinema, which he translated into a number of works inspired by various silver-screen personalities. He celebrated the icons of Hollywood's Golden Age in works like Five Dances for Ginger [Rogers] (1937) and Epitaphe de Jean Harlow (1937), but his most stimulating muse was apparently English-German actress Lilian Harvey (1906-1968). Initially flattered by Koechlin's hommages, which included more than a hundred works, including two "Lilian Albums," Harvey eventually grew uneasy with his seeming obsession. She also enjoys a place of honor in what is likely the most famous (if not generally familiar) of Koechlin's works, the Seven Stars Symphony (1933). Neither astrological nor astronomical in inspiration, the symphony is instead a suite of tone poems, each an evocative portrait of a leading screen figure of the day: Douglas Fairbanks, Harvey, Greta Garbo, Clara Bow, Marlene Dietrich, Emil Jannings, and Charlie Chaplin. Read less
Browse 1-25 of 94 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Un siecle de musique francaise (A Century of French Music)
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88875192862 Release Date: 05/13/2016   Number of Discs: 25
    Composer:  Pierre Boulez,  Claude Debussy,  Erik Satie,  Olivier Messiaen  ... 
    Performer:  Yvonne Minton,  Gervase de Peyer,  Michel Dalberto,  Daniel Varsano  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez,  Charles Munch,  Seiji Ozawa,  Richard Marlow  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Musique Vivante,  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra  ... 
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  • 2.
    Recital / Lajos Lencses
    Label: Bayer Records   Catalog: 100379 Release Date: 01/29/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Georg Philipp Telemann,  François Devienne,  Robert Schumann,  Charles Koechlin  ... 
    Performer:  Lajos Lencsés,  Balázs Kálvin,  Márta Ábrahám
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  • 3.
    Croquembouches
    Label: Skarbo   Catalog: 4158 Release Date: 09/11/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gabriel Fauré,  Paule Maurice,  Claude Delvincourt,  Darius Milhaud  ... 
    Performer:  Joel Versavaud,  Laura Caravello
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  • 4.
    Charles Koechlin: Chours et Melodies
    Label: Timpani   Catalog: 1234 Release Date: 07/10/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Koechlin
    Conductor:  Régine Théodoresco
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Calliope Women's Chorus
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  • 5.
    Koechlin: Ballade; Preludes; L'Ancienne maison de campagne
    Label: Skarbo   Catalog: 1136 Release Date: 07/10/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Koechlin
    Performer:  Jean-Pierre Ferey
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  • 6.
    L'heure Exquise - A French Songbook / Alice Coote
    Label: Hyperion   Catalog: 67962 Release Date: 05/12/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Francis Poulenc,  Reynaldo Hahn,  Gabriel Fauré,  Charles Gounod  ... 
    Performer:  Graham Johnson,  Alice Coote
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  • 7.
    Nos Cheres Escales: Music For Oboe & Organ
    Label: Bnl Productions   Catalog: 112975 Release Date: 05/12/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Joseph Noyon,  Théodore Dubois,  Charles Koechlin,  Jacques Ibert  ... 
    Performer:  Antoine Sebillotte,  Jean-Paul Imbert
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  • 8.
    Green -  Melodies Francaise Sur Des Poemes De Verlaine / Jaroussky
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 2564616693 Release Date: 02/24/2015   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Léo Ferré,  Gabriel Fauré,  Déodat de Sévérac,  Josef Zygmunt Szulc  ... 
    Performer:  Philippe Jaroussky,  Jerome Ducros
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Quatuor Ebčne
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  • 9.
    Chansons Perpetuelles / Marie-Nicole Lemieux
    Label: Naive   Catalog: 5355 Release Date: 01/13/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hugo Wolf,  Gabriel Fauré,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Guillaume Lekeu  ... 
    Performer:  Marie-Nicole Lemieux,  Roger Vignoles
    CD: $17.99
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  • 10.
    Dedications / Francesca Arnone, Terry Lyn Hudson
    Label: Msr   Catalog: 1431 Release Date: 11/11/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Pierre Camus,  Charles Koechlin,  Rhené-Baton,  Albert Roussel  ... 
    Performer:  Francesca Arnone,  Terry Lynn Hudson
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  • 11.
    French Character Pieces / Cindy Lin
    Label: Centaur Records   Catalog: 3389 Release Date: 10/14/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Déodat de Sévérac,  Emmanuel Chabrier,  Olivier Messiaen  ... 
    Performer:  Cindy Lin
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  • 12.
    1914 - Louis Vierne, Charles Koechlin
    Label: Gramola   Catalog: 99040 Release Date: 09/09/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Louis Vierne,  Charles Koechlin
    Performer:  Matthias Adensamer,  Tamara Atschba,  Louise Chisson,  Alexander Znamensky  ... 
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  • 13.
    Koechlin, Emmanuel: Music for Flute, Clarinet & Piano / Bronnimann, Vivier, Kleiser
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 9422 Release Date: 01/28/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Emmanuel,  Charles Koechlin
    Performer:  Markus Brönnimann,  Jean-Philippe Vivier,  Michael Kleiser
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  • 14.
    Games Of Light
    Label: Msr   Catalog: 1457 Release Date: 01/14/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Koechlin,  William Alwyn,  Miklós Rózsa,  Arthur Willner
    Performer:  Francesca Arnone
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  • 15.
    Works for Horn, Piano & Violin / Trio Quelque Chose
    Label: Kickshaw   Catalog: 1001 Release Date: 11/04/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Nisle,  Johannes Brahms,  Charles Koechlin,  Harry Bulow  ... 
    Performer:  Rico Mcneela,  Robert Garcia,  Greg Kostraba
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Trio Quelque Chose
    CD: $18.99
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  • 16.
    Gunter Wand - The Radio Recordings
    Label: Profil   Catalog: 13038 Release Date: 10/29/2013   Number of Discs: 20
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Olivier Messiaen,  Anton Webern,  Wolfgang Fortner  ... 
    Performer:  Erno Sebestyen,  Margaret Marshall,  Monique [Ondes Martenot] Matagne-Cavailles,  Tiny Wirtz  ... 
    Conductor:  Günter Wand
    CD: $98.99
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  • 17.
    French Oboe Sonatas
    Label: Camerata Records   Catalog: 28258 Release Date: 09/10/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Francis Poulenc,  Charles Koechlin,  Olivier Messiaen
    Performer:  Thomas Indermuhle,  Eriko Takezawa
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  • 18.
    Duo - Koechlin, Cartan, Bozza, Rivier, Schmitt / Boisvert, Laflamme
    Label: Atma Classique   Catalog: 2679 Release Date: 06/25/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Koechlin,  Florent Schmitt,  Jean Rivier,  Jean Cartan  ... 
    Performer:  Jean-Guy Boisvert,  Christiane Laflamme,  Jean-Willy Kunz
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  • 19.
    Koechlin: Melodies / Command, Durrant
    Label: Maguelone   Catalog: 111113 Release Date: 06/25/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Koechlin
    Performer:  Michčle Command,  Christophe Durrant
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  • 20.
    The Seasons / Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet
    Label: Bis   Catalog: 2072 Release Date: 05/28/2013   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Jacques Ibert,  Henri Tomasi,  Darius Milhaud,  Charles Koechlin  ... 
    Performer:  Andreas Wittman,  Walter Seyfarth,  Fergus McWilliam,  Henning Trog  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Woodwind Quintet
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    CD: $44.49
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  • 21.
    Satie & Compagnie / Anne Queffelec
    Label: Mirare   Catalog: 189 Release Date: 03/12/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Erik Satie,  Déodat de Sévérac,  Francis Poulenc,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Anne Queffélec
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    CD: $22.99
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  • 22.
    De Breville, Koechlin, Tournemire: Sonatas & Suite / Steven Dann, James Parker
    Label: Atma Classique   Catalog: 2519 Release Date: 02/26/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Pierre de Bréville,  Charles Koechlin,  Charles Tournemire
    Performer:  Steven Dann,  James Parker
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  • 23.
    Koechlin: Complete Music for Saxophone / Brutti
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 9266 Release Date: 01/29/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Charles Koechlin
    Performer:  David Brutti,  Filippo Farinelli,  Mario Caroli
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchdestra Cittŕ Aperta
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  • 24.
    Koechlin: Works For Ensembles / Ensemble Initium, Ensemble Contraste
    Label: Timpani   Catalog: 1193 Release Date: 08/28/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Koechlin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Initium,  Ensemble Contraste
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  • 25.
    Le Temps Retrouve: Debussy, Faure, Gaubert, Enescu, Koechlin / Veronika Iltchenko, Toon Fret
    Label: Ems   Catalog: 5637998172 Release Date: 08/28/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Gabriel Fauré,  Philippe Gaubert,  George Enescu  ... 
    Performer:  Toon Fret,  Veronika Iltchenko
    CD: $24.99
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