Bruneau, (Louis-Charles-Bonaventure-)Alfred, French opera composer; b. Paris, March 3, 1857; d. there, June 15, 1934. In 1873 he entered the Paris Cons., where he was a pupil of Franchomme. He won the first cello prize in 1876, and later studied harmony with Savard and composition with Massenet; in 1881 he won the Prix de Rome with his cantata Sainte- Geneviève. He was a music critic for Gil Bias (1892–95), then for Le Figaro and Le Matin. In 1903-04 he was first conductor at the Opéra-Comique. In 1900 he was made a member of the “Conseil Supérieur” at the Paris Cons., and in 1909 succeeded Reyer as inspector of music instruction. He made extensive tours of Russia, England, Spain, and the Netherlands, conducting his own works. He was made a Knight of the Légion d’honneur in 1895, received the title “Commandeur de St.-Charles” in 1907, and became a member of the Académie des Beaux Arts in 1925. His role in the evolution of French opera is of great importance; he introduced realistic drama on the French musical stage, working along lines parallel with Zola in literature. He used Zola’s subjects for his most spectacular opera, L’Ouragan, and also for the operas Messidor and L’Enfant-Roi. In accordance with this naturalistic trend, Bruneau made free use of harsh dissonance when it was justified by the dramatic action of the plot. He publ. Musiques d’hier et de demain (1900), La Musique française (1901), Musiques de Russie et musiciens de France (1903; German tr. by M. Graf in Die Musik, Berlin, 1904), La Vie et les oeuvres de Gabriel Fauré (1925), and Massenet (1934).
DRAMATIC: Opera (all first perf. in Paris unless otherwise given): Kérim (June 9, 1887); Le Rêve (June 18, 1891); L’Attaque du Moulin (Nov. 23, 1893); Messidor (Feb. 19, 1897); L’Ouragan (April 29, 1901); Lazare (1902); L’Enfant-Roi (March 3, 1905); Naïs Micoulin (Monte Carlo, Feb. 2, 1907); La Faute de l’Abbé Mouret (March 1, 1907); Les Quatre Journées (Dec. 25, 1916); Le Roi Candaule (Dec. 1, 1920); Angelo, tyran de Padoue (Jan. 16, 1928); Virginie (Jan. 7, 1931). ballet:L’Amoureuse Leçon (Feb. 6, 1913); Les Bacchantes (after Euripides; Oct. 30, 1912). other: 2 overtures: Ode héroïque and Lèda; 2 symphonic poems: La Belle au Bois dormant and Penthésilée, with Chorus; a Requiem; Lieds de France and Chansons à danser (both to poems by C. Mendès); Les Chants de la vie (to poems by H. Bataille, F. Gregh, etc.); Le Navire for Voice and Orch.; pieces for various combinations of string and wind Instruments.
A. Boschot, La Vie et les oeuvres d’A. B.(Paris, 1937).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire