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Caplet, André

Caplet, André

Caplet, André, French composer and conductor; b. Le Havre, Nov. 23, 1878; d. Paris, April 22, 1925. He studied violin in Le Havre, and played in theater orchs. there and in Paris. He entered the Paris Cons. (1896), where he studied with Leroux and Lenepveu. In 1901 he received the Grand Prix de Rome for his cantata Myrrha. His Marche solennelle for the centennial of the Villa Medicis was performed in Rome (April 18, 1903). He was active in France as a choral and operatic conductor; conducted the first performance of Debussy’s Le Martyre de St. Sébastien (Paris, May 22, 1911); also conducted the Boston Opera Co. (1910–14) and in London at Covent Garden (1912). Caplet was wounded in action while serving in the French Army during World War I, which seriously impaired his life and greatly curtailed his subsequent musical activities. His music is unequivocally impressionistic, with a lavish use of whole-tone scales and parallel chord formations; he combined this impressionism with neo-archaic usages and mystic programmatic ideas. He was a close friend of Debussy, with whom he collaborated on several of his orch. works and even completed sections left unfinished by Debussy. Their correspondence was publ, in Monaco in 1957.


Rêverie for Flute and Piano (1897); Myrrha, cantata (1901); Double Wind Quintet (Paris, March 9, 1901); Marche solennelle (Rome, April 18, 1903); Elégie for Cello and Piano (1903); The Masque of the Red Death for Harp and Orch. (Paris, March 7, 1909; arranged as Conte fantastique for Harp and String Quartet, 1919; Paris, Dec. 29, 1923); Septet for 3 Women’s Voices and String Quartet (1909); Inscriptions champêtres for Chorus (1914); Douamont for Military Band (1917); Mass for 3 Voices (1920); Hymne à la naissance du matin for Chorus and Orch. (1920); Epiphanie for Cello and Orch. (Paris, Dec. 29, 1923); Le miroir de Jésus for Mezzo- soprano, Women’s Chorus, Harp, and Strings (1923; Paris, May 1, 1924); A la française and A l’espagnole, divertissements for Harp (1924); various choral works, songs, and piano pieces.


A. G (Paris, 1976).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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