Chausson, (Amédée-) Ernest

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Chausson, (Amédée-) Ernest

Chausson, (Amédée-) Ernest, distinguished French composer; b. Paris, Jan. 20, 1855; a bicycle accident in Limay, near Mantes, June 10, 1899. He studied with Massenet at the Paris Cons., then took private lessons with Franck, and began to compose. The influence of Wagner as well as that of Franck determined the harmonic and melodic elements in Chausson’s music. Despite these derivations, however, he succeeded in establishing an individual style, tense in its chromaticism and somewhat flamboyant in its melodic expansion. The French character of his music is unmistakable in the elegance and clarity of its structural plan. He was active in musical society in Paris and was secretary of the Société Nationale de Musique from 1889 until his death. He composed relatively little music; possessing private means, he was not compelled to seek employment as a professional musician.


DRAMATIC : Opera: Les Caprices de Marianne (1882–84); Hélène (1883–84); Le Roi Arthus (1886-95; Brussels, Nov. 30, 1903). incidental music: To Shakespeare’s The Tempest (Paris, Dec. 1888), Aristophanes’s The Birds (1889), and Boucher’s La Legende de Sainte Cecile (1891; Paris, Jan. 25, 1892). orch.: Viviane, symphonic poem (1882; rev. 1887); Solitude dans les bois, symphonic poem (1886; not extant); Sym. in B-flat major (1889-90; Paris, April 18, 1898); Poéme for Violin and Orch. (1896; Paris, April 4, 1897); Soir de fete, symphonic poem (1897–98). chamber: Piano Trio (1881); Andante and Allegro for Clarinet and Piano (1881); Concert for Piano, Violin, and String Quartet (1889–91); Piano Quartet (1897); Piéce for Cello or Viola and Piano (1897); String Quartet (1897-99; unfinished; completed by DTndy); piano pieces. vocal: Jeanne d’arc, scene lyrique for Solo Voices, Women’s Voices, and Piano (c. 1880); Hymne á la nature for 4 Voices and Orch. (1881); L’arabe, cantata for Tenor, Men’s Voices, and Orch. (1881); Hymne védique for 4 Voices and Orch. (1886); Poeme de I’amour et de la mer for Solo Voice and Orch. (1882-90; rev. 1893); Ballata for 4 Voices (1896–97); Chanson perpetuelle for Soprano and Orch. (1898); songs for Solo Voice and Piano; sacred works, including 8 motets (1883–88) and a Tantum ergo (1891).


H. Oulmont, Musique de l’amour: E. C. et la “bande à Franck” (Paris, 1935); J.-P. Barricelli and L. Weinstein, E. C. (Norman, Okla., 1955); J. Gallois, E. C: L’Homme et son oeuvre (Paris, 1967; rev. éd., 1994); R. Grover, £. G: The Man and His Music (London, 1980).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire