d’Indy, (Paul-Marie-Théodore-) Vincent

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d’Indy, (Paul-Marie-Théodore-) Vincent

d’Indy, (Paul-Marie-Théodore-) Vincent, eminent French composer and pedagogue; b. Paris, March 27, 1851; d. there, Dec. 2, 1931. Owing to the death of his mother at his birth, his education was directed entirely by his grandmother, Countess Rézia d’Indy, a woman of culture and refinement who had known Grétry and Monsigny, and who had shown a remarkable appreciation of the works of Beethoven when that master was still living. From 1862 to 1865 he studied piano with Diémer and Marmontel; in 1865 he studied harmony with Lavignac. In 1869 he made the acquaintance of Duparc, and with him spent much time studying the masterpieces of Bach, Beethoven, Berlioz, and Wagner; at that time, he wrote his opp. 1 and 2, and contemplated an opera on Hugo’s Les Burgraves (1869-72; unfinished). During the Franco-Prussian War, he served in the Garde Mobile, and wrote of his experiences in Histoire du 105e bataillon de la Garde nationale de Paris en I’année 1870-71 (1872). He then began to study composition with Franck(1872); when the latter was appointed prof, of organ at the Paris Cons. (1873), d’Indy joined the class, winning a second accessit in 1874 and the first the following year. On his first visit to Germany in 1873, he met Liszt and Wagner, and was introduced to Brahms; in 1876 he heard the first performances of the Ring dramas at Bayreuth, and for several years thereafter made regular trips to Munich to hear all the works of Wagner; he also attended the premiere of Parsifal in 1882. From 1872 to 1876 he was organist at St. Leu-la-Foret; from 1873 to 1878, chorusmaster and timpanist with the Colonne Orch.; for the Paris premiere of Lohengrin in 1887, he drilled the chorus and was Lamoureux’s assistant. In 1871 he joined the Société Nationale de Musique as a junior member, and was its secretary from 1876 to 1890, when, after Franck’s death, he became president. In 1894 he founded, with Bordes and Guilmant, the famous Schola Cantorum (opened 1896), primarily as a school for plainchant and the Palestrina style. Gradually the scope of instruction was enlarged to include all musical disciplines, and the inst. became one of the world’s foremost music schools. D’Indy’s fame as a composer began with the performance of his Le Chant de la cloche at a Lamoureux concert in 1886; the work itself had won the City of Paris Prize in the competition of the preceding year. As early as 1874, Pasdeloup had played the overture Les Piccolomini (later embodied as the second part in the Wallenstein trilogy), and in 1882 the one-act opera Attendez-moi sous l’orme had been produced at the Paris Opéra-Comique; but the prize work attracted general attention, and d’Indy was recognized as one of the most important French composers of his day. Although he never held an official position as a conductor, he frequently, and with marked success, appeared in that capacity (chiefly upon invitation to direct his own works); thus, he visited Spain in 1897, Russia in 1903 and 1907, and the U.S. in1905, when he conducted the Boston Sym. Orch. In 1892 he was a member of the commission appointed to revise the curriculum of the Cons., and refused a proffered professorship of composition; but in 1912 he accepted an appointment as prof. of the ensemble class. Besides his other duties, he was, from 1899, inspector of musical instruction in Paris. He was made a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor in 1892, an Officer in 1912. Both as teacher and creative artist, d’Indy continued the traditions of Franck. Although he cultivated almost every form of composition, his special talent was in the field of the larger instrumental forms. Some French critics assign to him a position in French music analogous to that of Brahms in German music. His style rests on Bach and Beethoven; however, his deep study of Gregorian chant and the early contrapuntal style added an element of severity, and not rarely of complexity, that renders his approach somewhat difficult, and has prompted the charge that his music is lacking in emotional force. He wrote numerous articles for various journals, which are remarkable for their critical acumen and literary finish.


Cours de Composition musicale (Book I, 1903; Book II: Part 1, 1909, Part 2, 1933); César Franck (1906; Eng. tr., 1910); Beethoven: Biographie critique (1911; Eng. tr., 1913); La Schola Cantorum en 1925 (1927); Wagner et son influence sur l’art musical français (1930); Introduction à l’étude de Parsifal (1937).


dramatic:Les Burgraves, opera (1869-72; unfinished); Attendez-moi sous l’orme, comic opera (Paris, Feb. 11, 1882); Karadec, incidental music (Paris, May 2, 1891); Le Chant de la cloche, dramatic legend (Brussels, Nov. 21, 1912); Fervaal, lyric drama (Brussels, March 12, 1897); Medée, incidental music (1898); L’Étranger, lyric drama (Brussels, Jan. 7, 1903); La Légende de Saint-Christophe, lyric drama (Paris, June 9, 1920); Le Rêve de Cynias, lyric comedy (Paris, June 10, 1927). ORCH.: 3 syms.: No. 1, Jean Hunyade (Paris, May 15, 1875), No. 2 (Paris, Feb. 28, 1904), and No. 3, Sinfonia brevis de bello Gallico (1916-18; Paris, Dec. 14, 1919); 2 other syms.: Symphonie Cévenole sur un chant montagnard français (1886; Paris, March 20, 1887) and La Queste de Dieu, after La Légende de Saint- Christophe (1917); Antoine et Cléopâtre, overture (Paris, Feb. 4, 1877); La Fôret enchantée, symphonie legend (Paris, March 24, 1878); Wallenstein, symphonie trilogy: Le Camp de Wallenstein (April 12, 1880), Max et Thécla (Jan. 25, 1874; orig. Les Piccolomini), and La Mort de Wallenstein (April 11, 1884); Lied for Cello and Orch. (Paris, April 18, 1885); Saugefleurie, legend (Paris, Jan. 25, 1885); Suite for Trumpet, 2 Flutes, and Strings (Paris, March 5, 1887); Sérénade et Valse for Small Orch. (1887); Fantaisie for Oboe and Orch. (Paris, Dec. 23, 1888); Tableaux de voyage (Le Havre, Jan. 17, 1892); Istar, symphonic variations (Brussels, Jan. 10, 1897); Choral varié for Saxophone and Orch. (Paris, May 17, 1904); Jour d’été à la montagne (Paris, Feb. 18, 1906); Souvenirs, tone poem (Paris, April 20, 1907); Le Poème des rivages (N.Y., Dec. 1, 1921); Diptyque mediterraneen (Paris, Dec. 5, 1926); Concerto for Piano, Flute, Cello, and Strings (Paris, April 2, 1927). CHAMBER: Piano Quartet (1878); Trio for Piano, Clarinet, and Cello (1888); 3 string quartets (1891, 1898, 1929); Chansons et Danses, divertissement for 7 Wind Instruments (Paris, March 7, 1899); Violin Sonata (1905); Piano Quintet (1925); Cello Sonata (1926); Suite en 4 parties for Flute, Strings, and Harp (Paris, May 17, 1930); String Sextet (1928); Trio for Piano, Violin, and Cello (1929). keyboard: piano:3 romances sans paroles (1870); Petite sonate (1880); Poème des montagnes: Le Chant des bruyères, Danses rythmiques, and Plein-air (1881); 4 pièces (1882);Helvetia, 3 waltzes (1882); Saugefleurie (1884; also arranged for Orch.); Nocturne (1886); Promenade (1887); Schumanniana, 3 pieces (1887); Tableaux de voyage, 13 pieces (1889); Petite chanson grégorienne for Piano, 4-Hands (1904); Sonata (1907); Menuet sur le nom de Haydn (1909); 13 Short Pieces; 12 petites pièces faciles; 7 chants de terroir for Piano, 4-Hands; Pour les enfants de tous les âges, 24 pieces; Thème varié, fugue et chanson; Conte de fées, suite (1926); 6 paraphrases on French children’s songs; Fantaisie sur un vieil air de ronde française (1931).organ:Prélude et Petit Canon (1893); Vêpres du Commun d’un Martyr (1889); Prélude (1913). VOCAL: Chanson des aventuriers de la mer for Baritone and Men’s Chorus (1870); La Chevauchée du Cid for Baritone, Chorus, and Orch. (1879); Cantate Domino (1885); Ste. Marie-Magdeleine, cantata (1885); Sur la mer for Women’s Voices and Piano (1888); Pour l’inauguration d’une statue, cantata (1893); L’Art et le peuple for Men’s Chorus (1894); Deus Israël, motet (1896); Ode à Valence for Soprano and Chorus (1897); Les Noces d’or du sacerdoce (1898); Sancta Maria, motet (1898); 6 Chants populaires français for Chorus (1928, 1931); Le Bouquet de printemps Women’s Chorus (1929); La Vengeance du mari for 3 Soloists, Chorus, and Orch. (1931); songs.


E. Deniau, V d’I. (Toulouse, 1903); F. Starczewski, La Schola Cantorum de Paris, ou V d’I. considéré comme professeur (Warsaw, 1905); L. Borgex, V d’I.: Sa vie et son oeuvre (Paris, 1913); A. Sérieyx, V d’I. (Paris, 1913); M. de Fraguier, V. d’I. (Paris, 1933); L. Vallas, V d’L: I. La Jeunesse, IL La Maturité, La Vieillesse (Paris, I, 1946; II, 1950); J. Canteloube, V. d’I. (Paris, 1949); N. Demuth, V d’I (London, 1951); J. Guy-Ropartz, ed., Le Centenaire de V. d’I, 1851-1951 (Paris, 1952); L. Davies, César Franck and His Circle (Boston, 1970).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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d’Indy, (Paul-Marie-Théodore-) Vincent

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