Fauré, Gabriel (Urbain)
Fauré, Gabriel Urbain
FAURÉ, GABRIEL URBAIN
Precursor of 20th-century music; b. Pamiers (Ariège), France, May 12, 1845; d. Paris, Nov. 4, 1924. Fauré, sixth child of a nonmusical family, was educated at École Niedermeyer, Paris, an institute dedicated to the betterment of church music. He was both maître de chapelle and organist at the Madeleine, as well as professor of composition at the Paris Conservatory, and from 1905, its director. Among his students were Nadia Boulanger, Ravel, and Florent Schmitt. His dramatic compositions are unremarkable, and his work for organ and orchestra is negligible; but his songs, piano works, and chamber music innovated a daring individuality of style whose elements, such as the modality, inventive extensions of harmonic relations, independence in use of dissonance, and preoccupation with rhythm and texture, grew more austere and inventive with his creative maturity. The Requiem (1887–88), the climax of some uninspired sacred writings comprising a Messe Basse and a few short works, embodied his religious faith and hope for eternal rest. Thus he omitted the Sequence (Dies Irae ) except for the last line, "Pie Jesu Domine, dona eis requiem," which replaced the Benedictus. The work, supported by organ, incorporates his somewhat romanticist early style. It reflects little of the Gregorian tradition, though there is some modal coloring and occasional polyphony. This Mass is a gentle prayer that foretells in its simplicity Fauré's later style and the emotional restraint of the next generation.
Bibliography: Lettres intimes, ed. p. faurÉ-frÉmiet (Paris 1951). p. faurÉ-frÉmiet, Gabriel Fauré (new ed. Paris 1957); Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, ed. f. blume (Kassel-Basel 1949–) 3:1867–80. c. l. e. koechlin, Gabriel Fauré, 1845–1924, tr. l. orry (London 1945). n. suckling, Fauré (London 1951). m. cooper, French Music (London 1951). c. caballero, "Fauré and French Musical Aesthetics" (Ph.D. diss. University of Pennsylvania 1996). r. h. crouch, "The Nocturnes and Barcarolles for Solo Piano of Gabriel Fauré" (Ph.D. diss. Catholic University 1980). k. johansen, "Gabriel Fauré, un art de l'équivoque," Revue de Musicologie, 85 (1999) 63–96. a. labussiÈre, "Gabriel Fauré: 2nd Sonate pour violoncelle et piano op. 117," Analyse Musicale, 25 (1991) 19–35. m. macdonald, "Pénélope, " in International Dictionary of Opera, ed. c. s. larue, 2 v. (Detroit 1993) 1002–1003. j.-m. nectoux, "Gabriel (Urbain) Fauré," in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. s. sadie, v. 6 (New York 1980) 417–428. e. r. phillips, "Smoke, Mirrors, and Prisms: Tonal Contradiction in Fauré," Music Analysis, 12 (1993) 3–24. a. piovano, "Aspetti della produzione vocale di Gabriel Fauré: il Requiem e le Mélodies," Rassegna Musicale Curci, 50 (1997) 44–50. d. m. randel, ed., The Harvard Biographical Dictionary of Music (Cambridge, Mass. 1996) 261–262.
Gabriel Urbain Fauré
Gabriel Urbain Fauré
The French composer Gabriel Urbain Fauré (1845-1924) is best known for his songs and his typically French exquisiteness of taste.
Gabriel Fauré was born on May 12, 1845, in the provincial town of Pamiers, where his father was superintendent of schools. When Gabriel was 9, he was sent to Paris to attend the École Niedermeyer, a school for the education of church musicians, where he had won a scholarship. Fauré received a thorough grounding in organ playing and theory and became acquainted with Gregorian chant, whose modal melodies influenced his later compositions. Camille Saint-Saëns, a teacher at the school, exerted a strong influence on the young provincial.
When Fauré graduated in 1865, he accepted a position as organist in Rennes, but within a year he returned to Paris. He served as assistant organist at St-Sulpice and later at the Madeleine, Paris's most fashionable church, eventually becoming principal organist. He was professor of composition at the Paris Conservatory from 1896 until 1905 and director until 1920, when his growing deafness forced him to resign.
Fauré was not a prolific composer, and with few exceptions he avoided the larger dramatic forms of opera and symphony. His compositions fall into three periods stylistically. Most of his songs were written during the first period, which ended in 1886. Their beautiful melodies and flowing accompaniments make the songs small masterpieces of the genre. Many of the piano pieces belong to this period. These nocturnes, barcarolles, and impromptus do not show off the performer's technique, but their subtle melodies, arpeggio accompaniments, and surprising harmonic progressions give them a special charm. Other early works are the Sonata No. 1 for violin and piano (1876) and the two Piano Quartets (1879 and 1886), which have an immediate charm and soaring lyricism.
Important works of Fauré's second period, which lasted until 1908, are the song cycle La Bonne chanson (1892), settings of Paul Verlaine's poems, and the Requiem (1887). In contrast with the dramatic Requiems of most of his predecessors and contemporaries, Fauré's is calm and resigned, a profound and moving meditation.
Works of the third period include two song cycles, La Chanson d'Eve (1910) and Le Jardin clos (1917); an austere opera, Penelope (1913); Sonata No. 2 for violin and piano (1917); Piano Quintet No. 2 (1921); and a Piano Trio (1924). These compositions, the works of a man in his 70s, are remarkable for their original harmonic progressions, serenity, and clarity. Fauré died in Paris on Nov. 4, 1924.
Norman Suckling, Fauré (1946; rev. ed. 1951), is the best study of the composer's life and works. Martin Cooper, French Music from the Death of Berlioz to the Death of Fauré (1951), discusses distinguishing stylistic characteristics of major French composers of that period. See also Rey M. Longyear, Nineteenth-Century Romanticism in Music (1969).
Fauré, Gabriel, Gabriel Fauré: a life in letters, London: Batsford, 1989.
Gabriel Faurâe, 1845-1924, New York: AMS Press, 1976.
Orledge, Robert, Gabriel Fauré, London: Eulenburg Books, 1979.
Suckling, Norman, Fauré, Westport, Conn.: Hyperion Press, 1979.
Vuillermoz, Émile, Gabriel Fauré, New York: Da Capo Press, 1983. □