Gustave Charpentier

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Charpentier, Gustave

Charpentier, Gustave, famous French composer; b. Dieuze, Lorraine, June 25, 1860; d. Paris, Feb. 18, 1956. He studied at the Paris Cons. (1881–87), where he was a pupil of Massari (violin), Pessard (harmony), and Massenet (composition). He received the Grand Prix de Rome in 1887 with his cantata Didon. He evinced great interest in the social problems of the working classes, and in 1900 formed the society L’Oeuvre de Mimi Pinson, devoted to the welfare of the poor, which he reorganized during World War I as an auxiliary Red Cross society. His fame is owed to one amazingly successful opera, Louise, a “roman musical” to his own libretto (his mistress at the time was also named Louise, and like the heroine of his opera, was employed in a dressmaking shop), which was premiered at the Opéra-Comique in Paris on Feb. 2, 1900. The score is written in the spirit of naturalism and includes such realistic touches as the street cries of Paris vendors. Its success was immediate, and it entered the repertoire of opera houses all over the world. Encouraged, Charpentier wrote a sequel under the title Julien (Paris, June 4, 1913), but it failed to arouse comparable interest.

Bibliography

A. Homonet, Louise (Paris, 1922); M. Delmas, G. C. et le lyrisme français (Paris, 1931).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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Charpentier, Gustave (b Dieuze, 1860; d Paris, 1956). Fr. composer. Won Prix de Rome. While still a student, wrote Impressions d'Italie for orch. (1890, arr. as ballet 1913). Had great success with opera Louise (comp. 1889–96, prod. Paris 1900), based on his own experiences in Montmartre when he first went to Paris in 1881, but its successor Julien (1913) failed to become established. Wrote cantata La Vie du poète (1892). Founded in 1902 Conservatoire Populaire where working girls like Louise could learn mus. and dancing. After 1913 he completed nothing. Supervised film of Louise, 1936. Last years were spent as recluse in Montmartre.

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Charpentier, Gustave (1860–1956) French composer, taught by Massenet. His best-known compositions are the operas Louise (1900) and Julien (1913), and the orchestral Impressions d'Italie.