Gabriel Fauré

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About Gabriel Fauré

Sincerity, clarity, and perfection of expression were the self-proclaimed watchwords of Gabriel Fauré, whose life spanned the music of Berlioz, Schumann, and Chopin at one end, and the radicalism of Arnold Schoenberg at the other. His creative life, moreover, was bounded by the Franco-Prussian War (and its fallout) and the dislocation of WWI. Born in Parmiers in 1845, Fauré gained his early training as a church musician, but although he was for many years associated with Saint-Sulpice and the Madeleine in Paris, it’s not as an organist/composer that he’s remembered—even if his most popular work is the Requiem, begun in 1887 and subsequently tweaked for over a decade. His piano music includes nocturnes and barcarolles (thirteen apiece) that chart an evolution from early salon charm to the complexity and harmonic density of the late works, a stylistic intensification perhaps in part attributable to Fauré’s increasing deafness. The opera Pénélope (1913) had a mixed reception, but his songs, much cherished by Ravel, are a cornerstone of the French mélodie tradition. A rich harvest of chamber music ranging from duo sonatas to smoldering piano quartets and quintets discloses an immediately recognizable voice that is urbane, sophisticated, and supple. A darkly introspective and troubled swansong, the String Quartet (Fauré’s only foray into the genre), was completed just before his death in 1924.

Pamiers, Ariège, France
May 12, 1845
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