» French Composers


French Composers’ Names – Jean-Claude Risset

Another composer in our French Composers’ Names series: Jean-Claude Risset. Well, composer and researcher. Risset came to composition after considering being a concert pianist (he studied with Robert Trimaille, himself a student of Alfred Cortot) but he also studied Physics in parallel, and graduated from the most prestigious science institutes in France. NBD.

Jean-Claude Risset

Jean-Claude Risset

Learn how to pronounce Risset’s name in French!


French Composers’ Names – Germaine Tailleferre

French composer Germaine Tailleferre (1893-1983) is best-known today as the only female member of the French composer’s group Les Six, but, along with her colleagues Auric, Durey, Honegger, Milhaud, and Poulenc, she was a composer of considerable imagination whose works still resonate. After studying composition at the Paris Conservatoire, Tailleferre became part of the avant-garde art and music scene, spending time with Picasso, Satie, and Cocteau, as well as Ravel. She he is the next installment in our French Composers’ Names series.


[


French Composers’ Names – Maurice Ravel

What better day to post this than on his birthday? Joseph-Maurice Ravel (March 7, 1875 – December 28, 1937) was a French composer a too frequently associated with impressionist music (I think that it’s a bit more complicated than this…), and he is the next installment in our French Composers’ Names series.

Maurice Ravel

Maurice Ravel

[


French Composers’ Names: Cécile Chaminade

The pianist and composer Cécile Chaminade (1857-1944) was admired by the British Queen Victoria, for whom she often performed at The House of Windsor. Over 200 Chaminade Music Clubs sprang up in the States, where she made her live debut in 1908 with the Philadelphia Orchestra in her own Concertstück. In 1913 France made her a member of the Légion d’Honneur, yet after her death Chaminade was virtually forgotten. From October 8 – 12 the Dutch classical station Radio 4 honors Chaminade with five daily programs in the series Componist van de week (Composer of the week) from 7:30 – 8 pm Central European Summer Time. They will be streamed live at www.radio4.nl.

George Bizet, a household friend at the Chaminade residence in Vésinet, a stylish suburb of Paris, lovingly called her ‘My little Mozart’. He advised her parents to send young Cécile to the Paris Conservatoire to study piano and composition. Papa, director of an insurance company and amateur violinist, refused permission, however: ‘Bourgeois girls are predestined to become wives and mothers.’

Chaminade’s mother, an apt piano player and singer herself, supported her daughter’s ambitions, and sent her to private teachers recommended by Bizet. As early as 1877, when her father was away on a business trip, Cécile took her chance to give a public recital in the Salle Pleyel in Paris. The concert was well received, and soon after she quickly rose to fame with her tuneful songs, solo pieces for piano, and her first Piano Trio (1880).

Cécile Chaminade

Cécile Chaminade

[


French Composers’ Names – Erik Satie and his Vexations

Erik Satie

Erik Satie

I don’t really know why it took me so long to feature Erik Satie in this French Composers’ Series, but today is Make Music (June 21) and this year is also A Worldwide Day of Vexations:

“Inspired by Cage’s visionary spirit, “A Worldwide day of Vexations” unites a community of intrepid vibraphonists from around the globe in a complete, live streamed performance of Erik Satie’s epic work. Starting in Australia and ending on the West coast of the United States, segments of over 10 performances will be strung together on www.worldwidevexations.com to create one 18-hour performance in its entirety.”

From www.worldwidevexations.com

So here are two MP3s giving the pronunciation of Satie’s name and Vexations:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Link to MP3: ICIYL – Erik Satie | Get Erik Satie sheet music!

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Link to MP3: ICIYL – Vexations

Satie’s Vexations is an enigmatic short composition that was never published (and probably never performed) during Satie’s time. The score mentions 840 repetitions, although it might not be a performance note, just a curious comment or even a prank intended to ridicule lengthy Germanic classical pieces (think Wagner). The Wikiepdia entry is quite interesting.

There are many weird stories that one can learn about Erik Satie, but I strongly recommend reading his letters gathered by the director of the Erik Satie Foundation in Paris, Ornella Volta. Satie was a complex character—not the Dadaist caricature that is sometimes portrayed in the media—and he influenced generations of composers (including Maurice Ravel, John Cage, and Les Six). Besides the vary famous Gymnopédies and Gnossiennes, his output includes Mélodies, songs that sound like the Cabaret music he performed a lot during his youth in Montmartre. One of them is Allons-y Chochotte! (Let’s go sweetie!) which lyrics even feature a reference to the Rome Prize!

Allons-y, Chochotte – Erik Satie

If you are ever in Paris, make sure to walk by one of his apartments 6, rue Cortot or take a day trip to Honfleur, in Normandy, to visit the Maison Satie, a nice museum full of very interesting Satie paraphernalia…

6 rue Cortot - Photo byChristine592 (Flickr)

6 rue Cortot – Photo byChristine592 (Flickr)

Check out the entire French Composers’ Names series or suggest one we haven’t covered on Twitter at @icareifulisten.