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Fauré, Gabriel
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Biography
Gabriel (Urbain) Fauré

(Born; Pamiers, 12 May 1845; Died; Paris, 4 Nov 1924). French composer and teacher. He trained at the Ecole Niedermeyer (1854-65) as organist and choirmaster, coming under the influence of Saint-Saëns and his circle while working as a church musician (at Rennes, 1866-70; St Sulpice, 1871-3; the Madeleine, from 1874) and giving lessons. Though he met Liszt and was fascinated by Wagner, he sought a distinctive style in his piano pieces and numerous songs, which had to be composed during summer holidays. Recognition came slowly owing to the modernity of his music. In 1892 he became national inspector of the provincial conservatories, and in 1896 chief organist at the Madeleine and composition teacher at the Conservatoire, where his pupils included Ravel, Koechlin, Roger-Ducasse, Enescu and Nadia Boulanger; from 1905 to 1920 he was the Conservatoire's resolute and influential director, becoming celebrated for the vocal and chamber master-pieces he produced until his death.

Fauré's stylistic development can he traced from the sprightly or melancholy song settings of his youth to the bold, forceful late instrumental works, traits including a delicate combination of expanded tonality and modality, rapid modulations to remote keys and continuously unfolding melody. Widely regarded as the greatest master of French song, he produced six important cycles (notably the novel La bonne chanson op.61) and three collections each of 20 pieces (1879, 1897, 1908). In chamber music he enriched all the genres he attempted, while his works for piano (chiefly nocturnes, barcarolles and impromptus) embody the full scope of his stylistic evolution. Among his few large-scale works, the popular and delicately written Requiem op.48 and the 'song opera' Pénélope (1913) are noteworthy.

Dramatic music Prométhée, lyric tragedy (1900); Pénélope, lyric drama (1913); Masques et Bergamasques, lyrical comedy (1919); incidental music to 6 plays, incl. Pelléas et Mélisande (1898)

Vocal music Messe basse (1881); Requiem (1877); Circa; 15 other sacred pieces, incl. Cantique de Jean Racine (1865); secular choruses, duets; 6 song cycles, including La bonne chanson (1894); over 50 songs

Orchestral and chamber music pieces for solo inst(s) and orch; orch suites from stageworks; 2 pf qnts (op.89, d, 1895; op.115, c, 1921); str qt, e (1924); (Pf) Trio, d (1923); 2 pf qts (op.15, c, 1879; op.45, g, 1886); 2 vn sonatas; 2 vc sonatas; pieces for solo inst and pf; harp pieces

Piano music 13 nocturnes; 13 barcarolles; 9 preludes; 5 impromptus; 4 valse-caprices; Dolly, pf duet (1897)
(c)Groves Dictionaries, MacMillan Publishers Limited, UK

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