The good song

There are certain poems that attract composers like bees to flowers; one such is Paul Verlaine’s La lune blanche. A quick song tally arrived at a total of at least 137(!) different settings of the poem, and that’s just in the original French – there were  lots more that had been set in translation. Here […]

Nocturnes vs. Barcarolles

Solo piano music forms a large part of Fauré’s output. And, while there are pieces with such titles as ‘impromptu’ and ‘valse-caprice’, the greatest body of work (26 opuses in all) is collected together under two headings: Nocturnes and Barcarolles. The initial stimulus for these is clearly derived from Chopin, as is the musical style […]

Requiem: Requiescat in pace?

Unusually, it’s the pace (peace) word that’s predominant in Fauré’s setting of the Requiem, the Mass for the Dead. Many composers – Mozart, Berlioz, Verdi, to name but the most famous – seem to have taken a certain grisly and theatrical delight in portraying the terrors of the Day of Judgement as depicted in the […]

Clair de lune

Moonlight. Verlaine’s poetry translated by Fauré & Debussy …Au calme clair de lune triste et beau, Qui fait rêver les oiseaux dans les arbres Et sangloter d’extase les jets d’eau, Les grands jets d’eau sveltes parmi les marbres. Paul Verlaine: Clair de lune from Fêtes galantes […In the calm moonbeams, sad and beautiful, Which make […]

Dolly

Music for children: French composers have provided some of the most famous. There’s Bizet’s Jeux d’enfants, Debussy’s Children’s Corner, Ravel’s Ma Mère l’Oye and, of course, Fauré’s Dolly Suite. Some were written for children to listen to, and some for – albeit pretty musically gifted – children to play. Judging from the photo above (Fauré […]