Sonate pour piano?

Can you think of a famous late nineteenth/early twentieth century French piano sonata? If you drew a blank, don’t worry, it’s not all that surprising – the list of composers who didn’t write one reads like a Who’s-Who of French music of the fin de siècle: Gounod, Massenet, Saint-Saëns, Chabrier, Fauré, Chausson, Debussy, Satie, Ravel […]

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 […]

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 […]

Octophonics

Stockhausen? Cage?? No, the first(?) composer to employ eight separate sound sources (octophonics) did it  somewhere around 1570! In his 40 part motet Spem in alium Thomas Tallis divides the voices into eight choirs of five singers each (soprano, alto, tenor, baritone and bass); his writing – the passing of material from chorus to chorus –would […]