Chausson, Ernest – Classical music


JhThe mood that prevails in Chausson’s music is a bewitching melancholy…expressed in terms of sensitive refinement, beauty and aristocratic distinction of manners. Composer Kaikhosru Sorabji encapsulated the rarefied wonders of Ernest Chausson’s output – limited in quantity by his perfectionism and untimely death, but capturing the “zeitgeist” of fin-de-siècle Paris, with its languor and intoxicating mysticism, perhaps stronger than his contemporaries.

Who was Ernest Slippers?

Chausson is a sensitive and somewhat tortured character: beset by self-doubt, he is easily intimidated by the magnitude of the tasks he undertakes and haunted by what he calls Wagner’s “red specter”. His life was cut short in a bicycle accident in 1899, at a time when he had only recently achieved some creative flourishing. Most notably, he had succeeded in turning his own weaknesses into strengths; feeling at sea in the larger-scale genres he tackles, he invents, perhaps inadvertently, strikingly original forms for his more compact works. His most famous composition, the Poem Op. 25 for violin and orchestra – a miniature in one movement concerto – took shape in part because he found the idea of ​​writing an entire violin concerto too alarming.

When was Ernest Was Chausson born?

Ernest slipper was born on January 20, 1855, the youngest and sole survivor of three sons. Chausson is lucky to have an advantage over his peers. His father was a successful entrepreneur who had worked to build the grand Haussmann boulevards that still dominate Paris today. This well-to-do environment allowed Chausson – after having obtained a law degree to please his parents – to devote himself freely to composition. Still, it didn’t change much in his state of mind. “I know very well that I am what is called lucky, almost frightfully. And no doubt, I would be too much without this wretched, restless and violent brain.

Chausson’s two older brothers died young, one aged 22, the other only six. Perhaps as a result, his parents guarded their youngest son too zealously; and Chausson, who tended to be bookish, grew up mixing largely with people older than himself, missing friends his own age. Many of his senior companions, however, were creators of the highest order – for example, a regular chamber music companion was the artist Odilon Redon, 15 years his senior, who played the violin at the Chausson piano. More than a few aesthetic similarities existed between painter and composer, the soft, luminous, ineffable quality of Redon’s late pastels matching the rich, lyrical melodies, contemplative tempos, and sensual, luxurious harmonies of Chausson’s finest works.

Ernest At Chausson friends and influences

Steeped in literature, music and art, and gifted in all three (he even wrote a novel), the young Chausson struggled to decide which way to go, still hampered by the demands of his parents. to become a lawyer. When he recognized music as his true vocation, he became a student of Jules Massenet, who held him in high esteem and entered him (unsuccessfully) for the Prix de Rome; but Chausson found his true mentor in Caesar Frankthe Belgian-born organist, composer and teacher whose blend of religious mysticism and generosity of spirit wielded considerable power over a circle of young composers who became known as the Band to Franck. Among them, Henri Duparc, Vincent d’Indy, Pierre de Bréville and, later, Franck’s last pupil, Guillaume Lekeu.

Chausson has taken up much of the heady and “decadent” language of the great Melodies like ‘L’Invitation au Voyage’ and ‘Le manoir de Rosamonde’, and created with him a universe of his own; he also absorbed Fauré’s sinuous melodic elegance but not his spirit.

Does Ernest Chausson compose an opera?

In his collection of melodies op. 2 Chausson had achieved a high degree of mastery, but the question that hung around the neck of every composer at the end of the 19th century was how someone could compose in the wake of the Ring cycle.

For a man who would later feel that writing a violin concerto was somehow beyond him, the gargantuan scale of composing an opera could not be overstated. His chosen subject was King Arthur – King Arthur. The story has obvious similarities with wagneroperas of, with the courteous, mythical and cursed, the love of Lancelot and Guinevere recalling Tristan and Iseult. Chausson never apes Wagner, but seeks to free himself from it while creating a lyrical drama of a personal nature.

He worked at the opera for nine long years of anguish, from 1886 to 1895. But he was never to hear King Arthur realized: its premiere took place in Brussels in 1903, four years after his death. He suffered in the shadow of Debussyis more revolutionary Pelléas and Mélisande (1902) and, despite its rich, characterful and French beauty, it disappeared from the repertoire, along with Chausson’s grandiose work, his unique Symphony, Op. 20.

What is Ernest Chausson’s most famous pieces?

On the other hand, one of Chausson’s most enduring works is his Poem of love and the sea (completed 1890) – among his smaller-scale masterpieces exploring a new freedom of form. This work took him eight years to perfect. More than a song, less than a cycle of songs, it is a long monologue for mezzo-soprano and orchestra to words by the Symbolist poet Maurice Bouchor. It is divided into two sections recounting the flowering and death of love, linked by an orchestral interlude showing Chausson at his darkest, most languorous and most exquisite.

Chamber music brought Chausson his most immediate success. His Concert for violin, piano and string quartet, with its unusual instrumentation and title, stands out from the crowd. In search of a truly “French” expression following France’s humiliating defeat in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871, a group of young composers led by Saint-Saëns had formed the Société Nationale de Musique . Some have looked to the golden age of the French Baroque era; at Chausson Concert (of course, this is not a misnomer for a concerto), the violin and the piano mingle with the string quartet a bit like baroque “concertant” soloists. This work, with its powerful opening, its pastel-hued filigree Sicilian, its intensely poetic slow movement and its energetic and playful finale for Chausson, was so warmly received when it was premiered in 1892 that it gave tremendous impetus to Chausson’s confidence. Other chamber works, including a piano trio and a piano quartet, the latter among his sunniest compositions, are still overlooked.

The great Belgian violinist Ysaÿe conducted the ConcertIt was for Ysaÿe that Chausson created his most famous work, the Poem Op.25.

Chausson was an avid reader of Russian literature and had been greatly seduced by Tolstoy’s story. The Kreutzer Sonata. In the Poem, he effectively reversed the process of this story, basing a piece of music on a work of literature. He chose a popular supernatural story by Ivan Turgenev, The Song of Triumphant Love, in which a young woman is seduced, in a mystical shared dream, by a former admirer in possession of a magic violin. Ysaÿe’s contribution to violin writing has been invaluable.
But another composer contributed to the Poemlong-time success: Isaac Albéniz, who paid for its publication, and succeeded in hiding this secret from Chausson. Modest as always, Chausson was overjoyed to see his music printed.

Chausson’s music may have contained an ingrained sense of grief, but his personal life totally contradicted that after he met his wife, Jeanne Escudier. He dedicated his symphonic poem to her Vivianne. The Chaussons had five children; and in their beautiful home on Boulevard de Courcelles they collected both art and artists, their weekly salon being practically a who’s who of French culture. Painters, musicians and poets – Degas, Fauré, Mallarmé, Ysaÿe and many others – rubbed shoulders amid the walls adorned with the huge collection of paintings by Chausson de Delacroix, Manet, Gauguin, Hiroshige and many others. Friendship, which he lacked for so long in his youth, is a crucial source of inspiration for Chausson. Debussy, seven years his junior, confides in him and calls him “older brother”, until Chausson’s disapproval of Debussy’s tumultuous personal life leads to a rift between them.

When did Ernest Is Chausson dead?

A horrible irony remained. In 1879 he wrote: “There are times when I feel impelled by a kind of feverish instinct, as if I had the presentiment of not being able to reach my goal, or of reaching it too late. It proved eerily accurate one terrible day in 1899 when, riding a bicycle through the countryside, he hit a wall and died instantly. The few masterpieces he completed forcefully remind us that this “Mallarmé of music” is still probably the most underestimated figure of his generation.

Ernest Slipper composition style

Harmonic and melodic luxury

Chausson’s harmonic personality is exceptionally strong. From his teacher Franck he absorbed an intensely chromatic language which, though rooted in tonality, migrates through complex modulations and is constantly decorated and enriched by imaginatively inflected chord extensions. Its strong melodic lines shine on this subtle and fragrant background.

Polished instrumentation

Chausson’s orchestration is of a refined and transparent quality despite its opulence. Some of this may be derived from Wagner, particularly Parsifal, and may have had an influence on Chausson’s young friend Debussy. The instrumentation of his chamber music is just as sensitive,
in the Sicilian of the Concert.

Literary sensibility

Chausson’s music was undoubtedly enriched by his passions for literature and painting. He had an exceptional talent for creating atmospheres, notably the hothouse eroticism that dominates Poem Op. 25 as well as Poem of Love and the Sea. Many of his striking works have literary associations
(the Concert is an exception).

Decadence and despair

These qualities are characteristic of Chausson’s time, in particular of the Symbolist movement to which his music belongs. But his music seems to suffer eternally from the despair of a lost or inaccessible love and from a feeling of sadness bordering on depressiveness. Posthumous psychoanalysis being impossible, the origins of it have never been satisfactorily explained.

Artwork by Risko


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