Tag Archives: Gabriel Fauré

Master par Excellence

I have already mentioned Gabriel Fauré in my first post of this series, but as I listen to this composer a lot right now, and also because he is interesting in the content of comparing the late Romanticism with the Modernism, due to his own transition during those years. I will make another post about Fauré.

I’m no expert in music theory, so I can’t get into a deep explanation about his development,  but you can listen for yourself to this two Violin pieces, both wonderful but the difference is very clear. :

Violin sonata, Op. 13 Composition Year 1875-76:

Fauré was professor of composition at the Paris Conservatoire from the mid 1890’s and from the first decade the headmaster, one of his famous students was Maurice Ravel. After Fauré’s death, the Conservatoire rejected his radical teaching.

Violin sonata, Op. 108 Composition Year 1916-17:

In 1945 Musicologist Leslie Orrey wrote in The Musical Times, “‘More profound than Saint-Saëns, more varied than Lalo, more spontaneous than d’Indy, more classic than Debussy, Gabriel Fauré is the master par excellence of French music.”

String Quartet in E minor, Op 121, is his last work, completed in 1924

Romanticism, Modernism and beyond.

Edvard Grieg, Violin Sonata No. 2 (1867)

You may ask the question, why mix romanticism with modernism, aren’t those supposed to be oppositions. Yes and no, to some extend one was a reaction to the other, but historically they fall within the birth of modern times, growing industrialism, political radical changes, brand new approach to art in general, and a rapid innovation in technologi and science all began in the 1800’s.

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov: Russian Easter Festival Overture (1888)

The shift in economy, with a growing middle class, changed the fundaments of music, where the classic era composers was normaly writing for a patron, the romantic era composer was writing for public performance , opening a new freedom of expression. Unrestrained emotional expression was the goal of the romantic period, and no means was left unchallenged to reach the goal, incorporating new elements and new methods, into classical music, new forms like preludes and nocturnes, and new use of chromatic structures, added cords, non-standard time signatures and new chord progressions.

Gabriel Fauré – Elegie (1883), known to be one of the last French pieces written in a Romantic style. Fauré would later compose in a styles highly radical and modern.

The romantic period in music, happened during turbulent times, and composers was laying down the ground works, which would pave the way into our modern understanding of music. As the other arts would experiment in all directions into the 20’s century, so would classical music.

Gabriel Fauré – Une châtelaine en sa tour (1918)

Every thinkable boundary would be broken, and every possible source of sound would be explored, in the years to come. The very notion of what constitutes “music” was to be redefined, in classical music as well as in experimental forms of Jazz, Rock and Electronic music.

Contemporary Austrian composer Olga Neuwirth : Vampyrotheone