Henri Duparc, classical music composer
(Eugène Marie Henri Fouques Duparc) (January 21, 1848 – February 12, 1933) was a French composer of the late Romantic period.
Duparc was born in Paris. He studied piano with César Franck at the Jesuit College in the Vaugirard district and became one of his first composition pupils. Following military service in the Franco-Prussian War, he married Ellen MacSwinney, from Scotland, on November 9, 1871. In the same year, he joined with Saint-Saëns and Romain Bussine to found the Société Nationale de Musique Moderne.
Duparc is best known for his seventeen mélodies ("art songs") with texts by poets such as Baudelaire, Gautier, Leconte de Lisle, and Goethe. These pieces are considered by many to be among the greatest compositions by any composer in this form.
A mental illness, called "neurasthenia", caused him to abruptly cease composing at age 37, in 1885. He devoted himself to his family and his other passions, drawing and painting. However, he began losing his vision after the turn of the century, which eventually led to complete blindness. He destroyed most of his music, leaving fewer than 40 works to posterity. In a poignant letter about the destruction of his incomplete opera written on January 19, 1922 to the composer Jean Cras, his close friend, Duparc states:
"Après avoir vécu 25 ans dans un splendide rêve, toute idée de représentation m'était – je vous le répète – devenue odieuse. L'autre motif de cette destruction, que je ne regrette pas, c'est la complète transformation morale que Dieu a opéré en moi il y a 20 ans et qui en une seule minute a abolie toute ma vie passée. Dès lors, la Roussalka n'ayant aucun rapport avec ma vie nouvelle ne devait plus exister.
(Having lived 25 years in a splendid dream, the whole idea of [musical] representation has become – I repeat to you – repugnant. The other reason for this destruction, which I do not regret, was the complete moral transformation that God imposed on me 20 years ago and which, in a single minute, obliterated all of my past life. Since then, [my opera] Roussalka, not having any connection with my new life, should no longer exist.)"
He spent most of his remaining life in La Tour-de-Peilz, near Vevey, Switzerland and died in Mont-de-Marsan, in southwest France, at age 85.
Duparc is buried at Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. A square in the 17th arrondissement of Paris, near the rue de Levis, is named in his honor.
L'Invitation au Voyage / Extase / Le Manoir de Rosemonde
Au pays où se fait la guerre
Le manoir de Rosamonde
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