Ernest Chausson, classical music composer

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Ernest Chausson


Ernest Chausson was a unique and individualistic voice among the late 19th century French composers. His output was relatively small, in part due to the great amount of time he invested in each of his compositions, but also the result of his career being tragically cut short. Yet, he nevertheless formed a distinctive bridge between the Wagnerian-infused music of Cesar Franck and the introspective Impressionism of Claude Debussy.

Born into a prosperous family in Paris on January 20, 1855, Chausson had an early interest in music. However, like some composers before him, his path, much influenced by his father, took him to a study of law and in 1877, he was appointed a barrister for the Court of Appeals. This same year also saw the completion of his first composition—the song Lilas. Chausson had little interest in law, and after some dabbling in writing and drawing, he set himself upon a course to become a composer. In October 1879, he enrolled in the composition classes of Jules Massenet at the Paris Conservatoire. Massenet recognized Chausson's burgeoning talent. Some of the earliest of the young composer's manuscripts are preserved, bearing corrective marks in Massenet's hand. Chausson, however, chose to interrupt his studies with Massenet after a failed attempt to win the prestigious Prix de Rome. During 1882-83, he traveled, including a sojourn to Bayreuth to attend the premiere of Wagner's finale opera, Parsifal.

In 1886, Chausson was named secretary of the Société Nationale de Musique, an organization founded by Saint-Saëns and other likeminded musicians for the promotion of French music. With this appointment, he became a permanent member of Paris's artistic circle. His home became the frequent meeting place of artists, such as Henri Duparc, Gabriel Fauré, Claude Debussy, Stephané Mallarmé, and Claude Monet. During the following years, Chausson's career as a composer began to take root and flourish. However, an apparent accident tragically ended his life in 1899. On June 10, while staying at the Château de Mioussets in Limay, Yvelines, he was killed instantly when he struck a brick wall while riding his bicycle downhill.

Though he produced only thirty-nine opus-numbered works in his career, Ernest Chausson music nonetheless possessed a unique and distinctive style and passion, even if it has never attained a place among the greatest composers of French music. He completed only one opera, Le roi Arthus (King Arthur); his orchestral output was small, but includes his lone Symphony in B-flat and the Poème for violin and orchestra, an important piece in the repertoire of the violin. He composed many songs, which along with his chamber works, continue to this day to make occasional appearances on concert programs.

Composer Title Date Action
Ernest Chausson Concerto in D Major for Piano Violin and String Quartet, op.21. 1st. mvt. 02/11/2009 Play Add to playlist
Ernest Chausson Andante et Allegro 03/21/2009 Play Add to playlist
Ernest Chausson Hebe 03/27/2009 Play Add to playlist
Ernest Chausson Andante et Allegro 01/27/2009 Play Add to playlist
Ernest Chausson Poéme, Op. 25 03/01/2009 Play Add to playlist
Ernest Chausson Le colibri 02/28/2011 Play Add to playlist
Ernest Chausson Les papillons 02/28/2011 Play Add to playlist
Ernest Chausson Andante et Allegro 02/04/2009 Play Add to playlist
Ernest Chausson Poème, Op. 25 12/29/2011 Play
Ernest Chausson Poéme, Op. 25 01/08/2015 Play Add to playlist
Ernest Chausson Poéme, Op. 25 01/23/2016 Play
Ernest Chausson Pièce, Op. 39 07/21/2016 Play Add to playlist