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Gabriel Fauré

About Gabriel Fauré

Gabriel Urbian Faure was born May 12, 1845, in Pamires, Mid-Pyrenees, France. He was the youngest of 6 children born to Toussaint and Marie Faure. From the age of 9 he studied piano and organ with Camille Saint-Saëns at the Ecole Niedermeyer. Saint-Saëns encouraged young Faure to play piano music by Franz Liszt. In 1865 Faure was awarded first prize for composition, for his 'Cantique de Jean Racine', opus 11. In 1870 he served in the army during the Franco-Prussian war, and during the Paris Commune he was a music teacher in Switzerland, where his school Ecole Niedermeyer was relocated. Back in Paris he became organist at Saint-Sulpice.

Faure became a regular at the salon of Camille Saint-Saëns and the salon of Pauline Garcia-Viardot. There he met many prominent Parisian intellectuals: writers Gustave Flaubert and Ivan Turgenev, composers Hector Berlioz and Georges Bizet. With those contacts Faure initiated the formation of the 'Societe Nationale Musique' around the figure of Camille Saint-Saëns. Faure also took over the position of organist at the Eglise de la Madeleine in 1877, when Saint-Saens retired. At that time Faure became engaged to Marianne Viardot, the daughter of Pauline Viardot, but the engagement was broken off by Marianne.

Faure was sincerely in love, but heartbroken and so depressed, that he could not stay in the same salon. He canceled all social obligations and left Paris for a long journey. He went to Weimar, where he met Franz Liszt and expressed his gratitude by playing his own compositions to Liszt. Then Faure traveled to Cologne to listen to the operas of Richard Wagner, whom he admired. Faure's impressions from 'Der Ring des Nibelungen' were strong, but not enough to influence his own compositions.

Back in Paris he renewed his activity at 'Societe Nationale Musique'. He married Marie Frement in 1883, and the couple had two sons. He had to support his family. The lack of any musical success kept him working as the organist at the Eglise de la Madeleine, and also teaching piano and harmony, which took up all his time. His own compositions were sold to his publisher at 50 francs per piece with thw copyright. At that time Faure composed the exquisitely delicate 'Requiem' (1888), his most important choral work.

After ten years of hardship, Faure finally got promoted to the government position of the Inspector of Music Conservatoires in the French provinces. In 1896 he became chief organist at the Eglise de la Madeleine. He also replaced Jules Massenet as professor of composition at the Conservatoire de Paris. His students there included Maurice Ravel, Nadia Boulanger, Georges Enesco, and Charles Koechlin, who later orchestrated Faure's popular suite 'Pelleas et Melisande'. In 1890s Faure wrote piano duet 'Dolly Suite' and a vocal piece 'La bonne chanson' for Emma Bardac, the wife of Claude Debussy.

From 1905 to 1920 Faure was the powerful director of the Conservatoire de Paris. His song opera 'Penelope' (1913) is noteworthy. His works of the late years were affected by his hearing loss, which inevitably caused his retirement. He was the music critic at Le Figaro from 1903-1921. Faure died from pneumonia on November 4, 1924, and was laid to rest in the Cemetiere de Passy in Paris.

Source: IMDb Mini Biography by Steve Shelokhonov