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  • CAMPRA (André)
    • The son of a Turin surgeon, André Campra was born in Aix-en-Provence in December 1660. It was in this city that he trained in music with Guillaume Poitevin, chapel master of Saint-Sauveur cathedral.
    • After having occupied various positions in particular in Toulon, Arles and Toulouse, he succeeds Jean Mignon, recently deceased, as chapel master of the Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral in 1694. He resigned this position in 1700 to devote to secular music and more specifically opera ballet and lyrical tragedy.
    • Conductor at the Royal Academy of Music, he is famous for his scenic works, which have met with real success and have been staged many times. André Campra creates a synthesis between the French style and the Italian musical style full of charm and color. "L’Europe Galante" (1697), "Hésione" (1794), "Tancrède" (1702) and "Fêtes Vénitiennes" (1710) enchant the public with their inventiveness and their melodic and harmonic qualities.
    • In 1722, he became sub-master at the royal chapel of Versailles. His role as “ordinary composer” led him to write sacred music (cantatas, small and large motets, psalms,… and the famous Requiem for soloists, choir and orchestra).
    • Despite the support of his patrons, despite his reputation, André Campra died in Versailles on June 29, 1744 in great destitution.
    • © Didier Chagnas
  • Chausson (Ernest)
    • Ernest Chausson was born on January 20, 1855 Impasse Chausson in the 10th arrondissement of Paris. He belongs to a wealthy bourgeois family, owner of the land on the street which today bears the name of his grandfather, Pierre Chausson.
    • After studying law, Chausson enrolled in 1879 at the Paris Conservatory of Music in the class of Jules Massenet as a free auditor. He fails the Prix de Rome competition, leaves the conservatory and completes, on a private basis, his musical training with César Franck.
    • This period (1879 -1882) was marked by the composition of 7 melodies, op 2, on poems by Leconte de Lisle, Théophile Gautier, Paul Bourget ...
    • He travels to Germany and attends the representations of the Ghost Vessel and Richard Wagner's Tetralogy. Chausson returns several times to Bayreuth. In 1882, he and his friend Vincent d'Indy attended the creation of Parsifal. 
    • In 1886, Ernest Chausson was secretary of the SNM (Société Nationale de Musique) founded by Camille Saint Saëns in 1870. He held this position for ten years. Chausson takes Claude Debussy, Prix de Rome 1884, under his protection. He receives him in his Paris mansion and in his country house in Luzancy and helps him financially for several years.
    • Composers such as Henri Duparc, Gabriel Fauré, Pierre de Bréville, Claude Debussy frequent his salon 22 boulevard de Courcelles. They meet at the “Chausson dinners” Stéphane Mallarmé, Henri de Régnier, Yvan Tourgueniev, Isaac Albéniz, Eugène Ysaye, Claude Monet, Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, Maurice Denis, Odilon Redon etc.
    • During this period, Chausson composed the famous song-cycle "Poème de l'amour et de la mer" for voice and orchestra (1882-1893), La Légende de Sainte Cécile (1891) and especially his only opera Le Roi Arthus (1887-1894) -King Arthus-  for which he writes the libretto too. (The opera will be premiered in 1903 at the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels, four after the composer's death).
    • During a bicycle ride on the property of Baron Laurent-Attalin in Limay, the composer fell and died of a skull fracture on June 10, 1899 He was forty-four years old.
    • During the last years of his life he composed from Serres Chaud (1893-1896), five melodies for voice and piano on poetry by Maurice Maeterlinck; The Perpetual Song (1898) on a text by Charles Cros; Poem for violin and orchestra, 0p.25 (1896).
    • His latest works evolve towards a more refined style: Ballata, op. 29 (1896-1897), Quartet for piano and strings in A major op. 30 (1897), Some Dances op. 26 (1896), Paysages pour piano op 38 (1895-1896). He leaves unfinished the String Quartet op. 35, the third movement of which will be completed by Vincent d'Indy.
    • The composer has left an extremely diverse and high quality body of work (70 opuses, published or not, in seventeen years of activity) which continue to be played and recorded.
    • © Didier Chagnas
    • Dominique COSAERT (1959 -)
    • Born in Mouscron (Belgium) in 1959, Dominique COSAERT studied at the Royal Conservatory of Mons where he won the first prizes in written harmony, counterpoint, fugue, composition and choral direction.
    • In 1988, he received a scholarship to continue his studies as choirmaster at the Ferenc Liszt Academy (Budapest) in the class of Gabor Ugrin.
    • For many years he served as director of the music and dance academy of La Botte du Hainaut and professor of ensemble singing and choral conducting at the Royal Conservatory of Mons. Currently, he is the inspector of artistic education for the music field.
    • As a composer, Dominique Cosaert notably wrote works for choir (masses, requiem for women's choir, motets, secular works, etc.). Some of these were created by the vocal ensemble "Odace" which he has conducted between1998 and 2019.
  • Guillaume Costeley

    Guillaume Costeley (1530-1606)

    • This Renaissance composer was born in Pont-Audemer in Normandy. When he was thirty, Costeley became an ordinary organist and valet de chambre to King Charles IX, functions which he retained under Henri III and Henri IV.
    • In 1570, he published a collection of his works under the title Music by Guillaume Costeley, organist, comprising ninety-five songs with four voices, including four on texts by Ronsard, and some other compositions. Court musician, Costeley composed two occasional "battles" La Prize de Calais (Hardis Françoys), 1559, and La Prize du Havre, 1563.
    • Friend of the poets Jean Antoine de Baïf and Remi Belleau and humanists who frequent the green salon of the Comtesse de Retz, Costeley is considered to be a particularly fine and open mind.
    • In June 1570, at the age of 40, Costeley married Jehanne Blacquetot and settled in Evreux while remaining in the service of the king. He resides in this city until his death in 1606, serving at the district court, from January to March. In 1570, he is co-founder of the brotherhood of singers of the Evreux cathedral and five years later (1575), he founded the "Puy de Musique" in Évreux in honor of "Madame Sainte Cécile", the oldest musical composition competition with a national audience (it still exists at the end of the 17th century).
    • Costeley is one of the main authors of "French songs" which announce the "air de cour", a genre that flourished at the end of the 16th century. Costeley also composed motets and musics for organ including "Fantaisie sur orgue or espinette", the only one to reach us.
    • © Didier Chagnas


    Léo Delibes, French composer (1836 - 1891)

    Clément Philibert Léo Delibes was born on February 21, 1836 in Saint-Germain du Val (Sarthe). His father, a postman, died when he was only eleven years old. His mother, Élisabeth Batiste, belongs to a family of musicians. When her husband died, she moved to Paris. His mother and her half-brother Antoine-Édouard Batiste (1820-1876), organist at the Saint-Nicolas-des-Champs church in Paris, who taught him music.  

    Being an excellent singer, the young Leo entered the Conservatoire de Paris at the age of twelve, where he obtained a first music theory prize in two years. He also studied piano, organ and composition there, under the direction of François Benoît (1794-1878), Adolphe Adam (1803-1856) and François Bazin (1816-1878).  

    From 1853, he was organist at Saint-Pierre de Chaillot and coach-accompanist at the Théâtre-Lyrique (destroyed in 1860 by Hausmann to establish Place de la République). He, then, met Jules Verne, himself the author of opera-comic librettos, who was its secretary until 1855.  

    Léo Delibes begins to write for the stage. His first opera-buffa "Deux sous de charbon" was created in 1856 and was regularly performed until 1870. During this period, he composed around fifteen works, including the Omelette à la Follembûche (1859) in a libretto Eugène Labiche and Marc Michel, the Musicians of the Orchestra (1861), The court of king Pétaud (1869). In 1865, he became second choir director of the Paris Opera and was asked to write ballet music. La source (1866), Coppélia (1870), Sylvia (1876) gave him fame. His music was then applauded as much in concert halls as in theaters.  

    Léo Delibes left his duties as organist and choirmaster in 1871 to devote himself entirely to composition.   Professor of composition at the Conservatoire de Paris from 1881, after Napoleon-Henri Reber (1807-1880), it is with Lakmé, opera in three acts according to a short story by Pierre Loti, premiered on April 14, 1883, that it reaches an international audience never denied today. The air des clochettes remains an essential partition of the program of the colorature sopranos and the duo des fleurs (for soprano and mezzo) is regularly performed in concert.  

    The music of Léo Delibes with great melodic and harmonic fluidity is often considered easy to approach. Having never sought to be a "revolutionary", the composer reflects the Parisian musical life of his time, light and elegant.  

    Léo Delibes died on January 16, 1891 in Paris, leaving the Kassya opera unfinished, completed and orchestrated by Jules Massenet (1842-1912) and premiered two years later at the Opéra-Comique de Paris. He is buried in the Montmartre cemetery, in the same section as Jacques Offenbach, Louis Niedermeyer and Théodore Dubois.

    • Yvonne Desportes, 1907-1993, composer, musicologist and pedagogue comes from a family of artists. Born in Coburg (Germany), she is the daughter of conductor and composer Émile Desportes (1878-1944) and Berthe Froriep, of German origin, painter and designer of models.
    • Before being twelve, Yvonne Desportes exhibited her paintings and wrote her first work "Le Congé de Papa". She studies at the National Conservatory of Music in Paris and follows the teaching of Marcel Dupré, Maurice Emmanuel and Paul Dukas. She became one of the first women to obtain the First Grand Prix of Rome (musical composition) in 1932 for the cantata Le pardon. (following here Lili Boulanger, in 1913, Marguerite Canal in 1920, Jeanne Leleu in 1923 and Elsa Barraine in 1929). In addition to her job as a composer, she teaches music theory (1943-1959) at the Paris Conservatory, then fugue and counterpoint (1959-1973) and prepares future music teachers for the certificate of aptitude competition. music education (CAEM).
    • Yvonne Desportes composes a large number of works (more than five hundred), including ballets and operas, stage music and secular and sacred choral pieces, as well as didactic works including a "Precis of harmonic analysis" and a "Practical manual for approaching styles". She often accompanies her music with an original illustration.
    • She marries Ulysse Gémignani (1906-1973), First Grand Prix of Rome in sculpture 1933, met at the Villa Medici. They have three children including Vincent, composer and percussionist, inventor of Brontè (a percussion instrument) and Michel, painter, Prix de Rome 1966 and professor at the National School of Fine Arts.
    • © Didier Chagnas
  • DESPREZ or des Prés...

    Josquin DES PRES (Després, Des Prez)  

    Considered a European musician by the many trips he made throughout his career, Josquin des Prés was born around 1440 in Beaurevoir in Picardy.  

    He received his first music lessons at the masters of the Collegiate Church of Saint-Quentin, a major musical center at the time, and began his career as a singer at the Chapel of the Dome in Milan. In 1473 (or 1474), Josquin entered the service of Duke Galeazzo Maria Sforza in Milan as biscantor (singer using "his two voices", chest and falsetto).

    He writes a Music Book for the prince’s chapel, one of the most important in Europe. He was then found in the service of Cardinal Ascanio Sforza, brother of the Duke, whom he accompanied to Rome. He won the pseudonym "Josquin d'Ascanio". The cardinal introduces the musician to the court of the pope. From 1486 to 1494, Josquin was a singer and composer in the Sistine Chapel under the pontificates of Innocent VIII and Alexander VI Borgia. He accompanied Cardinal Sforza during his travels in the various courts of Italy and until Nancy (1493). He then returned to Milan and to France around 1499 in the service of King Louis XII, perhaps as chapel master at court.  

    From this period are the instrumental fanfare Vive le roy (1500), the motet Memor esto verbi tui, the song Adieu mes amours, and Ludovici Regis Franciae iocosa cantio, with voice called "vox regis".

    At the beginning of 1503, Josquin became "maestro della capella" of the Duke of Ferrara Hercule I of Este who sent him to Bruges to recruit singers and musicians. With the Duke's approval, he accompanied Philippe le Beau (born in Bruges) to Spain, who had inherited the crown of Castile. Returning to Ferrara in 1505, Josquin fled the city and an epidemic of plague to return to his region of origin of Condé-sur-Escaut near Valenciennes.  Emperor Maximilian 1st appoints him canon and provost of the Notre-Dame de Condé collegiate church, which he led until the end of his life.

    Josquin des Prés died in Condé-sur-Escaut in Hainaut, in 1521 or 1524 (around 76 years old). He is buried in the Notre-Dame de Condé collegiate church (destroyed).  

    Josquin des Prés, a composer with multiple talents and great fruitfulness, with almost 400 works attributed to him. He impressed Palestrina and Roland de Lassus. His music was widely distributed thanks to the musical printing press invented in 1501 by the Venetian Ottavio Petrucci  

    In the works of the Milan era, the influence of the cantus firmus of Guillaume Dufay (1400-1474) and Jean Ockenghem (1420-1497) is evident. While the motets and songs from the more melodious period of Rome and Ferrara evolve towards a simpler polyphony which gives more importance to the text.  

    © Didier Chagnas


    Gaetano Donizetti (1797-1848), the fifth son of a poor Bergamo family, was one of three great Italian romantic composers of the 19th century, with Rossini, Bellini and Verdi. Donizetti is best known for his operas and his masterpiece "Lucia di Lamermoor", but his work covers all genres and takes all forms: 71 operas but also symphonies, quartets, quintets, 28 cantatas and many compositions nuns (including a "Requiem" in 1835, on the death of Bellini) without counting the numerous pieces of chamber music and other "living room pieces".

    After his marriage to Virginia Vasselli in 1828, Donizetti moved to Naples, capital city of the kingdom of the Two Sicilies, where he was musical director of the conservatory then of the royal theaters from 1828 to 1838. With the death of Bellini at 34 ( 1835), and the withdrawal of Rossini (Guillaume Tell, 1829), Donizetti, is the undisputed master of the Italian scene. He goes to Paris at the invitation of Rossini. He discovered the composers Meyerbeer and Halévy and the "grand opéra" à la française.

    Back to Naples, he won a triumph there in 1835 with "Lucia di Lammermoor", composed in six weeks according to the legend, based on a novel by Walter Scott. The following years are particularly fatal. Death takes away his parents and children, his daughter, followed by his wife, victim of a cholera epidemic (1837). Depressed, he stopped teaching and left Naples for Paris.

    Despite Berlioz's criticisms of him, the "music capital" has a triumph in store for him. The French version of "Lucie de Lamermoor" was premiered in 1839 at the Théâtre de la Renaissance. Donizetti then composed a series of operas on French librettos: "La fille du regiment" (1840), "La favorite" (1840), L "inda de Chamounix" (1842), "Don Pasquale" (1843).

    In 1842, Emperor Ferdinand of Austria appointed him master of chapel at the court of Vienna, ("hofkapellmeister", as in the past Mozart). Donizetti then shares his time between Paris, the main Italian cities and Vienna.

    But the first attacks of the disease are felt. He can no longer walk, loses speech. Returning to Paris in 1846, he was interned at the Ivry asylum and then transferred to Bergamo where he spent his last months sinking into madness. He died on April 8, 1848, in full glory. •

    © Didier Chagnas


    Henry DU MONT or DUMONT (1610 - 1684)

    Composer born in 1610 in Belgium, near Hasselt, in Limburg (his birth name is Thiers, which means Mont), Henry Dumont received his musical education in Maastricht (Holland), including the organ. After a stay in Liège, in 1638 he became organist at the Saint-Paul church in Paris (under the name of Henry Dumont, or according to the publications of some of his works Du Mont).

    Harpsichordist at the court of the Duke of Anjou, brother of Louis XIV, from 1652, he entered the service of the Queen in 1660 and in 1663 became one of the four sub-masters of the Royal Chapel (with Pierre Robert, Thomas Gobert and Gabriel Expilly). He died in Paris in 1684.

    His compositions, mainly religious, include motets with 2 and 4 voices in French (paraphrase of the psalms of Antoine Godeau, bishop of Vence and Grasse) and in Latin, grands motets for choir, soloists and instruments and five "messes royales".


    Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924), composer, pianist, organist

    • Student of Camille Saint-Saëns at the Niedermeyer School, professor of composition then director at the Paris Conservatory of Music, melodist of Paul Verlaine and Albert Samain, Fauré was one of the great French musicians of the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the Twentieth century. He greatly contributed to the development and prestige of French music.
    • Gabriel Fauré was born in Pamiers (Ariège) on May 12, 1845 where his father was a teacher. In 1854 he obtained a scholarship and went to Paris to study at the Niedermeyer School, an establishment which trained church organists, choirmasters and chapel masters.
    • His masters are leading musicians: Louis Dietsch, Gustave Lefèvre and Camille Saint-Saëns with whom he remains linked for more than sixty years. At the age of nineteen, in 1865, Fauré obtained the first prize for composition from the Niedermeyer School with the Canticle of Jean Racine. After eleven years of study, he was appointed organist at the Saint-Sauveur church in Rennes (1866 - 1870).
    • During the siege of Paris in 1870, Fauré undertook to fight. During the Commune, he taught at the Niedermeyer School moved to Switzerland. Returning to Paris in October 1871, he was appointed choir organist at Saint-Sulpice church. and meets the main Parisian musicians of the time in the salons of Camille Saint-Saëns and Pauline Viardot, where he falls in love with his daughter Marianne.
      In order to promote French music and organize concerts for young composers, he founded with Camille Saint-Saëns, César Franck, Jules Massenet and Henri Duparc, the Société Nationale de Musique.
    • Fauré replaces Saint-Saëns, regularly absent from the Madeleine church. He was appointed choirmaster in 1877. After the great disappointment following the breakup with Marianne Viardot, Fauré traveled to Weimar where he met Liszt and then to Bayreuth to hear Wagner's Tetralogy (1882). In 1883, Fauré married Marie Frémiet, daughter of the sculptor Emmanuel Frémiet. Two sons will be born from this union. Her only income comes from her organ work and piano lessons. However, he did not abandon the composition. Thus were born Three Romances Without Words and other works for piano. The piano is Gabriel Fauré's favorite instrument, an ideal medium for his style, a mixture of elegance and refinement.  Throughout his career, Fauré follows the model of Chopin, a simple, stripped-down and sober musical language without departing from nuances and subtleties.  
    • From 1886, Fauré found his patron, "his King of Bavaria", in the Countess Greffulhequi who associated him with the creation of the Société des grands auditions musicales (1890). He dedicates the famous Pavane to him (at his request, Fauré adds a part for choir on a text by Robert de Montesquiou).  
    • Marked by the death of his mother, two years after that of his father, Fauré completed the composition of the Mass of Requiem in D minor, op. 48. Created on January 16, 1888 in the Madeleine church in Paris, the Requiem will be completed and revised in a version known as 1893.  
    • For Charles Gounod's funeral, October 26, 1893, Gabriel Fauré conducts the master's while Camille Saint-Saëns holds the large organ. Later, at the funeral of Paul Verlaine (January 1896), Fauré was at the great organ. On June 2, 1896, he succeeded Théodore Dubois as titular of the great organ of the Madeleine. The same year, Gabriel Fauré was appointed professor of composition at the Paris Conservatory, succeeding Massenet. His pupils are Florent Schmitt, Charles Koechlin, Georges Enesco, Maurice Ravel, Nadia Boulanger, Louis Aubert, Roger-Ducasse, Paul Ladmirault, Émile Vuillermoz.
    • From 1903 to 1921, Fauré was a music critic at Le Figaro. In 1905, he succeeded Théodore Dubois as director of the Paris Conservatory. Authoritarian, he made many changes, restored discipline and earned a reputation for intransigence.  After several failures Fauré, supported by the Countess Greffulhe, was elected to the Institut de France (1909). He broke with the National Music Society.  
    • Suffering from painful deafness since 1903, he was forced in 1920, at the age of 75, to retire from the Conservatoire. It is decorated with the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor, a plutarian distinction for a musician. Despite his poor health, he remained attentive to young composers, in particular the members of the group of Six (Georges Auric, Louis Durey, Arthur Honegger, Darius Milhaud, Francis Poulenc and Germaine Tailleferre) who refused Wagnerism.  
    • Gabriel Fauré died of pneumonia in Paris on November 4, 1924 at the age of 79. National funerals are celebrated in the Madeleine church. His Requiem is played there.  He rests in Paris in the Passy cemetery, not far from Messager and Debussy.  
    • © Didier Chagnas