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    Franz Schubert (1797 -1828)

    One of the most famous musicians of the 19th century; he is the grand master of the romantic lied (almost six hundred lieder)  

    Franz Schubert was born on January 31, 1797 in a suburb of Vienna, in Lichtental. His father is a schoolmaster, his mother a cook. His father taught him Latin, mathematics and the violin. His brother Ignaz gives him his first piano lessons. He is a pupil of Michael Holzer, the organist of the church who taught him the organ, the song and the composition. 

    Fellow at the chapel of the court of Vienna (1808) Schubert is first violin there. Antonio Salieri who was Beethoven's professor, noticed this and taught him composition (1808 - 1813). He composed his first lieder: Marguerite au rouet (Gretchen am Spinnrade) after Faust de Goethe in 1814, the King of alders (Der Erlkönig) in 1815, also on a poem by Goethe.

    After having been a school teacher for a few years, Schubert went to Hungary as music master for the daughters of Count Esterhàzy in their holiday resort of Zséliz (summer 1818). In love with freedom, Schubert travels with his friends musicians, singers and poets but spends most of his short existence in Vienna.

    Of a generous character, He lives poorly and devotes his whole life to music. Surrounded by friends, he organizes "schubertiades" musical and literary meetings in the private setting of a lounge where he presents his lieder (piano and voice, piano and choir) and plays the piano. 

    From 1822, the music of Schubert tired by the disease, became serious and more moving, like the lied of The young girl and death composed in 1824. In addition, his financial difficulties forced him to return to the service of the Esterhàzy for summer 1824, six years after his first stay.

    But, his health deteriorating further, he had to give up his social life and gradually cut himself off from the Viennese public, sometimes even from his friends. Symphony #8 “Unfinished” dates from this period. Beethoven, whom he admired, died in Vienna on March 26, 1827, without daring to meet him.

    As if freed from a paralyzing guardian presence, he entrusted La Symphonie #9 known as the Grande Symphonie to his friends and composed the upsetting and painful Voyage d'Hiver (Die Winterreise). It is the second great cycle of lieder in which Schubert takes up poems by Wilhelm Müller, the first being La Belle meunière (Die schone Müllerin) composed in 1823. This last great cycle, twenty-four Lieder on the theme of the journey of the loneliness and illusion, leads the art of the lied to its summit. It was presented in the fall of 1827.

    The last schubertiade takes place in January 1828. During his last summer and until his death in November 1828, Schubert regained a prodigious energy to complete / coveromplete, a harvest of major works: the Four-Handed Fantasy dedicated to the Countess Caroline Esterházy, the Symphony #9 known as la Grande, three ultimate Piano Sonatas n ° 19, 20 and 21. Fourteen lieder will appear under the posthumous title of Swan song (Schwanengesang).

    Franz Schubert died on November 19, 1828, at the age of 31. In 1888 he joined Beethoven in the musicians' quarter in the central cemetery of Vienna (Zentralfriedhof).

    © Didier Chagnas


    Claudin de Sermisy (c. 1495 - 1562)

    As many French composers of the Renaissance, the information held today is incomplete.

    We know that he was an altar boy and a cantor in the royal chapel in Paris around 1515 (reign of François 1er). In charge of canon near Abbeville. He then returned to Paris, to the Royal Chapel.

    Famous musician in his time (like Josquin des Prés), he was one of the masters of the Franco-Flemish school. His numerous compositions, both secular and religious, include polyphonic songs (usually 4 voices) on texts by poets of his time, but also Passions, Masses and Motets.

    He is considered one of the "Parisian" composers of the Renaissance.


    Fernando SOR (Ferran Sor i Muntades)

    • Spanish guitarist and composer (Barcelona 1778 - Paris 1839), Fernando Sor is considered the first guitarist to have developed an international career and the greatest guitarist of all time. 
    • At the age of seven, Fernando Sor, already trained by his father, carried out his first musical studies at the manecanterie of the Montserrat monastery. He studied the violin, the cello and the organ there, before devoting himself exclusively to the guitar and composition.
    • After the death of his father, his mother wants him to take up a military career. He is eighteen years old and enlisted in the army without giving up music. From this period dates his first "Italian" opera Telemachus on the island of Calypso (Barcelona, ​​August 25, 1797) which met with real success: twelve performances at the Teatro de la San Cruz.
    • Around 1800, in Madrid, the young officer met the Duchess of Alba (1762-1802) friend of Goya and protector of artists. The Duchess lavishes "the affection of a mother" on him and allows him to complete his musical training without leaving his military career.
    • Between 1808 and 1812, Spain was occupied by Napoleonic troops. He then composes patriotic songs with one or more voices. In 1813, after the defeat of French troops, Sor, rallying to liberal ideas, had to go into exile and follow King Joseph to France. He will never return to his homeland.• In Paris, the Afrancesado receives the best reception. The guitar enjoys great popularity in the capital and Spain is in fashion. Luigi Cherubini, Étienne Méhul and Ignace Pleyel shower him with praise. Such friendships enabled him to quickly carve out a fine reputation for himself as a composer, performer and teacher.
    • In the aftermath, follow ballets for the Royal Academy of Music, a concert piece for solo guitar, a comparative study on the Spanish dances in vogue in Paris: boleros, séguedilles, sevillanes, murcianas, manchègues etc.Thanks to Fernando Sor, the Spanish guitar is promoted to the rank of a noble and refined instrument, worthy of welcoming subtle transcriptions (Introduction and Variations on a Mozart Theme for Guitar by Fernando Sor Op. 9, Das Klinget so herrlich, published in London in 1821).
    • In 1815, the virtuoso was in London. In England, the ballet being more appreciated than the opera, the composer tries it out. His ballet Cinderella (created in 1822) achieved considerable success. He marries the dancer Félicité Hullin.
    • In 1823, the couple moved to Moscow. With always as much success, Sor composes ballet music, gives concerts and publishes works for the guitar. At the funeral of Tsar Alexander I (1825), we play his Funeral March. The new Tsar Nicolas also asked him for music for his coronation (1826).
    • The Cinderella ballet, with Félicité Hullin-Sor dancing the role, was chosen for the inauguration of the Bolshoi Theater (January 1825). Sor plays twice in front of the imperial family.
    • In 1826, Fernando Sor, separated from his wife, returned to París where he lived until his death. During this last period, he devoted himself mainly to the guitar (guitar lessons, compositions, concerts) and published in several languages ​​his Method for the guitar (1830) long considered as the main work for learning the instrument. Among the latest works are four collections of studies, twelve duets, eighteen pieces for guitar and some ballets and instrumental scores.
    • His final composition is a Mass in memory of his daughter Caroline who died in 1837. He died in 1839 and was buried anonymously in the Montmartre cemetery. His grave was only identified in 1934.
    • © Didier Chagnas

    Thomas Tallis (1505-1585)

    English organist and composer 

    Before being appointed gentleman of the Royal Chapel (Gentleman of the Chapel Royal), Tallis was for eight years (1536-1540) organist of the Abbey of the Holy Cross in Waltham in Essex, until its dissolution by Henry VIII, then organist at Canterbury Cathedral (1541-1542) where Henry VIII noticed it.

    For over forty years, from 1543 until his death, Tallis held the organ in the royal chapel. During this period, he will play and compose religious music for the four successive sovereigns on the throne of England: the kings Henry VIII and Edward VI, the queens Marie Tudor and Elisabeth Ire, of religions and different musical sensitivity.

    Tallis' early compositions are steeped in Catholic tradition. Tallis will always remain faithful to the Catholic faith, even after the emergence of Anglicanism. However, he settled his music on the Anglican reform and created numerous hymns and hymns adapted to the Protestant liturgy. Thus he succeeded in varying his compositions according to the different religions which alternated in England according to the sovereigns.

    In 1575, Queen Elizabeth I gave him the exclusive privilege for twenty-one years, to print and publish music, jointly with William Byrd who joined him in the royal chapel. Byrd published in 1575 a collection of thirty-six pieces by Cantiones Sacræ, sixteen of which were from Tallis. This unwelcome book marks the end of sacred music in England with texts in Latin.

    Tallis wrote his most elaborate works on Latin texts. He also composes in French, Italian and English. Tallis' work includes masses, motets, hymns, responses, magnificat and lamentations. His most famous motet, Spem in alium (In No Other Is My Hope), composed for forty independent voices (eight choirs with five voices) demonstrates his great skill and his perfect mastery of the technique of counterpoint. Legend has it that this masterpiece was composed for the 40th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth I.

    Composed in a period of trouble between Anglicans and Catholics, at the end of the 1560s, The Lamentations of the Prophet Jeremiah sung in Latin by a five-voice choir are the work of a composer who, arriving at the top of his art, sublimates the musical practices of his time: the golden age of English music.

    Thomas Tallis died in Greenwich on November 25, 1585. The epitaph and tombstone have disappeared, the parish church where he rested having been demolished in the 18th century. Since then, a plaque has been placed in the reconstructed church. 

    © Didier Chagnas

    • French organist, pianist and composer, the baron FOUANT de la TOMBELLE, Fernand de la Tombelle (1854-1928) was born in Paris (in a house in the rue de Tivoli, today rue d'Athènes). It was his mother, a former student of Liszt and Thalberg, who introduced him to music. In 1872, at the age of eighteen, the young man, already a gifted pianist, decided to devote himself entirely to music. He takes private lessons (piano, organ and harmony) with Alexandre Guilmant who has just been appointed to the organ gallery of the Trinity Church. At the same time, he studied at the National Conservatory of Music in Paris in the class of Théodore Dubois (counterpoint, fugue and composition). He is close to Saint-Saëns who advises him.
    • His music covers all genres: Cantatas (Sainte-Cécile, Sainte-Anne, Jerusalem, Joan of Arc), chamber music, pieces for organ and harmonium, religious and secular choral compositions, works for orchestra, pieces for piano, operettas , etc. He is also a photographer, sculptor, draftsman and painter. As a writer, he is the author of works of literature, poetry and also astronomy and ... cooking.
    • Particularly gifted artist with a very wide knowledge, Fernand de la Tombelle is deeply involved for developing musical education in the working classes, in particular in Périgord where his maternal grandfather is from.
    • After the First World War, Fernand de la Tombelle retired to the family castle of Fairac (Dordogne) to flee a society which, according to him, no longer understood him.
    • © Didier Chagnas