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
Chausson (Ernest)

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Ernest Chausson is better known for his melodies and less for his choral pieces. Dying too early from a bicycle accident, he just did few scores for the choirs. This Ballata, written in1897, is a cappella work dedicated to a quartet "les petits...



MeF 138 / traditional folk song from Flanders, for 4 mixed voices Young lady, do not grieve, the feast of St. Anne's is coming up. It must arrive soon, then it will pass. Let's dance, let's jump, let's enjoy ourselves and be content. Such a life,...