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Henri DUPARC (1848-1933)


A piano pupil of Cesar Franck as a schoolboy, HenriDuparc studied law, while continuing his musicalinterests with composition lessons from the sameteacher. Much of the music he wrote at this time, hediscarded, but in 1868 he published a set of pianopieces, Feuilles volantes, and wrote five songs, ofwhich he kept only two, Soupir and Chanson triste,although the other three were not destroyed and wererediscovered some years after his death. Duparc'scareer as a composer was a short one. In Paris he wasassociated with the foundation of the Societe Nationalede Musique, which gave its first concert in 1871 andinvolved, on its committee, Saint-Sa?½ns, Alexis deCastillon, Romaine Bussine, the violinist and composerJules Auguste Garcin and the composer and teacherCharles Lenepveu. As secretary of the organization,Duparc had a reputation for administrative efficiency,reflected in his subsequent career in local provincialgovernment but sorting ill with the hyperaesthesia thatended his creative career as a composer at the age of 36.

Duparc, in common with other contemporaries inFrance, was greatly influenced by Wagner. In Munichhe had heard Das Rheingold and Tristan und Isolde,during a visit there with Vincent d'Indy in 1869, and thefollowing years brought further visits, including, in1879, an expedition to Bayreuth with EmmanuelChabrier. At the same time he was at the forefront ofcultural fashions of the time, an enthusiast for theliterature, drama and painting of the day.

In the years that followed the end of his career as acomposer, Duparc continued to interest himself in allthe arts, occupying himself with painting and drawing,until the onset of blindness and in his final yearscomplete paralysis. He died in 1933 at the age of 85.

The creative career of Duparc lasted sixteen yearsand his most significant contribution to music lies in hissixteen solo songs. After the last of these, written in1884, he wrote nothing, but was able to work onorchestrations of some of the song accompaniments andon editing earlier compositions, while he was still ableto see. His choice of texts for his songs suggests a moodof melancholy that ultimately seems to have triumphedin final silence.

The 1868 songs begin with Chanson triste (SadSong) 2, revised in 1902 with an orchestral version tenyears later. The text is by Henri Cazalis, who used thepen-name Lahor. It was Cazalis, one of the Parnassianpoets of the period, who wrote the Danse macabre setby Saint-Sa?½ns and later the basis of the orchestral workof that title. The range of the vocal part is relativelywide, the accompaniment in broken chords, withadventurous use of harmony. This is followed inapparent order of composition by Soupir (Sigh) 8, alsorevised in 1902. The verse set is by Sully-Prudhomme,one of the leading French Parnassian poets of the time,and the setting is dedicated to Duparc's mother. Theearly group of songs also includes a setting of VictorWilder's version of Goethe's Kennst du das Land, fromWilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre, the Romance de Mignon(Mignon's Song), set by so many composers, fromBeethoven and Schubert onwards. Serenade 1 setswords by Gabriel Marc with an arpeggiatedaccompaniment that suggests something of the earlierwork of Faure. The group of five songs, of whichDuparc himself only retained the first two, ends with asetting of Sully-Prudhomme's Le galop 12, dedicated tothe composer's brother and impelled forward with theimpetus suggested by the text.

1870 brought Duparc's setting of Baudelaire'sL'invitation au voyage (Invitation to a Journey) 4,dedicated to his wife and acknowledged as one of thefinest of his songs. It was later orchestrated. In 1871came the dramatic La vague et la cloche (The Wave andthe Bell) 9, conceived first with an orchestralaccompaniment that was first arranged for piano byVincent d'Indy, to whom the work is dedicated, to befollowed by Duparc's own piano version of theaccompaniment. The words are by Fran?ºois Coppee,known as the po?¿te des humbles, from the title of one ofhis poems and his preoccupation with the ordinarypeople of Paris. The same year brought the duet forsoprano and tenor, La fuite (The Flight) 15, with wordsby Theophile Gautier and dedicated to Henri Regnault.

The girl Kadidja urges her hesitant lover Ahmed toelope with her, in spite of the dangers that threaten themfrom her brothers and the sorrow caused her father.

Written in 1874, Elegie 14, in memory of Henri deLassus, is a deeply felt setting of a prose translation ofThomas Moore's poem on the death of the Irish patriotRobert Emmet. In the same year Duparc wrote hissetting of Lahor's Extase (Ecstasy) 10, dedicated to thecomposer and writer Camille Beno?«t, later keeper ofantiquities at the Louvre. The song is again imbued witha mounting emotional intensity.

It was not until about 1879 that Duparc returned tothe composition of songs with a setting of Le manoir deRosemonde (Rosemonde's Manor) 3, with its hauntedsearch, dedicated to the author of the text, Robert deBonni?¿res. In 1880 or 1881 followed a setting ofanother poem by the pseudonymous Jean Lahor,Serenade florentine (Florentine Serenade) 7, with itssuggestions of Faure. 1882 brought a setting of theParnassian poet Leconte de Lisle's Phidyle 5,dedicated to Ernest Chausson, with a setting ofTheophile Gautier's Lamento 13 the following year,dedicated to Faure. Testament 6, written about thistime, is an effective setting of verse by ArmandSilvestre, a poet who attracted the attention of a numberof composers, in spite of what is now seen as themediocrity of his verse. The last completed song isLa vie anterieure (My Previous Life) 11, written in 1884and dedicated to the composer Joseph Guy Ropartz, asetting of a poem by Baudelaire. The rest was silence.

Keith Anderson
Item number 8557219
Barcode 747313221929
Release date 07/01/2004
Category Romantic
Label Naxos Classics
Media type CD
Number of units 1
Artists Vignoles, Roger
Pulley, Emily
Groves, Paul
Pulley, Emily
Groves, Paul
Vignoles, Roger
Composers Duparc, Henri
Duparc, Henri
Producers Silver, Bonnie
Silver, Bonnie
Disc: 1
La fuite
1 Serenade
2 Chanson triste
3 Le manoir de Rosemonde
4 L’invitation au voyage
5 Phidyle
6 Testament
7 Serenade florentine
8 Soupir
9 La vague et la cloche
10 Extase
11 La vie anterieure
12 Le galop
13 Lamento
14 Elegie
15 La fuite
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