Ernest Chausson

Donald Macleod explores the friendships, influences and struggles in the life and work of Ernest Chausson. Amédée-Ernest Chausson grew up in Paris during a period of great political, social and economic upheaval in France, from the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War to the advent of the Third Republic. His family, however, was materially little affected, profiting from their involvement in Napoleon’s remodelling of the medieval city into wide open boulevards. Living a bourgeois lifestyle amongst the salon society of the mid-nineteenth century, they boasted an extensive art collection in their family mansion, where Chausson later remained with his wife and children. Supported by a private income unlike most of his creative peers, he was able to devote himself to composing with no financial pressure. But Chausson’s life wasn’t without a care in the world. Critics saw him as a dilettante, and his relatively small output reflects the agonies of doubt in his mind. He battled to find his own voice at a time when Wagner had cast a long shadow over French music - his only opera took almost ten years to complete. This struggle for artistic recognition was only just turning a corner when he died unexpectedly at the age of 44 in 1899. In this episode, Donald Macleod looks at the cultural advantages of Chausson’s family circle, fostering his passion for art which he indulged at home and on his travels. He uncovers Chausson’s musical friendships with Debussy and Franck, and his struggles to create – the torment of writing a symphony, and how enchanted forests, myths and legends inspired his rare forays into the world of theatre. Music featured: Pièce for cello (or viola) and piano, Op 39 Sérénade italienne; Les papillons; La dernière feuille, (7 Melodies, Op 2) La caravane Serres chaudes, Op 24 Poème for violin and orchestra L’aveu; Apaisement, Op 13 Andante and Allegro Viviane, op 5 Piano Trio in G minor, Op 3 (4th mvt) Symphony in B flat, Op 20 (3rd mvt) Sicilienne, Op 21 4 Mélodies, Op 8 Symphony in B flat, Op 20 (1st mvt) Poème de l’amour et de la mer, Op 19 La Nuit, Op 11 Chanson perpetuelle, Op 37 Soir de Fête, Op 32 Piano Quartet in A major Op 30 (1st mvt) La Légende de Sainte-Cécile, Op 22 (Act 3 Finale) Dans la forêt du charme et de l’enchantement, Op 36 no 2 Excerpts from La Tempête; La Légende de Ste Cécile; Le roi Arthus For full tracklistings, including artist and recording details, and to listen to the pieces featured in full (for 30 days after broadcast) head to the series page for Chausson: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000092k And you can delve into the A-Z of all the composers we’ve featured on Composer of the Week here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/3cjHdZlXwL7W41XGB77X3S0/composers-a-to-z

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