Spotlight on Great Classical Composers: Fauré


We are back with another post for our Spotlight series ~!  This month, we look into the legacy left behind by French composer Gabriel Fauré (1845 – 1924), one of the foremost French composers whose musical approach gave significant influence.

Fauré’s father was a Director at a teaching training college near Foix ~ where there was a chapel.  And as a young boy, Fauré would frequent the chapel to play on its harmonium.  By the age of eight, his father was advised to send talented little Fauré to the School of Classical and Religious Music in Paris ~ where he was accepted immediately after being heard by the composer-teacher Louis Niedermeyer who was also founder of the school.

Fauré spent his next 11 years at this school, studying the organ and the piano, as well as the fundamentals of composition.  In his later years as a student, Fauré came under the tutelage of Camille Saint-Saëns who became a lifelong supporter of him and his professional endeavours – often stepping in to make recommendations to positions for Fauré.

After graduating – not before winning the premier prix in composition – Fauré took on a string of church jobs in Paris and France as organist and choirmaster.  In 1871, together with other French composers Franck, Massenet, Chabrier, Lalo and Duparc ~ Fauré became one of the founding members of the Société Nationale de Musique.  Set up to cultivate a distinctively French musical tradition and to provide a platform for new music by French composers to be heard publicly ~ the Society saw the premiere of many of Fauré’s works, including his first Violin Sonata which positive response formed a turning point for him as a composer.

In his thirties, Fauré came to be acquainted with Winnaretta Singer – the daughter of Isaac Singer who invented the first mass-produced sewing machine.  Possessing a keen interest and sharp sense for the arts and music, Winnaretta came to invest her vast inheritance in the sponsoring of the arts and music.  And at her Salon in Paris, Fauré’s music was heard so often that he became known as the official ‘house musician’ of this space. 

In 1896, Fauré met the peak of his career – taking over as chief organist at the church of Madeleine in Paris, and the position of professor of composition at the Paris Conservatoire.  Less than a decade later, he rose to become the Director of the Conservatoire, and remained in office until 1920, when he resigned at the age of 75 due to health problems.

During the decades at the Conservatoire, Fauré mentored many students – many of whom later became renowned musicians and composers – Maurice Ravel, George Enescu, Nadia Boulanger, Jean Roger-Ducasse and many more.

Recognised as the leading French composer of his time, and an important figure in the lineage of French music ~ Fauré excelled best when writing for the voice.  His most well-known large-scale work ~ his gentle Requiem, and his contribution of more than 100 songs throughout his lifetime, gave rise to Ravel’s claim that Fauré had saved French music from the German lied !

Visit us in The Glasshouse now ~ to learn more about Fauré and the French lineage, as well as his Requiem !

Offering lightly-animated stories, interactive online activities and canvases, The Glasshouse #origins can be enjoyed by all, regardless of age (: !

Join us now in The Glasshouse ~ and stay tuned for our next Spotlight on Great Classical Composers coming to you in June !