The Composer and his Muse: Gabriel Faure, Emma Bardac, Adela Maddison and Marguerite Hasselmans


Gabriel Urbain Fauré was a French Romantic composer, organist, pianist and teacher. He was one of the foremost French composers of his generation, and his musical style influenced many 20th-century composers. Among his best-known works are his Pavane, Requiem, nocturnes for piano and the songs "Après un rêve" and "Clair de lune", ("Moonlight") Op. 46 No 2, a song composed in 1887 to words by Paul Verlaine. The lyric is from Verlaine's early collection Fêtes galantes (1869). It inspired not only Fauré but Claude Debussy, who set it in 1881 and wrote a well known piano piece inspired by it in 1891.



Though he lived well into the 20th century, he was born when Chopin was still alive and only eighteen years after Beethoven's death. Most of the Romantic era's composers were his contemporaries, he came to know many of them and outlived most of them.




A master of his craft and innovative in his work, his now classic Requiem was performed at the memorial service for singer Bing Crosby at New York's St. Bartholomew's Church (where the young Leopold Stokowski had been the organist). His music, now a staple of his country's literature, ultimately and perhaps even inevitably made him famous and respected by the musical world - and he was quite deaf toward the end of his life. Beethoven, whose deafness manifested itself relatively early, had lamented why he himself should be ". . . lacking in the sense in which I should be more perfect than others." It takes little effort to imagine the same thought in the mind of composer Gabriel Fauré.

In 1883 Fauré married Marie Fremiet, the daughter of a leading sculptor, Emmanuel Fremiet. The marriage was affectionate, but Marie became resentful of Fauré's frequent absences, his dislike of domestic life – "horreur du domicile" – and his love affairs, while she remained at home.

Emma Bardac
According to Grove's Dictionary of Music & Musicians, ". . . Although he always retained a great affection for his wife, her withdrawn, bitter and difficult character, coupled with Fauré's keen sensuality and desire to please, explain his infidelities." Fauré ultimately had significant liaisons with other (considerably younger) women, each of whom played an important role in his life. Among them were Winnaretta Singer (of Singer Sewing Machines), who commissioned works from him and offered practical assistance, and Emma Bardac, who inspired a song cycle.

Gabriel Fauré's liaison with Emma Bardac in Duchen's words, "began for the first time, in his late forties", he experienced a fulfilling, passionate relationship which extended over several years. His principal biographers all agree that this affair inspired burst of creativity and a new originality in his music, exemplified in the song cycle La bonne chanson. Fauré wrote the Dolly Suite for piano duet between 1894 and 1897 and dedicated it to Bardac's daughter Hélène, known as "Dolly". Some people suspected that Fauré was Dolly's father, but biographers including Nectoux and Duchen think it unlikely. Fauré's affair with Emma Bardac is thought to have begun after Dolly was born, though there is no conclusive evidence either way. Emma later divorced her husband in order to marry another composer - Claude Debussy, his second wife.





Adela Maddison in The Sketch, 1910
Adela Maddison, the beautiful brunette Irish wife of an English attorney who directed a small publishing entity, played the piano and even composed. Her relationship with Fauré initially involved the publication and promotion of Fauré's music in England, to which end she translated some of his songs into English.

From around 1894, Maddison and her husband played a major part in encouraging and facilitating Fauré's entry onto the London musical scene. She became Fauré's pupil, and he thought her a gifted composer. She composed a number of mélodies, setting the works of poets such as Sully Prudhomme, Coppée, Verlaine and Samain in 1900 Fauré told the latter that her treatment of his poem Hiver was masterly.

During 1898 – c. 1905, she lived in Paris without her husband; Fauré's biographer Robert Orledge believes there was a romantic liaison with Fauré, who dedicated his Nocturne No. 7, Op. 74, to her in 1898; this piece was expressive of his feelings towards her, according to Orledge.





Eventually she developed a passion for the admiration and advocacy of his music, and perhaps inevitably, for him as well: leaving her husband and two children in England, she moved to Paris to be near Fauré.

Gabriel Fauré and Marguerite Hasselmans
In August 1900 Fauré met the stunning Marguerite Hasselmans, 31 years his junior. He was 55, the same age as her father. She operatively became Fauré's mistress for the remaining 24 years of his life. She read Russian, conversed philosophically, was bold enough to smoke in public and wear makeup, and was a musician. Their union was a kind of second marriage: they were seldom apart. She taught piano at their Paris residence and took part in public performances of his work. Her presence at the inception of Fauré's music during this period gave her a special and perhaps even unique insight into these works and a first-hand perception of how they should be performed.

Fauré met Marguerite Long in 1903, a student pianist to whom he was introduced by her teacher. He was impressed enough with her skill and interpretation of his piano music to have her study with him. She ultimately promoted Fauré's work significantly by frequently playing it in public, but this became a mixed blessing for the composer. Marguerite Long associated herself with Fauré and his reputation with a zealous ambition that eventually irritated him and wore his patience thin. She proclaimed herself as being "the sole heiress to the Fauré tradition," which prompted him to describe her to an intimate as, "a shameless woman who uses my name to get on." It's still very much to her credit that she continued championing Fauré's music as long as she lived.

Gabriel Fauré suffered from poor health in his later years, brought on in part by heavy smoking. Despite this, he remained available to young composers, including members of Les Six, most of whom were devoted to him. Nectoux writes, "In old age he attained a kind of serenity, without losing any of his remarkable spiritual vitality, but rather removed from the sensualism and the passion of the works he wrote between 1875 and 1895."

In his last months, Gabriel Fauré struggled to complete a string quartet. Twenty years earlier he had been the dedicatee of Ravel's String Quartet. Ravel and others urged Fauré to compose one of his own. He refused for many years, on the grounds that it was too difficult. When he finally decided to write it, he did so in trepidation, telling his wife, "I've started a Quartet for strings, without piano. This is a genre which L.v. Beethoven in particular made famous, and causes all those who are not L.v. Beethoven to be terrified of it." He worked on the piece for a year, finishing it on September 11, 1924, less than two months before he died, working long hours towards the end to complete it. The quartet was premiered after his death; he declined an offer to have it performed privately for him in his last days, as his hearing had deteriorated to the point where musical sounds were horribly distorted in his ear.




Gabriel Fauré died in Paris from pneumonia on November 4, 1924 at the age of 79. He was given a state funeral at the Église de la Madeleine and is buried in the Passy Cemetery in Paris.



Sources:
bach-cantatas.com
www.mfiles.co.uk/composers
 https://en.wikipedia.org

The Story Behind Beethoven’s Rage Over A Lost Penny

Beethoven’s rage was as famous as his cantankerous household habits.

He moved dozens of times, often the result of a dispute with the landlord.

Once Beethoven cut a hole in the wall of his RENTAL apartment, because he thought there was a fine view of the Cathedral that he was missing.

His landlord was a little perturbed, having not been told of Beethoven’s whimsical alterations.

Beethoven’s reaction was to get mad at the landlord, and immediately move to another apartment, leaving the huge hole in wall.

Beethoven was also known to play the piano loudly, and many complaints were registered by neighbors about the great composer’s strange hours.

He was famous for his disputes with his housekeepers, and had trouble finding anyone who would work in a household in such constant turmoil.

There were complaints by neighbors of loud crashing noises as Beethoven threw plates and books at the maids he had hired to serve him.

Beethoven often accused the maids of stealing coins from him.

And the Maestro’s dining habits left much to be desired.

One housekeeper would bring him a tray of food only to find that it was untouched weeks later. Uneaten trays of food piled up in the corner, right next to stacks of scores of the great genius’s symphonies.

But Beethoven was more likely to eat at the neighborhood pub than his lonely apartments.

He was a fixture at the local bar and would drink red wine in his private booth.

At one point Beethoven was composing his famed RONDO CAPRICCIO, a booming and boisterous piece that exuded energy and vitality.

One night a neighbor heard a loud dispute.

Beethoven was in a rage, accusing a maid of stealing a gold penny, and he was screaming. The maid ran out, never to be heard from again.

The neighbor then heard furniture crashing, and he could only conclude that the great Maestro was tipping over furniture, madly looking for the lost gold penny.

The story spread through the neighborhood, and became part of the legend of Beethoven’s bad moods and curmudgeonly behavior.

But more remarkable is the fact that the piece Beethoven was composing at the time of this story, the RONDO CAPRICCIO, became nicknamed the RAGE OVER A LOST PENNY for its rollicking, pounding enthusiasm.


It remains one of Beethoven’s most cherished masterpieces.




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