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Gabriel Faure

(1845 - 1924)

Faure was born in France, Pamiers, Ariege on May 12th 1845.

In the rigid official musical establishment of Paris in the latter half of the 19th century Gabriel Faure won acceptance with difficulty.

He was a pupil of Camille Saint-Saens at the Louis Niedermeyer School.

Faure played the organ in various Parisian churches for many years and eventually became chief organist and choirmaster at La Madeleine.

In 1897 he became a teacher at the Paris Conservatoire, where his pupils included Boulanger, Ravel and Enescu.

He was appointed director of the Conservatoire in 1905 and introduced a number of necessary reforms.

Faure retired in 1920, after which he was able to devote himself more fully to composition, notably two final chamber works, a piano trio and a string quartet.

The most outstanding characteristic of his music is its elegance and reserve.

Gabriel Faure died in Paris from pneumonia in 1924.

He was given a state funeral at the Eglise de la Madeleine and is buried in the Cimetiere de Passy in Paris.

In 1893 Faure wrote incidental music for a production of Moliere's Le bourgeois gentilhomme.

The Sicilienne for this production was later used again in incidental music for Maeterlinck's play "Pelleas et Melisande" and later still won popularity in a variety of arrangements, including the composer's own orchestral version and arrangement for violin or cello and piano.

Faure's nostalgic Pavane is an orchestral work with an optional chorus part, added at the suggestion of a patron, but generally omitted in modern performance.

Music for solo instrument and orchestra includes the Ballade for piano and orchestra, the Berceuse for solo violin and the Elegie for solo cello.

Faure wrote several widely acclaimed songs capturing the spirit of his time, the mood of nostalgic yearning for the unattainable.

Some of the songs, such as Apres un Reve (After a Dream) have achieved even wider popularity in instrumental transcription.

In addition to individual songs of great beauty, Lydia, Clair de Lune, Les roses d'Ispahan, Sylvia, En priere and many others, there are song cycles, including the Verlaine settings a bonne chanson and Cinq melodies de Venise, L'horizon chimerique, La chanson d'Eve and Le jardin clos.

Faure's Requiem Mass remains a standard element in choral repertoire, with its setting of funeral rites.

The earlier Messe basse (Low Mass) was originally a collaborative composition of 1881 with Messager, but it's final revision in 1906 consisted of four Mass movements by Faure himself.

His operas Promethee and Penelope both reflect the influence of Wagner.

Faure's chamber music includes two fine Violin Sonatas and the Piano Trio and String Quartet of his last years.

There are several evocative smaller pieces, including the Romance, Berceuse and Andante for violin and piano and the Elegie, Romance and Serenade for cello and piano.

Faure made a significant addition to piano repertoire, particularly in a series of thirteen Barcarolles and a similar number of Nocturnes, with five Impomptus and a single Ballade.

The piano duet Dolly Suite was written in the 1890's for the daughter of Emma Bardac, later wife of Debussy, after divorce from her banker husband, a singer for whom Faure wrote La Bonne Chanson.

This duet was arranged for orchestra in 1906 by Henri Rabaud.



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