The Kennedy Center

Gabriel Faur


French composer, organist, pianist and teacher, Gabriel Faure was born in Pamiers Ariege, France on 12 May 1845. It was said that Faure was "the most advanced composer of his generation in France." His style enormously influenced 20th century composers. Naturally gifted in music, Dufaur de Saubiac, recommended that his father take him to Ecole Niedemeyer. There he got a scholarship from Bishop of Pamiers.  He took piano, plainsong and composition with Rudolf Niedemeyer. He was there for 11 years. When Niedemeyer died, Saint-Saens took over the class, and was a big influence on Fauré career. In 1883, he married Marie Fremiet.
Faure started as the organist of St. Sauveur et Rennes (1866 – 1870).  He enlisted in 1870 with the Imperial Guard during the Franco-Prussian War. In April 1877, he was appointed choirmaster by Theodore Dubois, successor of Saint-Saens. In 1896 he became chief organist at Madeleine, and in October, began teaching composition at the Conservatoire. He retired in October 1920 at age 75. During retirement he continued to compose.
Faure earned several awards: the premiers prix in composition, in figure and in counterpoint for Cantique de Jean Racine op.11; solfege (1857); harmony (1860); piano (1860); special prize in 1862 and two literary prizes (1858 and 1862). During his retirement, he earned the award, Grand Croix of the Legion d'Honneur (1920). He was honored during the national tribute at Sorbonne with celebrated performers of his compositions and by the attendance of President Millerand.
His numerous compositions, including Claire de lune (1887) acquired global popularity. His early three masterpieces were the First Violin Sonata, the First Piano Quartet and Ballade for piano. Most of his works were presented in three sets, each one containing 20 compositions. The first one, mostly romantic verses and songs with style of Niedemeyer and Saint-Saens, were Apres un reve, La chanson du pecheur etc. The second set includes Automme, Clair de lune, etc. The third set includes La parfum imperissable, Promethee etc. One of his masterpieces, Le don silencieux was hardly ever played because it was not included in the sets. He died in Paris on 4 November, 1924.
Gabriel Faur