Gabriel Fauré, a French composer and organist, was born on May 12th, 1845 in the southern French town of Pamiers. His music, characterized by unusual harmonies and modulations, was slow to gain recognition outside French. He is now acknowledged as one of the greatest French composers.
Fauré's musical predilections were apparent from an early age when it was found that he could improvise on the local church harmonium and a piano. He trained at the Ecole Niedermeyer as organist and choirmaster, coming under the influence of Saint-Saëns and his circle while working as a church musician. Recognition came slowly owing to the modernity of his music. In 1892 he became national inspector of the provincial conservatories, and in 1896 chief organist at the Madeleine and composition professor at the Conservatoire. In 1905 Fauré left his job at the Madeleine to begin work as director of the Paris Conservatoire, the most prestigious music position post in France.
His delicate and elegant but by no means harmonically unadventurous style has an unsuspected strength and emotional appeal. His opera Pénélope is regarded by many as a masterpiece. His best-known work is the Requiem.
In 1902, at the age of 57, Fauré began to notice hearing problems. As it got worse, he could no longer use his piano to test out his works and going to performances actually became a painful experience for him. Fauré passed away quietly on November 4th, 1924, from pneumonia.