Emmanuel Chabrier

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Alexis-Emmanuel Chabrier (1841-1894), French composer and pianist considered a precursor to Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel, was a lawyer and bureaucrat who composed part time until into his late thirties. He was greatly influenced by Richard Wagner in his early years, but friendships with the Impressionist painter, Manet, the writer, Verlaine and other composers, including Gabriel Faure, Vincent D'Indy and Ernest Chausson, helped give his music a colour all his own. He is known for his imaginative orchestration and the lyricism of his piano works. He also had a fine sense for comedy.

He wrote operas with varying degrees of success, but sufficient to allow him tho take up full-time composing in 1880. Three years later was published the work that brought him fame and is his most oft played work today; the orchestral rhapsody, “Espana”. Also frequently performed is the lyrical “Suite pastorale” an orchestration of his “10 Pièces pittoresques” for piano.

His works include various operas, both serious and comic, a number of works for orchestra, much piano music, most of which is performed today, and a few vocal works, mostly comic.

He died from the effects of syphilis and stress at the age of 54, having been forced to give up his career at the height of his popularity. His music with its inventiveness, and rhythmic vigour inspired younger composers, not least of all Ravel.

Reference: “The Grove Concise Dictionary of Music”

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