Ernest Chausson

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Ernest Chausson (1855-1899), French composer, came from a well-off and cultured family and trained for the law before turning to music.

Whilst studying with Jules Massenet at the Paris Conservatoire he joined the circle of Cesar Franck supporters, and much of his early music is influenced by Massenet, Franck and, as was often the case at that time, by Wagner.

Later, he found his own voice, which was one of intense orchestral colour combined with sensitivity and a delicacy that was admired by no less a master than Claude Debussy. It is for these works that he is known today, certain beautifully formed chamber pieces , some songs in the melodie tradition and two works in particular: the evocative and moving “Poéme” for violin and orchestra, written for the virtuoso violinist, Ysaye -one of the most important pieces for violin and orchestra in the French repertoire; [1] and the moving, often rhapsodic Poème de l'amour et de la mer (“Poem of love and the sea”) two linked songs for soprano and orchestra, the orchestral writing looking forward to Debussy and Ravel in its ability to evoke mental images. [2]

By the time Chausson died - killed in a bicycle accident at age 44 - he was writing in a style distinctively his own and unmistakably French.

Reference: “The Grove Concise Dictionary of Music”