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Paul Dukas

Paul Abraham Dukas (October 1, 1865 – May 17, 1935) was a French composer and teacher of classical music.

Biography

Paul Dukas was born in Paris to a Jewish father and Catholic mother. He studied under Théodore Dubois and Ernest Guiraud at the Conservatoire de Paris, where he became friends with the composer Claude Debussy. After completing his studies Dukas found work as a music critic and orchestrator; he was unusually gifted in orchestration and was one of the most sensitive and insightful critics of the era.

Although Dukas wrote a fair amount of music, he was a perfectionist and destroyed many of his pieces out of dissatisfaction with them. Only a few of his compositions remain. His first surviving work of note is the energetic Symphony in C (1896), which belongs to the tradition of Beethoven and CĂ©sar Franck. Like Franck's only symphony, Dukas' is in three movements rather than the conventional four: Allegro non troppo, ma con fuoco; Andante espressive e fuoco; Allegro spiritoso.[1]

The symphony was followed by another orchestral work, L'apprenti sorcier (English: The Sorcerer's Apprentice) (1897), which is based on Goethe's poem "Der Zauberlehrling". The Sorcerer's Apprentice was used (in a slightly redacted version) in the Walt Disney film Fantasia - a total of perhaps one minute of the ten-and-a-half minute piece was omitted. Dukas's rhythmic mastery and vivid orchestration are evident in both the Symphony in C and the The Sorcerer's Apprentice.

Paul Dukas and students of his composition class at the Paris Conservatoire, 1929.

For the piano, Dukas wrote two complex and technically demanding large-scale works, a Sonata in E-flat minor (1901) and Variations, interlude and finale on a theme of Rameau (1902), again reminiscent of Beethoven and Franck. (There are also two smaller works for piano solo.) The Sonata did not enter the mainstream repertoire, but it has been more recently championed by such pianists as Marc-André Hamelin.

The opera Ariane et Barbe-Bleue ("Ariadne and Bluebeard"), on which he worked from 1899 to 1907, has often been compared to Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande, partly because of musical similarities and partly because both operas are based on libretti by Maurice Maeterlinck. Dukas's last major work was the sumptuous oriental ballet La Péri (1912) about a man who reached the Ends of the Earth in a quest to find immortality, coming across a mythical Peri, holding The Flower of Immortality.

It is interesting to note that, due to the very quiet opening pages of this latter work, the composer added a brief 'Fanfare pour preceder La Peri' which gave the typically noisy audiences of the day time to settle in their seats before the work proper began.

In the last decades of his life, Dukas became well known as a teacher of composition, with many famous students including Joaquín Rodrigo, Manuel Ponce, Maurice Duruflé, Xian Xinghai, Olivier Messiaen, Jehan Alain, Carlos Chávez, and David Van Vactor. After Dukas died, he joined the many other famous people buried in the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris.

See also

Footnotes

  1. ^ Recording by Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, conducted by Jean Fournet, recorded March 1992
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Simple English

Paul Abraham Dukas (October 1, 1865 – May 17, 1935)[1] was a French composer and teacher of classical music.

Contents

Early life

Paul Dukas was born in Paris to a Jewish father and Catholic mother. He was taught music by Théodore Dubois and Ernest Guiraud at the Conservatoire de Paris, where he became friends with the composer Claude Debussy. He then worked as a music critic and orchestrator.

Early works

Although Dukas wrote a lot of music, he destroyed many of his pieces because he was unhappy with them. Only a few are left. His first important surviving work is the Symphony in C (1896). This is in the style of Beethoven and CĂ©sar Franck. Like Franck's only symphony, Dukas' is in three movements not the usual four: Allegro non troppo, ma con fuoco; Andante espressive e fuoco; Allegro spiritoso.[2]

In 1897 Dukas wrote another work for orchestra, L'apprenti sorcier (English: The Sorcerer's Apprentice) based on Goethe's poem "Der Zauberlehrling". A short version of the The Sorcerer's Apprentice was used in the Walt Disney film Fantasia. Dukas's use of rhythm and his skill in writing for orchestras can be seen in both the Symphony in C and the The Sorcerer's Apprentice.

, 1929.]]

Piano works

For the piano, Dukas wrote two complex and difficult works, a Sonata in E-flat minor (1901) and Variations, interlude and finale on a theme of Rameau (1902), again in the style of Beethoven and Franck. The Sonata has not been performed very often, but lately pianists, such as Marc-André Hamelin, have started to add it to their concerts. There are also two smaller works for piano solo.

Opera

The opera Ariane et Barbe-Bleue ("Ariadne and Bluebeard"), which he wrote between 1899 and 1907, has often been compared to Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande. This is because it is similar in its musical style, and both operas are based on words by Maurice Maeterlinck. Dukas's last big work was the grand oriental ballet La Péri (1912). This is about a man who goes to the Ends of the Earth to find immortality, and finds a mythical Peri, holding The Flower of Immortality.

Because the opening of the opera is very quiet, Dukas later added a short 'Fanfare pour preceder La Peri' which gave the usually noisy audiences time to settle in their seats before the main opera began.

Teacher

In later life, Dukas became well known as a music teacher, with many famous students including Joaquín Rodrigo, Manuel Ponce, Maurice Duruflé, Xian Xinghai, Olivier Messiaen, Jehan Alain, Carlos Chávez, and David Van Vactor. After Dukas died he was buried in the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris.

Music[3]

Piano

  • Piano Sonata (1900)
  • Variations, interlude et finale sur un thème de Rameau (1902)
  • PrĂ©lude Ă©lĂ©giaque sur le nom de Haydn (1906)
  • La Plainte, au loin, du Faune (1920)

Orchestra

  • Symphony in C Major (1896)
  • The Sorcorer's Apprentice, a symphonic scherzo (1897)
  • Villanelle for Horn & Orchestra (1906)
  • Ariane et Barbe-bleue (1907)
  • La Peri (1912)
  • Sonnet de Ronsard, for Voice & Piano (1924)

References

  1. ↑ "Paul Dukas" (in English). Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary Composer Biographies. http://www.music.vt.edu/musicdictionary/appendix/composers/D/PaulDukas.html. Retrieved 2009-12-22. 
  2. ↑ Recording by Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, conducted by Jean Fournet, recorded March 1992
  3. ↑ "Paul Dukas" (in English). Classical Net. 1995. http://www.classical.net/music/comp.lst/dukas.php. Retrieved 2009-12-22. 


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