Personalities | Gabriel Fauré | Late Romantic | Classical

(Ga-bre-el’ Fô-ra’) 1845–1924
French composer

Fauré, a pre-eminent master of French song, studied with Saint-Saëns in 1866, and succeeded him as as chief organist at the Madeleine in 1896. Fauré was appointed Director at the Paris Conservatoire (1905–20) and also served as critic for Le Figaro.

He was thus a powerful influence on twentieth-century French music, especially through his students who included Maurice Ravel (1875–1937) and George Enescu (1881–1955).

Fauré’s music is quintessentially French: lyrical, elegant, richly sonorous and harmonically beguiling, with a sensuous use of modes. His lyrical inspiration also pervades his Requiem (1887) and opera Pénélope (1913). His piano works owe much to Chopin, as is shown by their descriptions as impromptus, barcarolles and nocturnes, yet display distinctively French sonorities that also permeate the impassioned Second Violin Sonata (1917) and his piano quartets.

Fauré’s Songs

Fauré is central to late-Romantic vocal repertory. His oeuvre of over 100 songs, in three collections (1879, 1897, 1908) and four major cycles, offers challenges to even the greatest singers. Many of the earliest were written for the charismatic Spanish soprano Pauline Viardot, to whose sister Fauré was briefly engaged. Most popular of his first stylistic period (1870–85) are Lydia, with its punning use of the Lydian mode, the beguiling Aprés un reve (‘After a Dream’) and the plangent Les berceaux (‘The Cradles’). Here, the gently swaying accompaniment symbolizes the rocking of both the babies’ cradles and of the ships that transport their fathers through threatening seas. Fauré’s second style period (1885–1906) is significant for its masterly settings of Verlaine, the famous Clair de lune and two cycles in which individual songs are related thematically. In his late period (1906–24), Fauré set poetry by the Belgian symbolist Van Lerberghe in the cycles La chanson d’Eve (‘Song of Eve’) and Le jardin clos (‘The Secret Garden’), which attain a refined and visionary style of great expressive heights.

Recommended Recording:
Requiem; Fauré/Messager: Messe des pêcheurs de Villerville, soloists, Chapelle Royale, Petits Chanteurs de Saint-Louis, Ensemble Musique Oblique (cond) Philippe Herreweghe (Harmonia Mundi)

Introduction | Late Romantic | Classical
Personalities | Zdenek Fibich | Late Romantic | Classical


An extensive music information resource, bringing together the talents and expertise of a wide range of editors and musicologists, including Stanley Sadie, Charles Wilson, Paul Du Noyer, Tony Byworth, Bob Allen, Howard Mandel, Cliff Douse, William Schafer, John Wilson...


Classical, Rock, Blues, Jazz, Country and more. Flame Tree has been making encyclopaedias and guides about music for over 20 years. Now Flame Tree Pro brings together a huge canon of carefully curated information on genres, styles, artists and instruments. It's a perfect tool for study, and entertaining too, a great companion to our music books.

Rock, A Life Story

Rock, A Life Story

The ultimate story of a life of rock music, from the 1950s to the present day.

David Bowie

David Bowie

Fantastic new, unofficial biography covers his life, music, art and movies, with a sweep of incredible photographs.