Faure, Gabriel Urbain


A notable figure in the history of music, who is  at the present time head of the Paris Conservatory, haying succeeded Theodore Dubois in that position in 1905. Faure was born at Pamiers, Ariege, a town near the Pyrenees and showed such musical aptitude that he was sent to Paris, where he studied under Niedermeyer, and Dietsche and was one of the few pupils of Saint-Saens. In 1885 Faure won the Chartier prize for chambermusic, and again attained that honor in 1893. In 1866 he was appointed organist at Rennes, and after five years spent in that position he settled permanently in Paris, where he was organist at the Church of St. Sulpice and St. Honore, and  chapelmaster at the Madeleine, succeeding Dubois as organist in 1896. That same year Faure was appointed professor of counterpoint, composition and fugue at the Conservatory, succeeding Massenet. For several years he has been the musical critic of the Paris Figaro. Faure's works are numerous and are of great beauty and high musical value. Unlike most Frenchmen of note he has not gone into the field of operatic or symphony writing to any great extent. By some critics he has been compared to Saint-Saens, whose   favorite pupil he was and whose intimate and devoted friend he is today. Faure's works include a one-act opera, L'Organiste; incidental music to Dumas' Caligula and Harancourt's Shylock; a requiem; a symphony in D minor; violin concerto; an orchestral suite; two piano quartets; a well-known violin sonata; and many charming piano and violin pieces. His most remarkable compositions are the choral work, La Naissance de Venus, and the music to Maeterlinck's Pelleas and Melisande. Among the best of his later lyrics are Apres un reve; En Priere; and Les Roses d'Ispahan. Musicians and critics have praised especially a berceuse and romance for violin and orchestra, an elegie for violoncello, and his impromptu. Other works are nine songs to the words of Paul Verlaine and other songs, which are full of sincere feeling and great beauty and which have made him known on both sides of the Atlantic; the seventh barcarolle, a harp impromptu and many delicate and finished piano pieces. Faure's life has been one of unceasing activity at first in connection with the National Society of Music, then as organist at the Madeleine and as a Conservatory teacher. In 1892 he succeeded Guiraud as inspecteur des Beaux arts, and, as already noted, Dubois, as head of the Paris Conservatory in 1905. His installation as director of the Conservatory was made the occasion of many deserved tributes to the composer, who is of an extremely modest disposition. Faure, it is said, at times displays the modern tendency of wandering through a labyrinth of harmonies in which, however, he never loses himself, and all agree that his music shows many rare beauties.