The French Way XI - Henri Duparc - Lénore (1875) Symphonic Poem



Henri Duparc (Eugène Marie Henri Fouques Duparc) (21 January 1848 -- 12 February 1933) was a French composer of the late Romantic period.

Lénore (1875) Symphonic Poem
Based on the ballad by Gottfried August Bürger (1747-1794)

Orchestre du Capitole du Toulouse conducted by Michel Plasson

Duparc was born in Paris. He studied piano with César Franck at the Jesuit College in the Vaugirard district and became one of his first composition pupils. Following military service in the Franco-Prussian War, he married Ellen MacSwinney, from Scotland, on 9 November 1871. In the same year, he joined Saint-Saëns and Romain Bussine to found the Société Nationale de Musique Moderne.

Duparc is best known for his 17 mélodies ("art songs") with texts by poets such as Baudelaire, Gautier, Leconte de Lisle, and Goethe.

A mental illness, diagnosed at the time as "neurasthenia", caused him abruptly to cease composing at age 37, in 1885. He devoted himself to his family and his other passions, drawing and painting. However, he began losing his vision after the turn of the century, which eventually led to complete blindness. He destroyed most of his music, leaving fewer than 40 works to posterity. In a poignant letter about the destruction of his incomplete opera written on 19 January 1922 to the composer Jean Cras, his close friend, Duparc states:

"Après avoir vécu 25 ans dans un splendide rêve, toute idée de représentation m'était -- je vous le répète -- devenue odieuse. L'autre motif de cette destruction, que je ne regrette pas, c'est la complète transformation morale que Dieu a opéré en moi il y a 20 ans et qui en une seule minute a abolie toute ma vie passée. Dès lors, la Roussalka n'ayant aucun rapport avec ma vie nouvelle ne devait plus exister".

(Having lived 25 years in a splendid dream, the whole idea of [musical] representation has become -- I repeat to you -- repugnant. The other reason for this destruction, which I do not regret, was the complete moral transformation that God imposed on me 20 years ago and which, in a single minute, obliterated all of my past life. Since then, [my opera] Roussalka, not having any connection with my new life, should no longer exist.)
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He spent most of his remaining life in La Tour-de-Peilz, near Vevey, Switzerland and died in Mont-de-Marsan, in southwest France, at age 85.

Duparc is buried at Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. A square in the 17th arrondissement of Paris, near the rue de Levis, is named in his honor.

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