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Chausson, Ernest

Ernest Chausson was the son of a wealthy contractor and his wife and was born in Paris. Despite earning a law degree in 1876, music was his true love. He enrolled in the Paris Conservatoire, where he trained with Jules Massenet and then César Franck for a short period. Between 1879 and 1883, he visited Bayreuth many times and became a devout Wagnerian. From 1886 until his death, he was secretary of the Société Nationale de Musique. Chausson and his partner, Jeanne, ran an active salon that attracted many notable people from all walks of life, and he established strong friendships with all of them, including the young Claude Debussy. Despite his stable family life (five children) and pleasant surroundings, Chausson struggled with crushing self-doubts as a musician. He was always "erupt[ing] with indignation at realizing how what I would achieve is too different from what I would want to do, from what I tend to hear in my mind," as he struggled to articulate his emotions with as much personal sincerity and pleasing artistry as possible (from a letter of 1884). Friends attributed his music's sadness to his relentless desire for what Vincent d'Indy considered "the better," a genuine concern for others' pain, and a strong fear that reviewers might underestimate him as a rich novice imitating Franck and Wagner, as many did. Despite his insecurities, Chausson wrote notable chamber and orchestral pieces, as well as a large number of mélodies and one opera, Le roi Arthus. Most critics thought Chausson discovered his own voice in the late 1890s, especially in the Piano Quartet of 1897. His career ended sadly shortly after, on 10 June 1899, when he lost control of his bicycle while cycling down a hill at his country estate and plunged head-first into a building.

Violin Compositions of Ernest Chausson | Animato Strings


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