February 15, 2020

Gabriel Fauré and Tomoko

Tomoko asserts that at each decade in life, certain composers are particularly apt. For instance, Tomoko recommends Fauré for pianists in their thirties; “He is so elegant,” she says. Tomoko also likes to explore composers’ lives because it adds to the richness and context of the music. To that end, then, here are some aspects of Fauré that inform his works.

Gabriel Urbain Fauré was born in 1845 in southern France. One of six children, he was the only musically sibling. Upon advice and with the help of a scholarship, his father sent Gabriel to a boarding school for nine years to study music, mainly church music. However, when composer Camille Saint-Saëns took over piano studies, he introduced contemporary music and mentored Gabriel. 

Upon graduating, Gabriel served as a church organist and gave piano lessons. Soon the Franco-Prussian War began, and he volunteers to military service. After the war he taught in Switzerland, and then returned to Paris to serve as a choirmaster and later a church organist. Throughout his life he also taught, later in life more composition than performance; he was even appointed health of Paris Conservatoire.

Early on, Fauré promoted new French music as a founding member of the Société Nationale de Musique, which included important composers of the day. This networking – along with frequent travels where he connected with still more computers -- stimulated his own compositions, which were mainly for piano and for stringed instruments. He was influenced by Chopin, Mozart and Schumann in his early years. His harmonic and melodic style were innovative, and presaged Impressionist composers as well foreshadowed Schoenberg’s atonal compositions. He was also a master of the French art song. 

For her album Touria, Tomoko performed two of Fauré’s early impromptus and “Siciienne,” which was originally written for a theatrical production.  The three compositions all have a lightness of spirit, which would lighten the day for performers in their thirties.

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