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BORDES, Charles (1863-1909)

Bordes, who studied with Marmontel (piano) and Franck (composition), is best known for his work to promote early music and develop musicology. In 1890 he became maître de chapelle at the church of Saint-Gervais in Paris, where with his choir he presented concerts of early polyphony. Gradually he organised more ambitious historical concerts, introducing audiences to works such as Monteverdi’s Orfeo and Rameau’s La Guirlande. In 1894, with the help of d’Indy and Guilmant, he founded in Paris the Schola Cantorum, a society that in 1896 became a school for church music. He also played a prominent role in the study of folklore, particularly that of the Basque Country, having been commissioned by the Ministry of Education and Fine Arts to assemble a collection of that region’s traditional music. He used it as the basis for various art songs (mélodies) and several instrumental works, such as Suite basque for flute and strings, Rapsodie basque for piano and orchestra, and his Divertissement sur un thème béarnais for piano four-hands. Deeply involved in that field, he helped found Les Chansons de France and, keen to stimulate interest in what he felt was a disappearing resource, took charge of that society’s journal. These many activities probably interfered with his personal creation, which was also hampered by his poor health, which led him to move in 1905 to Montpellier. Nevertheless, Bordes left an original catalogue of works, including in particular settings of poems by Lahor, Bouchor, Jammes and, especially, Verlaine, whose poetry he set as frequently as his contemporary Debussy.

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  • Charles Bordes
  • Charles Bordes
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  • Charles Bordes dirigeant les Chanteurs de Saint-Gervais
  • Couverture illustrée d'Accords perdus (L'Ouvreuse du cirque d'été)
  • Charles Bordes dirigeant les chanteurs de Saint-Gervais
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