Home / Persons / KOECHLIN Charles

Print content of page

KOECHLIN, Charles (1867-1950)

Born into a family of Alsatian industrialists, Koechlin was a pupil at the École Polytechnique. After contracting tuberculosis, he was forced to give up the idea of a military career. He entered the Paris Conservatoire in 1890. Gédalge’s counterpoint class whetted his interest in Bach, while the music history class of Bourgault-Ducoudray aroused his curiosity for modal music and folksong. He studied composition with Massenet, then with Fauré, who made a deep impression on him. Impressively erudite, Koechlin published music criticism, numerous articles on theory, works on Debussy and Fauré, a Traité de l’harmonie and a Traité de l’orchestration, which are still regarded as authoritative. For a long time, his work as a pedagogue, theorist and musicologist overshadowed his role as a composer, whose music began to be performed more during the 1930s. This may have been the price he paid for his independence, and his indifference to changing fashions and musical schools. A lavish orchestrator, Koechlin nevertheless forged an original language, at times using polytonality and atonality as well as the juxtaposition of complex rhythmical layers. He left behind over two hundred works, trying his hand at every genre except opera. He wrote both “pure music”, and programme music. Particularly noteworthy in this category is the collection of piano pieces Les Heures persanes after Loti, the symphonic poems En mer, la nuit after Heine, Le Buisson ardent after Romain Rolland, and most importantly Le Livre de la jungle after Kipling’s Jungle Book. Begun in 1899 and completed in 1940, this huge cycle is regarded as the crowning achievement of his symphonic output.

    Images - 5
  • Charles Koechlin
  • Ce qu'ils furent au Conservatoire
  • La classe de Massenet
  • Une lecture à la Société musicale indépendante
  • Une lecture à la Société musicale indépendante
  • Works - 10
  • Bandar-log, Les op. 176 (Charles Koechlin)
  • Buisson ardent, Le op. 171 et 203 (Charles Koechlin)
  • Chansons bretonnes for cello and piano op. 115 (Charles Koechlin)
  • Course de printemps, La op. 95 (Charles Koechlin)
  • Heures persanes op. 65, Les (Charles Koechlin)
  • Khamma (Claude Debussy)
  • Display more
    Press articles -  2
  • La Chronique des arts et de la curiosité, 9 décembre 1911 [Déjanire de Saint-Saëns]
  • La Chronique des arts et de la curiosité, 27 avril 1912 [Roma de Massenet]
  • Documents - 4
  • Cahier de composition de Mel Bonis. Leçons de Charles Koechlin (1908-1909)
  • Lettres à Mel Bonis : Charles Koechlin (5 lettres, sd)
  • Lettres à propos de Mel Bonis : courrier reçu par ses enfants (1937-1967)
  • Liber amicorum de Jules et Marguerite Griset