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Aux étoiles

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It was in the late 1870s that Henri Duparc began composing his opera La Roussalka. Basing his work on the dramatic poem by Pushkin, the composer—along with his teacher César Franck and friend Vincent d’Indy—was keen to give French opera a new lease of life by drawing inspiration from Wagnerian theories. Only two symphonic fragments survive of this ambitious project, reworked over many years: a Danse lente completed in the mid-1890s and Aux étoiles, revised in 1910. This latter work also reuses the title (and perhaps part of the musical text) from the first movement of Duparc’s Poème nocturne, a work for orchestra which is now lost, first performed in 1874 at the Société Nationale de Musique. Struck down with blindness at the end of his life, the composer found it very hard to rework this “nocturne”. In March 1910, he wrote to his pupil, Jean Cras: “I cannot give you an idea of the truly grievous difficulty I am having with these twelve pages of orchestral writing: when I compose the harmony, I cannot see the quartet, and vice versa,  and my – very poor - memory is no use to me: every time I re-read pages that I thought were finished once and for all, I find mistakes, and I spend my time scratching out, erasing and beginning again…” Premiered in Montreux, the work was an immediate success, however, and soon made the rounds of the French concert halls. It was published in  1912 in a reduction for piano four hands.



publication date : 25/09/23

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