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From Daphné to Frédégonde: all roads do not lead to Rome...

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Max d’Ollone (b. June 1875) must have felt relief when he left Paris for the Villa Medici in the winter of 1897-1898, having at last, at his fourth attempt, won the coveted Prix de Rome – the key academic award for French musicians. Lacking self-confidence, resigned to having received only a second prize in 1895, he had even considered giving up. It had taken all the powers of persuasion his teacher Jules Massenet could muster to get him to try again in 1897. Through no fault of his own, the young candidate had been caught up in a controversy that had affected the objectivity of the assessment of his music and its merits had not been fairly taken into account. In order to understand what happened in the Prix de Rome competitions of 1894-1897, and explain why Max d’Ollone received or did not receive a prize, we need to piece together the events of those years and take a fresh and impartial look at his cantatas, for indeed Clarisse Harlowe, Mélusine and Frédégonde are much more masterly achievements than was generally admitted at the time.

From the CD-Book Max d'Ollone. Cantates, chœurs et musique symphonique (Palazzetto Bru Zane, collection Prix de Rome, 2012). Translation: Mary Pardoe.

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Charles MOREL


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Composer, Conductor


(1875 - 1959)


publication date : 09/10/23