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Classical Composers A-Z: Gabriel Faure

Peter Wintersgill tells us something of Gabriel Faure, composer of the well-known Requiem and a great music teacher.

Born
12th May 1845, in Pamiers near Ariege.

Father
Honoro Toussaint, schoolmaster.

Mother
Marie Antoinette.

Family
Youngest of six, four brothers and one sister.

Childhood and Adolescence
Trained at Ecole Neidermeyer in Paris from age 9 to 20. Taught by Saint-Saens, who influenced his music.

Adult Life
Organist successively at Remes, St. Sulpice and the Madeline; appointed Professor of
Composition at Paris Conservatoire, Director in 1906.
Became suddenly deaf in 1903, probably sensorineural in type, i.e. nerve deafness. He
met Liszt and admired Wagner.
In spite of being an organist, he wrote no organ music. He resigned in 1920 owing to
increasing deafness.
A great teacher, he had many successful pupils, including Ravel; he was charming and gentle, cooly reticent.
He concentrated on songs and song cycles, of which he wrote many. He later moved on to piano music, mostly impromptus, barcarolles and nocturnes.
The beautiful and well-known Requiem (1887) is perhaps his main claim to fame, but he
also wrote other choral pieces, chamber works and incidental music for plays, e.g. Shylock,
Pelleas et Melisande, and the opera Penelope.
He died on 4th November, 1924, in Paris aged 79 of pneumonia.

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