Today's Memory

Today’s Memory – Albert Roussel

5 - Albert Roussel 1869 1937

Albert RousselAlbert Roussel

5 April 1869, Tourcoing (Nord) – 23 August 1937, Royan (Charente-Maritime)

Albert Charles Paul Marie Roussel was a French composer, considered one of the most prominent French composers of the interwar period. His early works were strongly influenced by the impressionism of Debussy and Ravel, while he later turned toward neoclassicism.

Roussel’s earliest interest was not in music but mathematics. He spent time in the French Navy, and in 1889 and 1890, he served on the crew of the frigate Iphigénie and spent several years in Cochin, China. These travels affected him artistically, as many of his musical works would reflect his interest in far-off, exotic places. During World War I, he served as an ambulance driver on the Western Front. Following the war, he bought a summer house in Normandy and devoted most of his time there to composition.

By temperament Roussel was predominantly a classicist. While his early work was strongly influenced by impressionism in music, he eventually arrived at a personal style which was more formal in design, with a strong rhythmic drive, and with a more distinct affinity for functional tonality.

Roussel’s most important works were the ballets Le festin de l’araignée, Bacchus et Ariane, and Aeneas and the four symphonies. His other works include numerous ballets, orchestral suites, a piano concerto, a concertino for cello and orchestra, a psalm setting for chorus and orchestra, incidental music for the theatre, and much chamber music, solo piano music, and songs.

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Bacchus and Ariane Brussels Philharmonic, Conductor: Stéphane Denève


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