Paul Dukas (1865-1935)

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0120110228

Donald Macleod on Dukas's development up to the point he wrote The Sorcerer's Apprentice.

When Walt Disney matched up Paul Dukas' symphonic poem "The Sorcerer's Apprenctice" with Mickey Mouse in the classic film animation "Fantasia", he brought Dukas a fame the French composer had never experienced in his lifetime.

It's perhaps rather unfair that his reputation rests virtually on just one piece, although it becomes more understandable when one considers that he was a composer who was forever discarding his efforts, revising and reducing to such an extent, fewer than twenty works remain. Nonetheless during his lifetime Dukas was an influential voice in musical circles, comfortably sharing his time between roles as a musicologist, music critic and teacher. The roll-call of his students is impressive, including Jehan Alain, Maurice Duruflé, Jean Langlais and Olivier Messaien. As a Parisian born and bred, whose career coincided with la belle époque in French culture, he knew, personally, all the significant figures in France's musical life at this time, Fauré, d'Indy, Chausson, Chabrier and Debussy, whom he first met as a student at the Paris Conservatoire, were among the composers, but he also knew all the important musicians and literary and artistic figures too. They all seem to have appreciated his intelligence during this period of dramatic aesthetic change. Through his musical criticism he promoted the composers he admired, Rameau, Gluck Wagner and his friend Debussy. Both Debussy and Fauré appreciated his incisive writing, which Fauré described as being "remarkable, instructive and zesty"!

The week begins with a look at Dukas' development up to the point he wrote The Sorcerer's Apprentice, including the work that first brought Dukas to public attention, Polyeucte, and an early Overture, Le roi Lear, a student work which Dukas never heard performed in his lifetime.

When Walt Disney matched up Paul Dukas' symphonic poem "The Sorcerer's Apprenctice" with Mickey Mouse in the classic film animation "Fantasia", he brought Dukas a fame the French composer had never experienced in his lifetime.

It's perhaps rather unfair that his reputation rests virtually on just one piece, although it becomes more understandable when one considers that he was a composer who was forever discarding his efforts, revising and reducing to such an extent, fewer than twenty works remain.

Nonetheless during his lifetime Dukas was an influential voice in musical circles, comfortably sharing his time between roles as a musicologist, music critic and teacher.

The roll-call of his students is impressive, including Jehan Alain, Maurice Durufl, Jean Langlais and Olivier Messaien.

As a Parisian born and bred, whose career coincided with la belle poque in French culture, he knew, personally, all the significant figures in France's musical life at this time, Faur, d'Indy, Chausson, Chabrier and Debussy, whom he first met as a student at the Paris Conservatoire, were among the composers, but he also knew all the important musicians and literary and artistic figures too.

They all seem to have appreciated his intelligence during this period of dramatic aesthetic change.

Through his musical criticism he promoted the composers he admired, Rameau, Gluck Wagner and his friend Debussy.

Both Debussy and Faur appreciated his incisive writing, which Faur described as being "remarkable, instructive and zesty"!

0220110301

Donald Macleod on the circumstances surrounding the creation of Dukas's only symphony.

As a young man Paul Dukas belonged to a rising generation of French composers who were keen to write instrumental music. He was following in the footsteps of Liszt and Berlioz, and more recently César Franck, whom he admired greatly, Saint-Saëns and Vincent d'Indy, who was an admirer of Dukas's music. He began by writing several symphonic poems, but in 1896 produced his one and only contribution to symphonic form.

0420110303

Donald Macleod assesses Paul Dukas' opera Ariane et Barbe-bleu.

With Donald Macleod

Paul Dukas' scholarship and work as a music critic may well have encouraged him to compose the Variations, Interlude and Finale on a theme by Rameau.

But the diversity of Dukas' activities also probably contributed to the long gestation period for his only opera, Ariane et Barbe-bleue, hailed by Vincent d'Indy as the most important piece of theatrical music since Wagner's music-dramas!.

05 LAST20110304

Donald Macleod focuses on Dukas's later years, and works including La peri.

Despite the success of his poème dans La Pri in 1912, Dukas, who lived for a further twenty-three years, failed to produce any further large scale works.

In this final episode Donald Macleod considers why Dukas turned to other activities as a pedagogue and a music critic.