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Albert Roussel

April 5, 1869 - August 23, 1937
born in Tourcoing, Departement du Nord, France, composed during the Modern period
Though less well known than his contemporaries Ravel and Debussy, Albert Roussel is nevertheless regarded as one of the most important figures in early twentieth century French music. Roussel's music reflects his efforts to explore new possibilities of expression while remaining faithful to traditional musical ideas; evident in his chamber music and works for the stage, this tension between traditionalism and experimentation is particularly successful in his symphonies.

Born into an affluent family, Roussel lost both his parents when he was very young, and was entrusted to the care of his grandfather at age seven; in 1880, the grandfather died, and a maternal aunt took over the responsibility of raising the boy. Although he was interested in music, Roussel decided to pursue a naval career; he graduated from the Ecole Navale in 1889, eventually serving in Indochina as an officer.

In 1894, however, Roussel resigned his commission, devoting himself completely to music. He went to Paris, where he studied with the composer and organist Eugene Gigout. Four years later, he began studies with Vincent d'Indy at the newly-founded Schola Cantorum. In 1902, although he had not yet completed his studies, Roussel became professor of counterpoint at the Schola Cantorum.

Having already composed several significant works (including his Piano Trio and the First Symphony), Roussel married Blanche Preisach in 1908; the following year, the two traveled to India, where he was exposed to the medieval Hindu legend of Queen Padmavati, who sacrificed her life for love. Fascinated by this story, Roussel decided to set it to music (his opera, Padmåvatî, 1923).

At the outbreak of World War I in 1914 Roussel applied for active duty, eventually obtaining an artillery commission; after the war, having retired to Perros-Guirec on the coast of Brittany, he focused on unfinished projects, which included the opera-ballet Padmåvatî. This work, which incorporates elements of traditional Indian music, marked a new period for Roussel, whose earlier compositions showed influences of Impressionism.

During the 1920s, Roussel struggled to balance an increasing structural complexity with emotional expressiveness in his works. His Second Symphony, completed in 1921, exemplifies this tension; in Roussel's subsequent works, the listener can also detect elements of neo-Classicism.

In 1922, Roussel settled in Vasterival, in the coast of Normandy. Despite increasingly frail health, he devoted much of his energy to composing; he completed the Piano Concerto in 1927. His increasing public esteem is evidenced by a festival entirely devoted to his works in Paris (1927) as well as a commission from the Boston Symphony Orchestra for that organization's 50th anniversary (Third Symphony, 1930); Roussel traveled to the United States for the performance.

Works composed toward the end of Roussel's life, such as the String Quartet (1931-1932), the Fourth Symphony (1934), and the String Trio (1937), show his melodic idiom to be enriched by elements of chromaticism and polytonality. In these compositions, Roussel managed a successful synthesis of these new elements with the transparency of his earlier style. ~ Zoran Minderovic, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Albert Roussel: Chamber Music with Flute

Title: Trio For Flute, Viola & Cello, Op. 40

1. Trio For Flute, Viola & Cello, Op. 40: Allegro Grazioso

2. Trio For Flute, Viola & Cello, Op. 40: Andante

3. Trio For Flute, Viola & Cello, Op. 40: Allegro Non Troppo

Title: Joueurs De Flûte, For Flute & Piano, Op. 27

4. Joueurs De Flûte, For Flute & Piano, Op. 27: Pan

5. Joueurs De Flûte, For Flute & Piano, Op. 27: Tityre

6. Joueurs De Flûte, For Flute & Piano, Op. 27: Krishna

7. Joueurs De Flûte, For Flute & Piano, Op. 27: Mr. De La Pejaudie

Title: Divertissement For Piano & Wind Quintet, Op. 6

8. Divertissement For Piano & Wind Quintet, Op. 6: Divertissement, Op. 6 (1906) Fro Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, French Horn, Bassoon & Piano

Title: Andante And Scherzo, For Flute & Piano, Op. 51

9. Andante And Scherzo, For Flute & Piano, Op. 51: Andante Et Scherzo, Op. 51 (1934) For Flute & Piano

Title: Poèmes (2) Of Ronsard, For Voice & Flute, Op. 26

10. Poèmes (2) Of Ronsard, For Voice & Flute, Op. 26: I. Rossignol, Mon Mignon

11. Poèmes (2) Of Ronsard, For Voice & Flute, Op. 26: II. Ciel, Aer, Et Vens

Title: Sérénade For Flute, Violin, Viola, Cello, & Harp, Op. 30

12. Sérénade For Flute, Violin, Viola, Cello, & Harp, Op. 30: Allegro

13. Sérénade For Flute, Violin, Viola, Cello, & Harp, Op. 30: Andante

14. Sérénade For Flute, Violin, Viola, Cello, & Harp, Op. 30: Presto

x

Track List: Roussel: Bacchus Et Ariane; Le Festin De L'Araignee

Title: Bacchus Et Ariane, Ballet, Op. 43

1. Bacchus Et Ariane, Ballet, Op. 43: Act I: Introduction

2. Bacchus Et Ariane, Ballet, Op. 43: Act I: Youths And Maidens At Play

3. Bacchus Et Ariane, Ballet, Op. 43: Act I: Labyrinthine Dance

4. Bacchus Et Ariane, Ballet, Op. 43: Act I: Bacchus Appears Disguised. The Dance Is Interrupted

5. Bacchus Et Ariane, Ballet, Op. 43: Act I: Bacchus Envelops Araine In His Balck Cloak. Ariadne Faints

6. Bacchus Et Ariane, Ballet, Op. 43: Act I: Theseus And His Companions Rush At Bacchus. He Reveals Himself To Them And With An Imperious Gesture Shows Them The Way To The Sea

7. Bacchus Et Ariane, Ballet, Op. 43: Act I: The Clouds Gather In The Sky

8. Bacchus Et Ariane, Ballet, Op. 43: Act I: The Sun Reappears

9. Bacchus Et Ariane, Ballet, Op. 43: Act I: Danse De Bacchus

10. Bacchus Et Ariane, Ballet, Op. 43: Act I: Ariadne, Still Asleep, Dances With Bacchus

11. Bacchus Et Ariane, Ballet, Op. 43: Act I: Bacchus Lays Ariadne On The Rock

12. Bacchus Et Ariane, Ballet, Op. 43: Act II: Ariadne Sleeps

13. Bacchus Et Ariane, Ballet, Op. 43: Act II: Ariadne Awakes. She Looks About Her And Believing She Has Been Abandoned, Tries To Through Herself Into The Waves

14. Bacchus Et Ariane, Ballet, Op. 43: Act II: She Falls Into The Arms Of Bacchus. They Relive Their Dream Dance, Ariadne Now Awake

15. Bacchus Et Ariane, Ballet, Op. 43: Act II: Bacchus Dances Alone

16. Bacchus Et Ariane, Ballet, Op. 43: Act II: The Kiss

17. Bacchus Et Ariane, Ballet, Op. 43: Act II: The Dionysian Spell

18. Bacchus Et Ariane, Ballet, Op. 43: Act II: The Worshippers Of Bacchus Process

19. Bacchus Et Ariane, Ballet, Op. 43: Act II: Danse D'ariane

20. Bacchus Et Ariane, Ballet, Op. 43: Act II: Danse D'ariane Et De Bacchus

21. Bacchus Et Ariane, Ballet, Op. 43: Act II: Bacchanale

22. Bacchus Et Ariane, Ballet, Op. 43: Act II: The Coronation Of Ariadne

Title: Le Festin De L'araignée, Ballet, Op. 17

23. Le Festin De L'araignée, Ballet, Op. 17: Prelude

24. Le Festin De L'araignée, Ballet, Op. 17: A Garden. The Spider Sits In Her Web. She Surveys Her Surroundings

25. Le Festin De L'araignée, Ballet, Op. 17: Entrance Of The Ants. They Find A Rose Petal

26. Le Festin De L'araignée, Ballet, Op. 17: With Great Effort They Lift The Petal And Carry It Away

27. Le Festin De L'araignée, Ballet, Op. 17: The Spider Daydreams And Watches The Garden

28. Le Festin De L'araignée, Ballet, Op. 17: The Spider Mends Her Web

29. Le Festin De L'araignée, Ballet, Op. 17: Entrance Of The Dung-beetles

30. Le Festin De L'araignée, Ballet, Op. 17: The Ants Return... A Butterfly Appears

31. Le Festin De L'araignée, Ballet, Op. 17: Dance Of The Butterfly

32. Le Festin De L'araignée, Ballet, Op. 17: The Spider Invites The Butterfly To Dance Close To Her Web

33. Le Festin De L'araignée, Ballet, Op. 17: The Butterfly Is Caught In The Web And Struggles. Death Of The Butterfly

34. Le Festin De L'araignée, Ballet, Op. 17: The Spider Rejoices. The Spider Frees The Butterfly From Her Web And Takes It To Her Larder

35. Le Festin De L'araignée, Ballet, Op. 17: The Spider Dances

36. Le Festin De L'araignée, Ballet, Op. 17: Suddenly Fruits Come Crashing Down

37. Le Festin De L'araignée, Ballet, Op. 17: Entrance Of The Fruit Worms

38. Le Festin De L'araignée, Ballet, Op. 17: Warlike Entrance Of The Two Praying Mantises

39. Le Festin De L'araignée, Ballet, Op. 17: The Ants Circle

40. Le Festin De L'araignée, Ballet, Op. 17: The Mantises Challenge Each Other To A Duel. The Mantises Fight.

41. Le Festin De L'araignée, Ballet, Op. 17: The Mantises Become Caught In The Web. The Spider Dances

42. Le Festin De L'araignée, Ballet, Op. 17: Hatching Of The Mayfly

43. Le Festin De L'araignée, Ballet, Op. 17: The Dance Of The Mayfly

44. Le Festin De L'araignée, Ballet, Op. 17: The Mayfly Stops, Exhausted. The Insects Pay Their Respects. He Rejects Their Advances

45. Le Festin De L'araignée, Ballet, Op. 17: The Ants Leave

46. Le Festin De L'araignée, Ballet, Op. 17: The Worms Come Out Of The Fruit

47. Le Festin De L'araignée, Ballet, Op. 17: Dance Of The Mayfly And The Fruit Worms

48. Le Festin De L'araignée, Ballet, Op. 17: Death Of The Mayfly

49. Le Festin De L'araignée, Ballet, Op. 17: The Spider Prepares To Begin Her Feast, But One Of The Mantises, Freed From The Web, Slips Behind The Spider And Kills Her

50. Le Festin De L'araignée, Ballet, Op. 17: Death Throes Of The Spider

51. Le Festin De L'araignée, Ballet, Op. 17: Funeral Of The Mayfly

52. Le Festin De L'araignée, Ballet, Op. 17: The Funeral Cotege Sets Off And Disappears Into The Distance. Night Falls On The Deserted Garden.

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