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On This Day… October 1

The composer we look at today was very specific in his desires, throwing out many compositions which has reduced the amount of works that we can attribute to him. However, those that do survive we can be assured that they are the best quality. Today, we look at French composer, Paul Dukas.

Born on this day in 1865 into a French-Jewish family, Paul Dukas studied at the Paris Conservatoire. Upon completion, Dukas found work as a music critic and orchestrator. He was regarded as one of the most sensetive and insightful critics of his era, and was also unusually talented in the field of orchestration.

Being a perfectionist, he destroyed many of his works out of dissatisfaction. The first work of note is his Symphony in C (1896), which follows in the traditions of Beethoven and Cesar Frank. This was followed by another orchestral work, which would go on to become his most famous, L’apprenti sorcier, or The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

Dukas also wrote a few works for piano, an opera and a ballet. In his later life, Dukas took up teaching composition to students such as Joaquin Rodrigo, and Olivier Messiaen, amongst others.

Below is a performance of Dukas’ Villanelle for Horn and Orchestra. This is a lovely piece is soaring melodies, and also demonstrates Dukas’ command of orchestration.

And of course, it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t include The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. This is a clip from the Original Fantasia.

Hope you enjoyed them both! I’d love to hear what you thought of the Villanelle, or of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, or even of Fantasia. Let me know in the comments, or write a blog linking back here and I’ll include a link below.

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