Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The son of François Magnard, bestselling author and editor of Le Figaro, Albéric could've chosen to live the comfortable life his family's wealth afforded him. But he disliked being called "fils du Figaro", and decided to have a career in music based entirely on his talent and without any help from family connections. After military service and graduating from law school, he entered the Paris Conservatoire, where he studied counterpoint with Théodore Dubois and went to the classes of Jules Massenet. There he met Vincent d'Indy, with whom he studied fugue and orchestration for four years, writing his first two Symphonies under d'Indy's tutelage. Magnard dedicated his Symphony No. 1 in C minor to d'Indy.
François Magnard did what he could to support Albéric's career while trying to respect his son's wish to make it on his own. This included publicity in Le Figaro. With the death of his father in 1894, Albéric Magnard's grief was complicated by his simultaneous gratitude and annoyance for his father.
In 1896, Magnard married Julie Creton, became a counterpoint tutor at the Schola Cantorum (recently founded by d'Indy) and wrote his Symphony No. 3 in C-sharp minor. Around this time, Magnard started suffering loss of hearing.
Magnard published many of his own compositions at his own expense, from Opus 8 to Opus 20.
At the beginning of World War I, Magnard sent his wife and two daughters to a safe hiding place while he stayed behind to guard the estate of Manoir de Fontaines at Baron. When German soldiers trespassed, he fired at them, killing one of them, and they fired back and set the house on fire. It is believed that Magnard died in the fire, but his body could not be identified in the remains. The fire destroyed Magnard's unpublished scores, such as his early opera Yolande, two acts of Guercœur, as well as a more recent song cycle.
Joseph Guy Ropartz , who had mounted a production of Guercœur in 1908, reconstructed from memory the acts that had been lost in the fire and mounted a new production in 1931.
Magnard's musical style is typical of French composers contemporaneous to him, but occasionally, as in the Symphonies, there are passages that foreshadow the music of Gustav Mahler. His occasional use of chorale earned him the nickname of "French Bruckner". Although Bruckner used cyclical forms long before d'Indy "trademarked" the concept to César Franck's name, Magnard's handling of cyclical form is more Franckian than Brucknerian. In his operas, Magnard used Richard Wagner's leitmotif technique. Magnard did not write much chamber music, but his complete œuvre is not that large, the published pieces numbering at slightly more than 20. The chamber works include a string quartet, a quintet for piano and winds, a piano trio, a violin sonata (in G, opus 13) and a cello sonata (in A, opus 20).
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