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Albert Roussel


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Albert Charles Paul Marie Roussel (April 5, 1869 - August 23, 1937) was a French composer.

Born in Tourcoing, France, Roussel’s earliest interest was not in music but mathematics. He spent a time in the French Navy, and in 1889 and 1890 he served on the crew of the frigate Iphigénie. These travels affected him artistically, as many of his musical works would reflect his interest in far off, exotic places.

After resigning from the Navy in 1894 he began to study music seriously with Eugène Gigout, then continuing his studies until 1908 at the Schola Cantorum (one of his teachers there was Vincent D’Indy). While studying, he was also busy teaching; his students included Satie and the young Edgard Varèse.

During World War I he served—as did Ernest Hemingway—as an ambulance driver on the Western Front. Following the war, he bought a summer house in Normandy, where he devoted most of his time to composition.

Roussel was by temperament a classicist. While his early work is strongly influenced by impressionism, he eventually found a personal style which was more formal in design, with a strong rhythmic drive, and with a more distinct liking for functional tonality than is evident in the work of his more famous contemporaries (for instance Debussy, Ravel, Satie, and Stravinsky).


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  • Asphodel12

    Hi rm508 - Where'd you find that great picture of Roussel and his cat?

    18 Feb 2013 Reply
  • KoechlinFan82

    Roussel is quite possibly one of the most underrated French composers of the 20th Century. One reason for his neglect could be the fact that he didn't really belong to one school of thought, but, rather, belonged to many schools. One of the most apparent in his early career was the Impressionism of Debussy and Ravel. These were influences, but they quickly subsided in favor of a harder edged approach to composition. Roussel developed a personal adaptation of Neoclassicism. "Symphony No. 3," "Bacchus et Ariane," and "Le festin de l'araignée" are probably his most well known compositions. I do feel, however, that he had much more to offer than these three works. An obscure work like "Evocations" only rectified his mastery to me. The other symphonies are just as wonderful as his popular "Symphony No. 3." I would even wager that "Symphony No. 2" is even finer, but we're lucky to have multiple recordings of all of Roussel's symphonies, ballets, and orchestral works.

    24 May 2012 Reply
  • elnimio

    good stuff

    13 Dec 2010 Reply
  • gearshifter

    Great composer.

    30 Aug 2009 Reply
  • 5dC

    Symphony #3 is one of the greatest piece of music I never heard.

    30 Sep 2008 Reply
  • 5dC

    Wow, Nobody Here ? ... :/

    12 Apr 2008 Reply

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