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Paul Dukas

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(1865 – 1935)

Paul Dukas (1 October 1865 – 17 May 1935) was a French composer of classical music.

Dukas was born Paul Abraham Dukas in Paris to a Jewish family and studied, under Théodore Dubois and Ernest Guiraud among others, at the Conservatoire there, where he was a friend of Claude Debussy. After completing his studies he found work as an orchestrator and critic.

Although Dukas wrote a fair amount of music, he destroyed many of his pieces out of dissatisfaction with them, and only a few remain. His first surviving work of note is the energetic Symphony (1896) which belongs to the tradition of Beethoven and César Franck. It was followed by another orchestral work, L’apprenti sorcier, better known under its English title The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (1897), which is based on Goethe’s poem “Der Zauberlehrling”. This piece was used in the Walt Disney film Fantasia, which accounts for much of its fame. Dukas’s rhythmic mastery and vivid orchestration are evident in both works.

For the piano, Dukas wrote two complex and technically demanding large-scale works, a Sonata (1901) and Variations, interlude and finale on a theme of Rameau (1902), again reminiscent of Beethoven and Franck. The opera Ariane et Barbe-bleue (“Ariadne and Bluebeard”), on which he worked from 1899 to 1907, has often been compared to Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, partly because of musical similarities and partly because both operas are based on libretti by Maurice Maeterlinck.

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  • ballseven

    Greetings from esoterism.

    6 Jan 8:40pm Reply
  • pasdeplaisant

    A one hit wonder? More like a tortured genius. What he didn't rip up in a fit of angst, is brilliant!

    20 Jul 2013 Reply
  • Biscuit1978

    Come along and join the group Orchestral Composer of the Week. Nominate your 5 favourite composers each week and see who gets into the Hall of Fame.

    11 Dec 2011 Reply
  • Roope75

    The opera Ariane et Barbe-Bleue is a forgotten masterpiece. Or perhaps not that forgotten anymore as there are a couple of recent recordings.

    21 Jun 2009 Reply
  • fabnt

    The main reason that it is impossible to find so many of Dukas' works is because he was a music critic, as well as a perfectionist. His strong critical sense made him find small dislikes in his works and as a perfectionist he destroyed them. If he didn't do this he probably would've made it as a bigger composer, but alas, most of his work is gone.

    31 Jan 2009 Reply
  • zabethgirl

    thanks to fantasia, that is.

    13 Feb 2008 Reply
  • Hieronimus

    Quite. Can't seem to find any other works by him though. :(

    18 Dec 2007 Reply
  • Hadora

    A one-hit wonder lol

    16 May 2007 Reply

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