Arthur Honegger
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Arthur Honegger (; 10 March 1892 – 27 November 1955) was a Swiss composer who was born in France and lived a large part of his life in Paris. A member of
Les Six "Les Six" () is a name given to a group of six composers, five of them French and one Swiss, who lived and worked in Montparnasse. The name, inspired by Mily Balakirev's ''The Five (composers), The Five'', originates in two 1920 articles by criti ...
, his best known work is probably ''
Antigone In Greek mythology, Antigone ( ; Ancient Greek: Ἀντιγόνη) is the daughter of Oedipus and either his mother Jocasta or, in another variation of the myth, Euryganeia. She is a sister of Polynices, Eteocles, and Ismene.Roman, L., & Roman ...
'', composed between 1924 and 1927 to the French
libretto A libretto (Italian for "booklet") is the text used in, or intended for, an extended musical work such as an opera, operetta, masque, oratorio, cantata or Musical theatre, musical. The term ''libretto'' is also sometimes used to refer to the t ...
by
Jean Cocteau Jean Maurice Eugène Clément Cocteau (, , ; 5 July 1889 – 11 October 1963) was a French poet, playwright, novelist, designer, filmmaker, visual artist and critic. He was one of the foremost creatives of the su ...
based on the tragedy ''
Antigone In Greek mythology, Antigone ( ; Ancient Greek: Ἀντιγόνη) is the daughter of Oedipus and either his mother Jocasta or, in another variation of the myth, Euryganeia. She is a sister of Polynices, Eteocles, and Ismene.Roman, L., & Roman ...
'' by
Sophocles Sophocles (; grc, wikt:Σοφοκλῆς, Σοφοκλῆς, , Sophoklễs; 497/6 – winter 406/5 BC)Sommerstein (2002), p. 41. is one of three classical Greece, ancient Greek tragedy, tragedians, at least one of whose plays has survived in fu ...
. It premiered on 28 December 1927 at the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie with sets designed by
Pablo Picasso Pablo Ruiz Picasso (25 October 1881 – 8 April 1973) was a Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist and Scenic design, theatre designer who spent most of his adult life in France. One of the most influential artists of the 20th ce ...
and costumes by
Coco Chanel Gabrielle Bonheur "Coco" Chanel ( , ; 19 August 1883 – 10 January 1971) was a French fashion designer and businesswoman. The founder and namesake of the Chanel brand, she was credited in the post-World War I era with popularizing a sporty, c ...
. However, his most frequently performed work is probably the orchestral work '' Pacific 231'', which was inspired by the sound of a
steam Steam is a substance containing water in the gas phase, and sometimes also an aerosol of liquid water droplets, or air. This may occur due to evaporation or due to boiling, where heat is applied until water reaches the enthalpy of vaporization. ...
locomotive A locomotive or engine is a rail transport vehicle that provides the Power (physics), motive power for a train. If a locomotive is capable of carrying a payload, it is usually rather referred to as a multiple unit, Motor coach (rail), motor ...
.


Biography

Born Oscar-Arthur Honegger (the first name was never used) to Swiss parents in
Le Havre Le Havre (, ; nrf, Lé Hâvre ) is a port city in the Seine-Maritime Departments of France, department in the Normandy (administrative region), Normandy region of northern France. It is situated on the right bank of the estuary of the Seine, ri ...
, France, he initially studied
harmony In music, harmony is the process by which individual sounds are joined together or composed into whole units or compositions. Often, the term harmony refers to simultaneously occurring Audio frequency, frequencies, pitch (music), pitches (timb ...
with Robert-Charles Martin (to whom he dedicated his first published work and violin in Le Havre. After studying for two years at the Zurich Conservatory, he enrolled in the
Paris Conservatoire The Conservatoire de Paris (), also known as the Paris Conservatory, is a college of music and dance founded in 1795. Officially known as the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris (CNSMDP), it is situated in the avenue ...
from 1911 to 1918, studying with both
Charles-Marie Widor Charles-Marie-Jean-Albert Widor (21 February 1844 – 12 March 1937) was a French organist, composer and teacher of the Romanticism, mid-Romantic era, most notable for his ten organ symphonies. His Toccata from the Symphony for Organ No. 5, fifth ...
and
Vincent d'Indy Paul Marie Théodore Vincent d'Indy (; 27 March 18512 December 1931) was a French composer and teacher. His influence as a teacher, in particular, was considerable. He was a co-founder of the Schola Cantorum de Paris and also taught at the Par ...
. He made his Paris compositional debut in 1916 and in 1918 wrote the
ballet Ballet () is a type of performance dance that originated during the Italian Renaissance in the fifteenth century and later developed into a concert dance form in France and Russia. It has since become a widespread and highly technical form of ...
''Le dit des jeux du monde'', generally considered to be his first characteristic work. In 1926 he married Andrée Vaurabourg, a pianist and fellow student at the
Paris Conservatoire The Conservatoire de Paris (), also known as the Paris Conservatory, is a college of music and dance founded in 1795. Officially known as the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris (CNSMDP), it is situated in the avenue ...
, on the condition that they live in separate apartments because he required solitude for composing. Andrée lived with her mother, and Honegger visited them for lunch every day. They lived apart for the duration of their marriage, with the exception of one year from 1935 to 1936 following Vaurabourg's injury in a car accident, and the last year of Honegger's life, when he was not well enough to live alone. They had one daughter, Pascale, born in 1932. Honegger also had a son, Jean-Claude (1926–2003), with the singer Claire Croiza. In the early 1920s, Honegger shot to fame with his "dramatic psalm" '' Le Roi David'' (
King David David (; , "beloved one") (traditional spelling), , ''Dāwūd''; grc-koi, Δαυΐδ, Dauíd; la, Davidus, David; gez , ዳዊት, ''Dawit''; xcl, Դաւիթ, ''Dawitʿ''; cu, Давíдъ, ''Davidŭ''; possibly meaning "beloved one". w ...
), which is still in the choral repertoire. Between World War I and World War II, Honegger was very prolific. He composed the music for
Abel Gance Abel Gance (; born Abel Eugène Alexandre Péréthon; 25 October 188910 November 1981) was a French film director and producer, writer and actor. A pioneer in the theory and practice of montage, he is best known for three major silent films: '' ...
's epic 1927 film, '' Napoléon'', which was preceded by '' J'accuse'' (1919) and ''
La Roue ''La Roue'' (, 'The Wheel') is a French silent film, directed by Abel Gance, who also directed ''Napoléon (1927 film), Napoléon'' and ''J'accuse (1919 film), J'accuse''. It was released in 1923. The film used then-revolutionary lighting techn ...
'' ("The Wheel") (1923). He composed nine ballets and three vocal stage works, amongst other works. One of those stage works, '' Jeanne d'Arc au bûcher'' (1935), a "dramatic
oratorio An oratorio () is a large musical composition for orchestra, choir, and solo (music), soloists. Like most operas, an oratorio includes the use of a choir, soloists, an instrumental ensemble, various distinguishable Fictional character, characters ...
" (to words by Paul Claudel), is thought of as one of his finest works. In addition to his pieces written alone, he collaborated with
Jacques Ibert Jacques François Antoine Marie Ibert (15 August 1890 – 5 February 1962) was a French composer of 20th-century classical music, classical music. Having studied music from an early age, he studied at the Conservatoire de Paris, Paris Conservatoir ...
on both an opera, ''
L'Aiglon ''L'Aiglon'' is a play in six acts by Edmond Rostand based on the life of Napoleon II, who was the son of Emperor Napoleon, Napoleon I and his second wife, Empress Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma, Marie Louise. The title of the play comes from a ...
'' (1937), and an
operetta Operetta is a form of theatre and a genre of light opera. It includes spoken dialogue, songs, and dances. It is lighter than opera in terms of its music, orchestral size, length of the work, and at face value, subject matter. Apart from its ...
. During this time period, he also wrote '' Danse de la chèvre'' (1921), which has become a staple in the flute repertoire. Dedicated to René Le Roy and written for solo flute, this piece is lively and charming but with the same directness of all Honegger's work. Honegger always remained in touch with Switzerland, his parent's country of origin, until the outbreak of the war and the invasion of the
Nazis Nazism ( ; german: Nazismus), the common name in English for National Socialism (german: Nationalsozialismus, ), is the far-right politics, far-right Totalitarianism, totalitarian political ideology and practices associated with Adolf Hit ...
made it impossible for him to leave Paris. He joined the
French Resistance The French Resistance (french: La Résistance) was a collection of organisations that fought the German occupation of France during World War II, Nazi occupation of France and the Collaborationism, collaborationist Vichy France, Vichy régim ...
and was generally unaffected by the Nazis themselves, who allowed him to continue his work without too much interference. He also taught composition at the École Normale de Musique de Paris, where his students included Yves Ramette. However, he was greatly depressed by the war. Between its outbreak and his death, he wrote his last four symphonies (numbers two to five), which are among the most powerful symphonic works of the 20th century. Of these, the second, for strings, featuring a solo trumpet that plays a chorale tune in the style of
Bach Johann Sebastian Bach (28 July 1750) was a German composer and musician of the late baroque music, Baroque period. He is known for his orchestral music such as the ''Brandenburg Concertos''; instrumental compositions such as the Cello Suite ...
in the final movement, and the third, subtitled '' Symphonie Liturgique'' with three movements that evoke the
Requiem Mass A Requiem or Requiem Mass, also known as Mass for the dead ( la, Missa pro defunctis) or Mass of the dead ( la, Missa defunctorum), is a Mass (liturgy), Mass of the Catholic Church offered for the repose of the Soul (spirit), soul or souls of ...
( Dies irae, De profundis clamavi and Dona nobis pacem), is probably the best known. Written in 1946, just after the end of the war, it has parallels with
Benjamin Britten Edward Benjamin Britten, Baron Britten (22 November 1913 – 4 December 1976, aged 63) was an English composer, conductor, and pianist. He was a central figure of 20th-century British music, with a range of works including opera, other ...
's '' Sinfonia da Requiem'' of 1940. In contrast with this work is the lyrical, nostalgic Symphony No. 4, subtitled "Deliciae Basilienses" ("The Delights of Basel"), written as a tribute to days of relaxation spent in that Swiss city during the war. Honegger was widely known as a train enthusiast and once notably said: "I have always loved locomotives passionately. For me they are living creatures and I love them as others love women or horses." His "mouvement symphonique" '' Pacific 231'' (a depiction of a steam locomotive) gained him early notoriety in 1923. Many of Honegger's works were championed by his longtime friend Georges Tzipine, who conducted the premiere recordings of some of them (''Cris du Monde'' oratorio, ''Nicolas de Flüe''). In 1953 he wrote his last composition, '' A Christmas Cantata''. After a protracted illness, he died at home in Paris of a heart attack on 27 November 1955 and was interred in the Saint-Vincent Cemetery in the
Montmartre Montmartre ( , ) is a large hill in Paris's northern 18th arrondissement of Paris, 18th arrondissement. It is high and gives its name to the surrounding district, part of the Rive Droite, Right Bank. The historic district established by the C ...
Quarter. He was given a state funeral by the French government, although he remained a Swiss national and never took French citizenship. The principal elements of Honegger's style are Bachian counterpoint, driving rhythms, melodic amplitude, highly coloristic harmonies, an impressionistic use of orchestral sonorities, and a concern for formal architecture. His style is weightier and more solemn than that of his colleagues in
Les Six "Les Six" () is a name given to a group of six composers, five of them French and one Swiss, who lived and worked in Montparnasse. The name, inspired by Mily Balakirev's ''The Five (composers), The Five'', originates in two 1920 articles by criti ...
. Far from reacting against German romanticism as the other members of Les Six did, Honegger's mature works show evidence of a distinct influence by it. Despite the differences in their styles, he and fellow Les Six member
Darius Milhaud Darius Milhaud (; 4 September 1892 – 22 June 1974) was a French composer, conductor, and teacher. He was a member of Les Six—also known as ''The Group of Six''—and one of the most prolific composers of the 20th century. His compositions ...
were close friends, having studied together at the
Paris Conservatoire The Conservatoire de Paris (), also known as the Paris Conservatory, is a college of music and dance founded in 1795. Officially known as the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris (CNSMDP), it is situated in the avenue ...
. Milhaud dedicated his fourth string quintet to Honegger's memory, while Francis Poulenc similarly dedicated his Clarinet Sonata.


Legacy

Honegger was pictured on the Swiss twenty franc banknote (eighth series), issued October 1996 and replaced in 2017. Honegger's symphonic movement ''Rugby'' was recorded with him conducting the Paris Symphony Orchestra in a 1929 electrical recording, which can be heard on YouTube. Many of Honegger's recordings as conductor of his music have been reissued on CD by Pearl and Dutton. The ice hockey player Doug Honegger is his grandnephew.


Notable compositions

Opus number In musicology, the opus number is the "work number" that is assigned to a musical composition, or to a set of compositions, to indicate the chronological order of the composer's production. Opus numbers are used to distinguish among compositions ...
s originate from the complete catalogue by
Harry Halbreich Harry Halbreich (Berlin, 9 February 1931 – Brussels, 27 June 2016) was a Belgian musicologist.Dust jacket biography of Harry Halbreich from #Halbreich2007, Halbreich (2007).Patrick Szersnovicz. Harry Halbreich (obituary). ''Diapason (magazine), ...
. For a longer list of compositions, see List of compositions by Arthur Honegger. For a list of select recordings, see Arthur Honegger discography. * Orchestral Music : : Symphonies : ::1930 : H 75 First Symphony ::1941 : H 153 Second Symphony for strings and trumpet in D ::1946 : H 186 Third Symphony (''Symphonie Liturgique'') ::1946 : H 191 Fourth Symphony in A (''Deliciae basiliensis'') ::1950 : H 202 Fifth Symphony in D (''Di tre re'') :Symphonic Movements : ::1923 : H 53 '' Pacific 231'' (Symphonic Movement No. 1) ::1928 : H 67 ''Rugby'' (Symphonic Movement No. 2) ::1933 : H 83 Symphonic Movement No. 3 : Concerti : ::1924 : H 55 Concertino for piano and orchestra in E major ::1929 : H 72 Concerto for cello and orchestra in C major ::1948 : H 196 Concerto da camera, for flute, English horn and strings :Others : ::1917 : H 16 ''Le chant de Nigamon'' ::1920 : H 31 '' Pastorale d'été'' ::1923 : H 47 ''Chant de joie'' (Song of Joy) ::1951 : H 204 ''Monopartita'' *
Oratorio An oratorio () is a large musical composition for orchestra, choir, and solo (music), soloists. Like most operas, an oratorio includes the use of a choir, soloists, an instrumental ensemble, various distinguishable Fictional character, characters ...
s : :1921 : H 37 '' Le roi David'' (King David) libretto by René Morax, version for orchestra in 1923 :1935 : H 99 '' Jeanne d'Arc au bûcher'', libretto by Paul Claudel, version with prologue in 1941 :1938 : H 131 ''La danse des morts'', (The Dance of the Dead) libretto by Paul Claudel :1953 : H 212 '' Une cantate de Noël'' (A Christmas Cantata) * Operas : :1903 : ''Philippa'', not orchestrated, performed, or published :1904 : ''Sigismond'', lost :1907 : ''La Esmeralda'', after
Victor Hugo Victor-Marie Hugo (; 26 February 1802 – 22 May 1885) was a French Romanticism, Romantic writer and politician. During a literary career that spanned more than sixty years, he wrote in a variety of genres and forms. He is considered to be one ...
's ''
Notre-Dame de Paris Notre-Dame de Paris (; meaning "Our Lady of Paris"), referred to simply as Notre-Dame, is a Middle Ages#Art and architecture, medieval Catholic cathedral on the Île de la Cité (an island in the Seine River), in the 4th arrondissement of Paris ...
'', unfinished and unpublished :1918 : ''La mort de sainte Alméenne'', libretto by M. Jacob, unpublished and only Interlude orchestrated :1925 : '' Judith'', libretto by René Morax, premiered at the Opéra de Monte-Carlo on 13 February 1925 :1927 : H 65 ''
Antigone In Greek mythology, Antigone ( ; Ancient Greek: Ἀντιγόνη) is the daughter of Oedipus and either his mother Jocasta or, in another variation of the myth, Euryganeia. She is a sister of Polynices, Eteocles, and Ismene.Roman, L., & Roman ...
'', libretto by
Jean Cocteau Jean Maurice Eugène Clément Cocteau (, , ; 5 July 1889 – 11 October 1963) was a French poet, playwright, novelist, designer, filmmaker, visual artist and critic. He was one of the foremost creatives of the su ...
based on
Sophocles Sophocles (; grc, wikt:Σοφοκλῆς, Σοφοκλῆς, , Sophoklễs; 497/6 – winter 406/5 BC)Sommerstein (2002), p. 41. is one of three classical Greece, ancient Greek tragedy, tragedians, at least one of whose plays has survived in fu ...
, premiered at
La Monnaie The Royal Theatre of La Monnaie (french: Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie, italic=no, ; nl, Koninklijke Muntschouwburg, italic=no; both translating as the "Royal Theatre of the Mint") is an opera house in central Brussels Brussels (french ...
on 28 December 1927 *
Operetta Operetta is a form of theatre and a genre of light opera. It includes spoken dialogue, songs, and dances. It is lighter than opera in terms of its music, orchestral size, length of the work, and at face value, subject matter. Apart from its ...
s : :1925 : H 108 ''
L'Aiglon ''L'Aiglon'' is a play in six acts by Edmond Rostand based on the life of Napoleon II, who was the son of Emperor Napoleon, Napoleon I and his second wife, Empress Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma, Marie Louise. The title of the play comes from a ...
'', co-written with
Jacques Ibert Jacques François Antoine Marie Ibert (15 August 1890 – 5 February 1962) was a French composer of 20th-century classical music, classical music. Having studied music from an early age, he studied at the Conservatoire de Paris, Paris Conservatoir ...
; libretto for acts 2–4 by H. Cain, after E. Rostand, libretto for acts 1 and 5 by Ibert, Opéra de Monte-Carlo, 10 March 1937 :1930 : '' Les aventures du roi Pausole'', libretto by A. Willemetz, after P. Louÿs, premiered 12 December 1930, Paris, Bouffes-Parisiens :1931 : '' La belle de Moudon'', libretto by René Morax, Mézières, Jorat, Switzerland, 30 May 1931, unpublished :1937 : ''Les petites cardinal'', libretto by Willemetz and P. Brach, after L. Halévy, Paris, Bouffes-Parisiens, 13 February 1938 * Ballets : :1918 : H 19 ''Le dit des jeux du monde'' :1921 : H 38 ''Horace victorieux'', symphonie mimée *
Chamber music Chamber music is a form of classical music that is composed for a small group of Musical instrument, instruments—traditionally a group that could fit in a Great chamber, palace chamber or a large room. Most broadly, it includes any art music ...
: :1917 : H 15 String Quartet No. 1 in C minor :1929: H 28 Sonata for Viola and Piano :1935 : H 103 String Quartet No. 2 in D :1937 : H 114 String Quartet No. 3 in E :1945 : H 181 ''Paduana'' for cello solo :1947 : H 193 ''Intrada'' for C trumpet and piano * Piano Solo Works 1910 : Three Pieces (Scherzo, Humoresque, Adagio) :1916 : Toccata and Variation :1915–9 : Three Pieces (Prelude, Homage to Ravel, Danse) :1919–20 : Seven Short Pieces :1920 : Sarabande (for Album de Six) :1923–4 : Le Cahier Romand :1928–9 Hommage to Albert Roussel :1932 : Prelude, Arioso and Fughetta on the name BACH :1941 : Petits Airs sue une basse celebre :1943–4 : Two Sketches


References


Further reading

*Honegger's biographer was Marcel Landowski, the French composer and arts administrator, who was greatly influenced by Honegger. His biography appeared in 1978 () although it has yet to be translated into English. *Harry Halbreich. ''Arthur Honegger'', translated into English by Roger Nichols. Portland, Oregon: Amadeus Press, 1992. Considers both Honegger's life and works. With the cooperation of Honegger's daughter Pascale, Halbreich has fully documented Honegger's life since childhood. All works are treated, more significant ones analyzed in detail. (1999). *Geoffrey Spratt. ''The Music of Arthur Honegger''. Cork University Press, 1987. Spratt also wrote the entry in Grove Music Online (2001). *Willy Tappet. ''Arthur Honegger''. Zurich: Atlantis Verlag, 1954.


External links

* *
Site Arthur Honegger
– The official site on the composer; bilingual (French and English)


Holocaust Music
– discusses the controversy of Honegger's role in the Resistance
Cello Concerto Review

Drama lírico Bíblico, Judith
(audio online y descarga).

– biography of the composer * František Slámabr>Archive
More on the history of the Czech Philharmonic between the 1940s and the 1980s: ''Conductors'' {{DEFAULTSORT:Honegger, Arthur 1892 births 1955 deaths 20th-century classical composers French male classical composers French opera composers Swiss classical composers Ballet composers Male opera composers Neoclassical composers Oratorio composers Academics of the École Normale de Musique de Paris Conservatoire de Paris alumni Grand Officiers of the Légion d'honneur Les Six Musicians from Le Havre Pupils of Vincent d'Indy Zurich University of the Arts alumni 20th-century French male musicians 20th-century Swiss composers