Emil Franzi – TSO notes: Fauré – Masque et Bergemasque premiere – April 18, 1919 – Monte Carlo

By Emil Franzi / SoAzNewsX

The gentle delicacy of Fauré’s large and consistent output can be deceiving. He fought as a volunteer in the Franco-Prussian War, winning the Croix de Guerre for gallantry. His low key and haunting Requiem from 1888 was a response to Verdi and Berlioz whom he considered too bombastic. Worth noting that Fauré got shot at, they didn’t.

Fauré’s orchestral output was sparse, and some works were orchestrated by others. It consists mostly of chamber and choral music, songs, song cycles, and solo piano works. There’d be more if he hadn’t been a teacher and administrator, including the Directorship of the Paris Conservatory. His greatest mentor was Saint-Saens who encouraged the commission of this work.

Fauré discarded an 1869 attempt at a symphony in d, but salvaged portions of it much later in the incidental music commissioned by Albert I, Prince of Monaco, for music to accompany a one act divertissement from Rene Fauchois, inspired by Paul Verlaine, about amorous aristocrats. A bergamask is a rustic dance.

The full production is in eight movements, only one of which is original. The 8th is the now well known Pavane, Op.50, from 1889. The first three of the four movements of the suite are from the cancelled symphony. Only the fourth – Pastorale – is new. That Fauré was able to easily adapt music written 50 years before tells us how early his musical outlook developed

The suite is one of Fauré’s most popular works. He reportedly said that “it is like the impression you get from a painting by Watteau.”


Emil Franzi is the Editor-in-Chief/Publisher of the Southern Arizona News-Examiner and an aficionado of classical music.



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