Lucien Durosoir
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1920Cinq Aquarelles :

(violin and piano)
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Lucien Durosoir began work on his ‘Five Watercolours’ – Cinq Aquarelles – on his return to civilian life after fifty-five months (4 August 191 to 5 February 1919 ) spent on the front. He longed to forget, to discover a new self, to find a blessed release through music. Henceforth composition was to replace the career as a soloist that had been demolished by the war. The Cinq Aquarelles are five delicate paintings, fleeting evocations of the violin’s many expressive registers and possibly also allusions to composers past and present. Is the classicism of “Ronde” and ‘Intermède’ a tribute to Jean-Marie Leclair? And ‘Berceuse’a reference to Gabriel Fauré? Although Durosoir often took inspiration from poetry for his instrumental music, only the first piece ‘Bretagne’ is based on a poetic text, by José Maria de Herédia.





1920 Berceuse et Ronde
- (cello and piano)
see the score
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Berceuse-Cello et piano

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Ronde - cello et piano

Berceuse pour violoncelle et piano The composer’s transcription for cello and piano of ‘Berceuse’ (‘Lullaby’), one of his Aquarelles, is undated. This version, with the cello bringing new colours to the vast melody, marks the culmination of his profound poetry.
ronde cello piano

Berceuse cello piano

1920 PoèmeWriting in progess
1920 PoèmeWriting in progess
1920 Quartet in F minor
- (string quartet)
see the score
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Quatuor en Fa

The first string quartet, in F minor, was completed in 1920. It contains many of the stylistic elements that would define Durosoir’s originality and modernity. The first movement, Allegro moderato, opens with densely written thematic material that reappears in subsequent movement. Four motifs traverse the quartet. They are simultaneously played by the four instruments, then heard in first one voice then another, influencing a variety of sections with their chromatic sweetness in some instances, their darkly assertive rhythms (a double-dotted diatonic theme) in others. The Scherzo, marked “très vif et très léger” (very lively and very light), is written in a traditional ABA form. Its extremely refined atmosphere – tremolos create a sustained rustling sound, from which emerge short slurred motifs played with bariolage technique et pizzicato chords – results in a shimmering, eminently poetic mood. The central section (mysterioso, pianissimo) introduces a new element, an unsettled, syncopated melody played an octave apart by either two instruments or the entire quartet. This is twice interrupted by brief reminiscences of the first theme, which definitively returns to conclude the movement. The descending chromatic elementsof the Adagio (Lento, molto expressivo) lend it a sad and desolate quality. A number of ostinato motifs, played by the cello over the background, at fist appear to be a new theme. In fact they are the mirror image of the first movement’s rhythmical theme. Heard in this new way, however – drawn out and becalmed – they are scarcely recognisable. The third movement gives a unified impression as ever more complex, denser and more arhythmical sections succeed each other. The brief Allegro non troppo, written in a sharp key, provides a moment of brightness and includes short echoes of a motif heard in the Allegro. The plaintive motifs of the Lento also return, as if to confirm the movement’s profoundly gloomy mood. The finale, Allegro appassionato, is characterised by a thoroughly diatonic theme which sounds out like a command. It is joined by a motif made up of three quavers which have two forms, now appearing as repeated notes, now as a short interlocking melody. After a hundred bars this rapid and decisive theme encounters a chorale-like theme, played an octave by the violin and the cello. This naïve tune soon gives way to its own paraphrase, which is then joined by the three-quaver theme played in its interlocking form. The return of the opening section seems to be leading to a brilliant conclusion, but is interrupted by an unexpected turn of events. The chorale theme returns, followed by a brief violent reminiscence of the first movement’s rhythmical theme. After an abrupt pause, six bars played “much more broadly” conclude the final movement in a humble religious atmosphere. When the first quartet was completed, Durosoir wished to show it to André Caplet, his mentor, with whom he had read through many scores, has numerous passionate discussions about writing music, and even done a few composition exercises. He sent a copy to Caplet and received a rapid reply. Caplet, a Prix de Rome awardees, wrote in a letter simply dated “this Friday” (probably a Friday in February 1922), “ I am going to make an enthusiastic report to all my friends about your quartet, which I find thousands of times more interesting than every thing that springs from the pens of the noisy group of newcomers that now assails us”
Quatuor n°1 mt II

1921 Caprice
- (cello and harp)
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« To Maurice Maréchal, as a souvenir of Génicourt (winter1916-1917) » This dedication, written in 1921, recalls a very severe and difficult winter, yet a winter that was not completely negative for the two artists and their companions. The 129th Infantry Regiment, to which belonged, was for month stationed near Verdun, which saw the most tragic episodes of the First World War. During the previous autumn, however, a small group of musicians, who had come together to rehearse and give chamber concerts, had been taken under the wing of their superiors. Those musicians were the violinists Lucien Durosoir and Henri Lemoine, the composer André Caplet, who agreed to take the viola part, the cellist Maurice Maréchal and the pianist Henri Magne. They participated in the performances of the “theâtre aux armées”, which they inaugurated at Génicourt. When the regiment was stationary, they were given every opportunity of working on their music (though often in cold and droughty hangars); when it was on the move, their instruments and score would travel behind in the accompanying army vehicles. Maurice Maréchal, born in 1892, was one of the youngest members of the group; he had graduated from the Paris Conservatoire in 1911 and was a promising artist, but his spoilt-child attitude tended to exasperate the older Caplet and Durosoir. Nevertheless the many months they spent together, sharing music under difficult conditions and in perilous circumstances, sealed their friendship. So it is not surprising that Durosoir presented his young friend with a work for his repertoire. Caprice was first performed on 22 October 1930 by Maurice Maréchal with the harpist Micheline Kahn (private concert at the Hôtel Majestic). The work is organised around a long, lyrical theme that is presented firs at all by the cello alone. It returns six times in different keys and registers in the course of the work. In counter point to it and presented by the harp, the second theme, marked “sarcastic and light”, is soon diluted in vast scales in parallel and contrary motion. A brief middle section, Allegro vivo, proposes another combination of two instrumental discourses, before a return to the original themes and mood. Although this piece is firmly built, using clearly identifiable material, it suffers none of the constraints of the set form, and allows much scope for imagination. Sometimes lyrical, sometimes impulsive, it constantly makes great technical demands, often forcing the cello into the extreme registers, thereby creating tension and instability. The two instruments seem to vie with each other to express the many fluctuations in this unpredictable discourse, reflecting a musical mind that was constantly on the lookout for new paths to explore.

1921 Jouvence
- (nonette)
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I - Prélude, Allegro giocoso. II – Aria. III – Introduction, Marche funèbre et Final.
It is not surprising to find a violonist devoting his first compositions to his own instrument ; nevertheless, in Jouvence the violin is described as « principal » and not « solo » : this is worth noting, since the score confirms that choice. In the octet (string quartet plus flute, horn and harp) Durosoir shows a desire to mix various timbres freely in order to obtain original sonorities – a desire that was shared by a whole generation of composers, including Debussy, Caplet, Roussel and others. The principal violin often finds itself having to compete with the first violin of the string quartet, and despite the virtuosity that is expected of it, it never imposes itself with the supremacy of a soloist. The scoring of the octet is dense and concise, and the combination of the horn and the flute makes a large contribution to the poetry of the work. Lucien Durosoir was always a great reader of poetry; more than the Romantic poets, he loved the Parnassians; he also read over and over again his favourite poets, Baudelaire, Verlaine, Rimbaud, whose first editions he possessed. When he was at front, his mother would send him their works, in which he often sought consolation during the long hours of confinement, waiting, moral solitude and physical suffering of those early months spent in the trenches. The first approach to Jouvence (Youth) is through the poem by José-Maria de Hérédia (1842-1905) which serves as an epitaph. This is one of the 118 sonnets of Les Trophées (The Trophies) of 1893, and the second poem in the section entitled ”Les Conquérants”. Durosoir share the values of Parnassianism with many musicians of that time, including Chausson, Massenet, Duparc, Debussy, Fauré, Hahn, Koechlin and Roussel, all of whom set poems by Leconte de Lisle. Used as an epitaph to a musical work, the poem play a role that is not easy to identify, but cannot be insignificant. It is a symbolical evocation, a guide for inspiration, a descriptive programme? What could have motivated this choice? What, in the sonnet, can have had meaning for the composer? The answer given by the music itself is insufficient to enlighten us. It is important to explain that immediately after the war Lucien Durosoir imposed on himself complete isolation, deliberatively moving away from Parisian society, with which he felt he no longer dad anything in common. Jouvence, composed at Vincennes, dates from that period when he felt much calmer, hence reading reasserted itself and poetry resumed its legitimate place in his daily life. A reading of the score seems to confirm that this sonnet is indeed its programme, deciding on the pace of the narrative, places imagined, the heroic tone. The principal violin is undeniably the “conquistador” himself, symbolised by the solo writing full of virtuosic effects in the instrument’s very high register. The octet is sometimes with and sometimes set against the soloist; it might well – if we accept the metaphor – suggest the adventurous aspect of the heroic undertaking, the contrast between victories and defeats, swaggering hope and bitter withdrawal. The epic grandeur is expressed in the traditional orchestral gestures: stable, quite simple harmony, many effects in the bass, in the harp (vast glissandi covering three octaves), simple, emphatic thematic motifs (of the heroic march type). The sunlit atmosphere that pervades the whole of the sonnet is reflected music, in which it inspires several sequences (“Aria”, “Allegreto, dans un sentiment élégiaque”). In the course of the three movements, of unequal length, each with internal contrasts, thr music progresses through narrative moments contemplative phases and ”burst of light”, retaining from the poem the contrast between the heroic gesture and the hero’s solitude, between the aspiration to live and man’s destiny to die. So is there complete adherence to Heredia’s sonnet? Rurely not…When he reread Heredia’s Les Trophées in 1921 Lucien Durosoir had changed; he was no longer jst the lover of poetry, beautiful language and formal perfection, who was drawn Parnassianism. He had experienced, observed and shared heroism –involving total commitment, disregard of fear, great risk to one’s own life (with no delusions as to its value) – which is typical of the state of war, especially for the lowliest military caste of infantrymen. He is no longer touched by the poet’s idealisation of the hero; he is indifferent to the quest for the Fountain of Youth, the discovery of Florida. We may imagine the bemused disillusionment with which he henceforth considered the heroism of such conquerors of vast territories, vandals of native civilisations, men such as Palos de Moguer, Hernando De Soto and Juan Ponce de Leon, who are found side by side in the sonnets of “ Les Conquérants”. How do we explain the fact that, with Jouvence, the listener no longer believes in heroism. Something ironic, or even sardonic, catches his attention, suggesting that the composer has superimposed his own vision upon that of the poet: Juan Ponce de Leon, a puppet hero, the plaything of human vanities? The uneasiness does not really appear until the third movement, in which the “Marche funèbre” and “Final maestoso grandioso” are strikingly ironical. A simple analysis reveals the construction of the ridiculous funeral march: over tonal harmony showing a rather pompous style, the solo violin unfolds a vast melody using constantly dissonant double stops, the basic dissonance being the major seventh (bars 31-64). The resulting effect is just sufficiently unpleasant: a sarcastic smile, but a smile nevertheless, and the intention is more than mischievous, it is mocking. Youth, or the heroic lie.

1921 Fantaisie
- (violin and piano)
(see the score)
Version pour piano et violon du poème symphonique Jouvence.
1921Sonata in A minor
- (violin and piano)
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Sonate - Le lis - mt I

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Sonate - Le lis - mt II

Le Lis (the Lily »), or « Sonata in A minor for piano and violin » (the order in which the instruments are mentioned recalls Beethoven) is written in 1921. Durosoir produced many works during the years after the Great War. The first movement bears an epigraph two lines by Leconte de Lisle expressing the composer’s disillusionment:

Et j’ai suivi longtemps, sans l’atteindre jamais,
La jeune Illusion qu’en mes beaux jours j’aimais.
(from ‘Bhagavar’, Poèmes antiques)
Despite the apparent pessimism of these lines, the first movement is very inventive, showing great energy and imagination. Contrasting episodes, free and brilliant, express the joy and excitement of youth, while the introduction and the conclusion provide a frame of deep disenchantment. The second movement, ‘Le Lis’ is dedicated ‘to the memory of Jean-Marie Leclair’, a composer and violinist whom Durosoir admired greatly. It follows on from the previous movement without any change of tempo or style. Overall unity is a common feature of Durosoir’works. In this Sonata personal expression is clearly more important than form, and the inspiration to which he was to remain faithful throughout the thirty years of his composing career is already there in essence. The violence of war had been permanently imprinted on his mind and it constantly attempts to break through in his works. But his strong appetite for life (which had inspired his fellow privates to called him ‘le Grand Chef’) always prevails, overcoming in the end that initial reaction of revolt. This work is a fine example of his most mature style: shifting harmonies, superposition of altered chords, abolition of tonal feeling through an abundance of non-harmonic notes, intricate, changing rhythms, amazing complexity, vast parallel movements on the piano creating an impression of orchestral tutti, vehement dialogue between the two parts, unquiet or anguished themes leading ito a sequence expressing irrepressible joy. It is as if, through the voices of the two instruments, life and death were engaged in a bitter struggle. But however fleetingly or elusively, hope always puts in a final appearance..
sonate Le Lis

1921-1922 Quartet in D minor
- (string quartet)
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Quauor N°2 Mvt I

The second quartet in D minor, datees from 1922. It includes three movements, Andante expressivo, Allegro agitato, Berceuse, and Energique. The first movement is made up of a series of contrasting episodes which vacillate between tenderness and revolt. The viola’s role is to bring the movement around to the “dreamy atmosphere” mentioned at its opening, through a hightly expressive descending chromatic theme. Several impassioned motifs are heard in contrepoint to this theme. They intertwine as they lead to the almost brutal Allegro agitato section, in which four-note chords played sforzando accompany the first violin’s raging quintuplets, obstinate triplets hold back diatonic motifs played in contrary motion and as if battling with chromatic, syncopated phrases, and scales and arpeggios sound throughout the entire ranges of instruments. A sudden moment of calm enables a melody built of ascending augmented fifths to emerge. It rises and fall several times in an enchanting manner, an is then followed by the second half of the movement, which reuses the same thematic material in a variety of ways.
The second movement, Berceuse (Lullaby), begins with an Andante in G major whose atmosphere becomes more and more resolutely dark. Pairs of quavers overlap with quavers in 6/8 time, creating a hazy rhythmic lands cape that is well suited to expressing the opening indication “with a feeling of dismal despair”. A brief nine-bar sequence in the enharmonic key of F-sharp major brings a fleeting moment of dim illumination before the return of the tempo primo. A Cantique in A major appears near the middle of the movement, heralded by three unison chords played “with fervour ant enthusiasm” over a ground bass (a descending scale) in the cello part. The Cantique is followed by a brief Allegro deciso in which a beautifully-wrought layering of ostinato motifs is heard in the Cantique in another rhythmic guise. At the same time, the second violin plays a pianissimo series of eleven descending hexachords in which the first notes of each phrase make up the A minor scale , while the first violin plays a plaintive four-note motif over the repeated As. The return of the Cantique leads to a 17-bar Allegro giacoso characterised by a gradual disintegration of the writing, which occurs as a new melody is played by the first and second violins. This contrasting sequence is followed by a dreamy conclusion reminiscent of the first movement the viola’s opening melody is heard as the other instruments play long notes in their highest registers. The Cantique appears once more as if from a distance, in syncopated harmonies played by the viola over the pizzicati of the other instruments. The canon, a subtle and dissonant 48-note reminder of the chaconne, played in crotchets at the interval of a seventh by the first violin and cello, is scarcely audible, as if the passage were denying the stability of reality through its dreamy, nocturnal atmosphere. The last movement, in D minor, is divided between two types of energy, violent in the A section and nimble in the B section. An impassioned dotted theme played by the first violin emerges from the shimmering sounds of the opening. It is accompanied by a brief three-note motif of descending semiquavers reminiscent of wild galloping that is only marginally appeased by a thirty-bar section (“very quickly and lightly”) in which the instruments seem to sing out freely. A return to the tempo primo concludes the A section. The section B is characterised by a fluid motion dominated by triplets in both the initial theme and the various accompaniments. Two lilting diatonic melodies, played simultaneously by the violins, are heard again and again, acting as a ritornello and lending this 63-bar section a carefree, almost joyous air. The closing section is syncretic bringing together the powerfully rhythmic opening theme (transformed here into an Andante molto espressivo), and the cheerful “quick an light” theme, which is interrupted by the violent return of the Allegro agitato from the first movement. The coda, marked “impetuous and impassioned”, is centred around a cello ostinato based on the viola’s melody from the first movement, transformed here by its headlong speed. The first ten bars of the coda, in the 7/4 time, bring together the diverse themes of the entire quartet, offering overwhelming proof of the unifying power of counterpoint.
Quatuor n°2 mt 1

1923 Légende
- (piano)
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Légende, Durosoir’s first composition for solo piano, was written in 1923, three years before the piano sonata Aube, Sonate d’été, one of his major works. Combining movement and reverie, this is a short narrative piece (it lasts about a hundred bars). The main key of A flat major and the slow melodic ascension on the left hand immediately create the remote and mysterious atmosphere that befits a legend. The right hand, acting as the narrator, then evokes memories from a distant past. In the middle of the work, an episode in A major marked “assez mouvementé” brings a brief moment of brighness and action, and the hitherto gently rocking rhythm becomes more assertive, as if for the narration of great deeds. After a dreamy moment, the key of A flat major returns, “Lent et expressif”. The legend fades away, leaving just memory.

1923 Déjanira
- symphonic orchestra )
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Writing in progess.
1924 Le Balcon
- (basse solo, trois voix de femmes, quintette à cordes)
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Le Balcon (1924) Lucien Durosoir took this piece from the edition of Les Fleurs du Mal prefaced by Théophile Gautier, to whom Baudelaire dedicated his collection (1868, no. XXXVII, pp. 137-138).

Mère des souvenirs, maîtresse des maîtresses
Ô toi, tous mes plaisirs ! Ô, toi, tous mes devoirs !
Tu te rappelleras la beauté des caresses,
La douceur du foyer et le charme des soirs,
Mère des souvenirs, maîtresse des maîtresses !

Les soirs illuminés par l’ardeur du charbon,
Et les soirs au balcon, voilés de vapeurs roses.
Que ton sein m’était doux ! Que ton coeur m’était bon !
Nous avons dit souvent d’impérissables choses
Les soirs illuminés par l’ardeur du charbon.

Que les soleils sont beaux dans les chaudes soirées !
Que l’espace est profond ! Que le coeur est puissant !
En me penchant vers toi, reine des adorées,
Je croyais respirer le parfum de ton sang.
Que les soleils sont beaux dans les chaudes soirées !

La nuit s’épaississait ainsi qu’une cloison,
Et mes yeux dans le noir devinaient tes prunelles,
Et je buvais ton souffle, Ô douceur ! Ô poison !
Et tes pieds s’endormaient dans mes mains fraternelles.
La nuit s’épaississait ainsi qu’une cloison,

Je sais l’art d’évoquer les minutes heureuses,
Et revis mon passé blotti dans tes genoux.
Car à quoi bon chercher tes beautés langoureuses
Ailleurs qu’en ton cher corps et qu’en ton coeur si doux ?
Je sais l’art d’évoquer les minutes heureuses !

Ces serments, ces parfums, ces baisers infinis,
Renaîtront-ils d’un gouffre interdit à nos sondes,
Comme montent au ciel les soleils rajeunis
Après s’être lavés au fond des mers profondes ?
Ô serments ! Ô parfums ! Ô baisers infinis !

‘She was dark-skinned, very tall, and carried her head high—a head that was ingenuous and superb, with a mass of frizzy hair. Her regal gait, wild and elegant, had something about it that was both animal and divine.’

Thus Théodore de Banville (Souvenirs, 1882) described the lovely Jeanne Duval, whom he saw as the inspiration of this poem and of many others. She was Baudelaire’s mistress, an embodiment of sensuality, of the temptress, capable of inspiring in the poet a violent carnal passion; she was the possible ideal of the cycle of the ‘BlackVenus’, with whom he had a long and stormy relationship. The ‘mistress of mistresses’ here could well be Jeanne Duval. Théophile Gautier was more cautious, however: ‘Various female figures appear in the background of Baudelaire’s poems […] without our being able to give them a name. They are types rather than real people. They represent the eternel feminine, and the love expressed by the poet is love in the absolute sense, not his love for a particular woman.’ (Preface, p. 35). The poem consists of six five-line stanzas, each with the last line identical to the first, and each one self-contained, expressing an emotion, through the senses of sight, touch or smell, and yet at the same time part of a much vaster picture. Lucien Durosoir composed few vocal works: Le Balcon, poème symphonique pour cordes vocales et instrumentales (1924), is therefore a rare testimony to his love of poetry, especially that of Baudelaire. He composed this work at Bormes (now Bormes- les-Mimosas), completing it in February 1924. Durosoir was not the first to set this poem: Debussy had done so before him (Cinq poèmes de Baudelaire, no. 1, 1890) and a setting by Matthijs Vermeulen (1944) also exists. A vocal setting has its own rhythm, which is not necessarily that of the poem. Sometimes, especially when there is an abundance of instrumental and vocal material, it even deconstructs the poem, as in this case, in which the composer uses a string quintet and three women’s voices (either three solo voices or a small three-part ensemble) in dialogue with the soloist (baritone). The five strings (two violins, viola, cello and double bass) play non-stop, either alone or with the vocal group, or accompanying the soloist. They provide the structuraland semantic basis of the work: they formulate the prelude and the postlude; by means of thematic changes they announce each new stanza and prepare for the new ethos; they anticipate the exclamations, the areas of light and shade, the moments of tenderness or arousal. The group of voices proceeds in short sequences, generally vocalised on the vowel A (replaced just twice by I or O). In the prelude and postlude they also comment on the poetry, sometimes between two fragments of a line, but more often at the end of a stanza. In the latter case they also continue the poetic utterance, while paving the way for a new sequence. The sung poetry is thus set within a rich sound texture that serves to support, announce and comment on it, provide colour and bring out its languor, fervour or violence. The string quintet, with its strongly defined musical ideas and representational intentions, plays a motive and expressive role. By contrast, the vocal group, less expansive, brings to the work the poetic dimension of women’s voices, with pure timbres and the use of high or very high registers. The poetic text naturally imposes the vocal inflections of declamation on the solo melody, dictating when it should be emphatic, gentle, feverish or violent. The composer even makes use of madrigal-like word-painting to illustrate ‘soleils’, ‘puissant’ and ‘profondes’, for example. Rhythmically, however, the music remains completely free: it stretches out at leisure or quickens, conveying a gesture—a look, a caress, an expression of passion or complete submission to recollection. In the music, memory (present throughout the text) finds its expression sublimated in the final episode. Indeed, the sixth stanza takes up sixty-four bars (about twice the length of the others), with a musical fabric that is very complex. The soloist tries to assert the hope of attaining a calmer situation, as expressed in the last stanza, but the other voices and the instruments respond with echoes of the earlier passion and carnal desire, by recalling thematic phrases from the previous stanzas. In the end the memory is materialised at last by means of a subtle interweaving of the final words and music with the very first bars of the work, in a concentrated mixture of vocal and instrumental colours that affirms the profound unity of the piece and the communion of the musician with the poet.

Le Balcon

1924 Le Balcon
- (basse solo, trois voix de femmes et piano)
see the score
PDF - 66.6 kb
Balcon voix et piano

Transcription piano and voice from Le Balcon poème symphonique pour cordes vocales et instrumentales.
1924-1925 Quintet in F major
- (string quartet and piano)
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Quintette Mvt 1

The Piano Quintet was composed between May 1924 and January 1925. Since his decision to give up his career as a violinist, Lucien Durosoir was in search of a haven, far from Paris and its intrigues, where he could find the peace of mind to compose. He set out on a journey through France, taking in the varions provinces where he supposed the climate would be good for the health of his dear disabled mother, who accompanied him. Thus he spent some length of time, probably the whole of 1924, at Bormes (now Bormes-les-Mimosas) in the Var department of Provence. There he wrote the first and the second movement of the Quintet: they bear its name, the date (11 May and 29 August) and the composer’s signature. He and his mother then moved on, and the final movement of the Quintet was finished on 5 January 1925 in Nyons (Drôme). In Durosoir’s output the Piano Quintet comes after the first two string quartets (completed in 1920 and 1922) and several large-scale symphonic works. Although he had to composition fairly late in life and was partly self-taught, he had long been convinced that it was the right path. And by now he mastered the art of large-scale forms perfectly, as well as the subtleties of composition for chamber ensemble. This work affirms the spirit, passion and suppressed violence that are found in all his works hitherto, and also the elegiac, tender, intimate spirit that he liked so much. The profusion of musical material and the many changes he made show an imagination bubbling with activity, a mind that was never satisfied, and a perpetual questioning of ideas. The first movement (230 bars) is characterised by a constant change (every three or four bars) of musical material, ethos and tempo. In 132 bars, the first part of the movement includes eighteen changes of tempo and character (“Nervous and very rhythmic”, “Fast, light and flowing”, “Quite slow with a feeling of nostalgia”, “Very fast, panting and passionate”, “Very fast, light”). This incessant instability makes it hard to identify the structure. Nevertheless, this firt movement falls roughly into three parts, A-B-A’. The first part is based on three main contrasting ideas: the authoritarian theme (“nervous and very rhythmic”) and its contrapuntal accompaniment, consisting of two chromatic, syncopated melodies and a phrase that strings together a series of very fluid triplets; the disappearance of the actual theme, while the other two elements continue, announces the very peaceful middle section (133-179), based entirely on the aesthetic of fluidity and grace. The musical material is completely renewed, although snatches of earlier ideas are recognisable here and there. The quaver triplets superimposed on the groups of four semiquavers create a dreamlike atmosphere, which is underlined by the dynamics pp and ppp. The initial theme returns at bar 180, at the start of a section only half the length of the first one, therefore containing fewer contrasts while reusing the same materials. In the middle of the work, the Nocturne is very personal in its instrumental writing. It introduces momentarily a dreamy lull, the mood of which is created from the outset by the piano. The unison of the strings in pizzicato over an ascending augmented fourth reiterated several times brings a small touch of humour; this sequence return three times, structuring the movement. The sequence beginning at bar 18 has a surprise in store: over a murmuring of tremolos sul ponticello from the other three strings, the cello twice states a six-note theme that evokes – or rather anticipates – the one used by Ravel as the substance of Blues, the second movement of his Violin Sonata of 1927. How can he same theme have been used by two musicians who did not know each other? While Durosoir remains discreet as to its “jazzy” identity, which Ravel humorously asserts, the shot tune reminds us that both men were at the front in 1917 and 1918, when the first wave of jazz music was brought to Europe to Europe by American servicemen. It is moving to think that they must have both heard and remembered this theme, which they later interpreted in their own way. The third movement “impérieux” (268 bars), bursts in on the debris of the Nocturne, whose ideas break up and disperse like will-o’-the-wisps. “With breadth and strength, but without pomposity”: that is Durosoir’s instruction for the vast unison of the strings which, in 14 bars, odd and even, is in turn based on an augmented fifth, an augmented fourth and a major seven. This strong theme returns several times, in conflict with other elements that impose by turns their violence, torment or reverie, following the principle of contrasting style and material that is typical of Durosoir’s manner. Even the opening theme of the first movement reappears, almost identical, just when the victory of the great unison seemed consummate. Finally the latter is obliged to step aside, not because of its usual challengers, but because of the arrival of a four-bar coda that has appeared from we know not where, bringing with it an unexpected lighting, opening onto infinity.
Quintette mt III

1925 Idylle
- (quatuor d’instruments à vent: flûte, clarinette, cor, basson)
see the score
PDF - 78.7 kb

Idylle (1925)

Là reposait l’Amour, et sur sa joue en fleur
D’une pomme brillante éclatait la couleur.
Je vis, dès que j’entrai sous cet épais bocage,
Son arc et son carquois suspendus au feuillage.
Sur des monceaux de rose au calice embaumé
Il dormait. Un souris sur sa bouche formé
L’entrouvrait mollement, et de jeunes abeilles
Venaient cueillir le miel de ses lèvres vermeilles

Translation, imitation, paraphrase: since ancient times, poetry has constantly been rewritten. Is this really André Chénier’s translation of a text by Plato? If so, where did the text by Plato come from? And was it itself not already inspired by a poem written by Anacreon? Did not the poets of the Renaissance act as vectors between Chénier and the Greek poets? Does not music inspired by Chénier’s epigram Idylle naturally belong to that ancient poetic tradition, in that it takes it into the very distinctive sound world of the wind quartet? Composed in 1925 for flute, clarinet, horn and bassoon, this quartet takes the form of a single, 323-bar movement that follows the narrative continuity of the poem, embracing the picture as a whole, while taking notice of detail. Chénier’s poem, with its three-sentence structure, has the stillness and hush that are appropriate to a sleep scene; but around the sleeping Cupid nature is astir. And what certainly charmed Lucien Durosoir, inspiring him to compose this Idylle, constantly humming with unexpected sounds, was the poetic contrast between motionlessness and mobility. Durosoir uses a very colourful impressionism. The immobility of beings and things (the thicket, Cupid, his bow and quiver, the smile) are rendered by drawing out the first theme, the use of slow tempos, with rhythms that cancel out the notion of time, and sequences that are suspended, inquiringly expectant. The constant stir and hum of nature is conveyed by means of ‘bariolages’ over broad intervals, by the frequent occurrence of half a dozen semiquavers in succession, by the profusion and opulence of the sound ideas. The unexpected bursts from the flute or clarinet, the motif consisting of a descending minor third and an ascending minor seventh (reiterated several dozen times and paraphrased in other motifs), evoke the emergence of colours, the flitting of insects, the agitation of visible or invisible things, the life that inhabits the picture. Ut pictura poesis, Ut poesis musica, Ut pictura musica, the syllogistic scheme is inevitable: music is painting.

1925 Rêve
- (violin and piano)
see the score
PDF - 115.8 kb

Four lines by Charles Baudelaire serve as a programme for Rêve, a very meditative, almost religious piece composed in memory of André Caplet, who died this year, 1925:

Il est amer et doux, pendant les nuits d’hiver,
D’écouter, près du feu qui palpite et qui fume,
Les souvenirs lointains lentement s’élever
Au bruit des carillons qui chantent dans la brume.
(Extrait de « La cloche fêlée », LXXVII, Spleen et idéal)

As soldiers of the Fifth Division under General Mangin, living constantly under threat of death, the two men had been very close. And when the peacetime came they where separated only geographically; Caplet constantly encouraged Durosoir to go on composing. The tribute is immediately clear in the quotation from Baudelaire’s poem “La cloche fêlée”, which Caplet had set to music in 1922 along with another piece by the same poet, “ La mort des pauvres”. The very slow tempo (“Très lent”), the lengthening of the bars to 9/4, the shifting rhythms in long values, the dilution of the melodic ideas, stretched out as if indefinitely, give this piece a feeling of serenity yet unquietness and a dreamlike, poetic atmosphere. Rêve is a last expression of friendship, a calm piece recalling memories and accepting the inevitability of death.

1925-1926 Aube Sonate d’été
- (piano)
see the score
PDF - 88.7 kb
Sonate d’été - Aube mt1

PDF - 73.2 kb
Sonate d’été - Aube mt 2

PDF - 90.3 kb
Sonate d’été - Aube mt 3

Writing in progess.
1926-1927 Trio en Si mineur
- (violon, violoncelle et piano)
see the score
PDF - 551 kb
Trio - Mvt I

Trio in B minor for violin, cello and piano (1926-27) This trio, in three movements, is the first piece in what we might call the composer’s ‘second manner’, which was to assert itself more strongly in the great works that followed, notably Le Balcon and the Third String Quartet (1933-34). Let us attempt to determine the features of this work: almost complete disappearance of counterpoint, disintegration of the melodic line, use of opposing sections, a broadening of the registers (and a fondness for the very high register), great technical demands, the quest for a new conception of sound (hence the coupling of instrumental timbres), a broken structure, deconstructed writing. It took Durosoir a whole year (January 1926 to January 1927) to complete this work, which was written in several different places. He composed the first movement at Hendaye, on the Atlantic coast in south-western France, where the climate and scenery so appealed to him (he was later to settle permanently in the region). It was finished on 18 April 1926. This rhapsodic piece opens on a dark picture, with the three instruments each presenting an independent discourse: insistent rocking from the piano, forceful appeals from the cello, implacable response from the violin. Then the ‘nervous and proud’ theme enters, almost martial in its severity. The alternation of these ideas engenders five very contrasting sections (A1, B1, A2, B2, A3), which are themselves divided into very short episodes, thirty in all, averaging six to ten bars, which are reiterated several times in new cladding (melodic, harmonic, etc.). The vehement dialogue brought about by the nature of the ‘nervous and proud’ theme sometimes turns into confrontation, but in the end the first idea returns to impose its extreme gravity. The second movement was composed at Vincennes (where the composer lived for most of the time during those years), then at Bourbonne-les-Bains, where he completed it on 12 July 1926. The following three lines by Jean Moréas, with their twilight atmosphere, appear as an epigraph on the final copy, but not on the first manuscript: À cette heure où le soir tombe du ciel, et plane Et frémit doucement dans l’ombre du platane De roses enroulé.5 The 151 bars of this movement are dominated by a sort of sad cantilena from the violin, covering the instrument’s full range, with the cello in its highest register sometimes joining in or taking over. The piano presents uncertain melodies, their contents broken up into hesitant, discontinuous rhythms. Twice a tormented, confused and violent episode disturbs the bleak sadness, but each time the twilight and its nostalgia return with the violin’s melody. The third movement, written in the house the composer had recently bought in the Landes, was completed on 4 January 1927. It begins in a ‘brisk and passionate’ tempo, before a beautiful and ‘very dreamy’ theme takes over, played by the violin and the cello an octave apart. These two main elements, giving the movement its structure, sometimes give way to sections that renew the musical material, influence the tempo and momentarily change the atmosphere. Finally, the ‘nervous and proud’ theme from the first movement reappears; this is the only indication of a possible cyclic intention. This trio is awesomely difficult, putting the musicians to the test by demanding feats that are often unconventional, aimed at broadening the sound space. The vast arpeggios shatter into small groups of notes that flit from one register to another; the cello is obliged to join the violin in the very high register; the two bowed instruments 38 39 endeavour to blend while at the same time contrasting their respective tessituras; the ensemble breaks apart only to come together again immediately, thus creating a perpetual and unsettling instability. Nor does this work spontaneously reveal its complex structure and its inner meaning. In a discourse in which everything seems to be constantly called into question, it is up to the interpreters to underline or soften the articulations, to feel and convey the balance that exists between themes and timbres, and to reveal in the end the overall inspiration of this long work, thus making it intelligible rather than enigmatic.

1927 Oisillon bleu
- (violin and piano)
see the score
PDF - 102.6 kb
Oisillon bleu

Oisillon bleu, couleur du temps
Tes chants, tes chants
Dorlotent doucement les cœurs
Meurtris par les destins moqueurs

(Extrait de « La Carmencita » Les Syrtes)

Moréas was one of Durosoir’s favourite poets. In this composition he conveys the “mocking destinies”, as well as the freedom and relative insouciance of the bird. The melodies played by the violin and the piano are whimsical, unpredictable. The trills in the high on the piano have no descriptive intention but serve to create a constantly feverish mood. The violin meanwhile presents a different type of music, richly sonorous and generously melodic. Scordatura (G string tuned to F) is used to give the violin’s melodies further depth and mystery. These elements create an atmosphere of rare poetry. This piece dates from 1927.
Oisillon bleu

1927-1930 Funérailles
- (symphonic orchestra )
see the score
PDF - 210.1 kb

Writing in progess.
1930 Sonnet à un enfant
- (voice and piano)
see the score
PDF - 207.3 kb

Sonnet à un enfant (1930) Lucien Durosoir left only three vocal works: Le Balcon, Sonnet à un enfant and À ma mère (unfinished). He loved Baudelaire, the Parnassian poets, the Symbolists; he was an avid reader of contemporary poetry in which he would seek texts that inspired him; but apparently he did not take into account the poets’ philosophical commitments. At the time when he was particularly interested in the poems of La Tailhède (a poet close to Charles Maurras, and later Maurice Barrès), he resumed his old friendship with the anarchist Paul Ghio, whose last works he acquired with a dedication from the author. This composition is based on a sonnet by Raymond de La Tailhède, which Lucien Durosoir took from the complete edition of the poet’s works (Les poésies de Raymond de la Tailhède, Paris, 1926, p. 103), where it belongs to the group of ‘Premières poésies’ and bears the simple title À un enfant (To a child). Durosoir chose to call his composition Sonnet à un enfant. This art song, or mélodie, came just after Funérailles, the large-scale orchestral work that kept the composer busy for three whole years. He must have felt a need to compose something more intimate and on a smaller scale at that time. Like Funérailles (composed in memory of the soldiers of the Great War, to a poem by Jean Moréas), Sonnet à un enfant is inhabited by sombre thoughts, premonitions of life’s sufferings.

Toi qui rêves toujours, ne parlant pas encore,
Petit enfant royal, par le bleu de tes yeux,
Vois-tu la flamme orientale de l’aurore
Qui se lève sur ton sommeil silencieux ?

Vois-tu toute la mer périlleuse et joyeuse ?
De lourdes visions émergent de brouillards
À travers les lueurs d’une lune frileuse
Et de grands cavaliers portent des étendards.

Si dans la nuit, ou dans le jour, lorsque tu rêves,
Tu vois le ciel doré, si tu vois cette mer,
Aux heures des douleurs tes douleurs seront brèves

Quand la vie aura fait ton esprit plus amer,
Tu te rappelleras ces fantômes magiques,
Pour t’endormir au souvenir de leurs musiques.

Despite the charming evocation of a sleeping child, this poem is heavy with pain— that, no doubt, of the composer’s own experience. Lucien Durosoir lost his father in an accident when he was ten years old. This image of childish innocence, with so little hope of happiness, must have reminded him of all the children orphaned by the Great War. Soft light but threatening shadows, a sea that is ‘perilous and joyful’, ‘magical phantoms’ remembered from the past: these are life’s contrasts as seen by a man in adulthood as he looks back. Yet the happy memory that has survived to provide moral strength and restore hope makes this poem a link in an immense chain of pieces written by poets from Dante to Alfred de Musset, and on for centuries to come: Dante, why do you say there is no greater misery / than happy memories in times of sorrow? The key of B flat minor, with its five flats, is appropriate for gloom and anxiety. The middle section, with its many accidentals, opts for major before returning to the original key. By turns the piano sinks into the murk or springs towards the light, while the voices express innocence and naivety, and sometimes even a fleeting moment of joy. In the final bars the message of hope triumphs at last, as the dreamy vocal melody rises, supported by the upward movement of the piano, as if inspired by the dawning of a new day.
Sonnet à un enfant

1931 Trilogie
- Improvisation, Maïade, Divertissement
- (cello and piano)
see the score
PDF - 64 kb

PDF - 56.2 kb

PDF - 75.7 kb

Improvisation, Maïade, Divertissement (1931)
On 21 April 1931 Maurice Maréchal received Divertissement, which is dedicated to him. Straight away he wrote to Lucien Durosoir: ‘I have received both parts. I immediately sight-read mine on the cello, and as a cellist I thought it rather ironical to call it Divertissement, and as a musician I thought that it is indeed one, and a charming onem . . . for the listener! But good God, it’s difficult! Even with your recommendation to play it “very freely, with charm, and with ricochet if possible”! Anyway, we’ll work on it this summer, and we’ll enjoy ourselves, especially if you come over for some escargots à la Maréchale!’4 The letter is in the honest, light-hearted tone of an old friend, although the relationship between Maréchal and Durosoir, his senior by fourteen years, was not exactly that of old friends. They had met in 1916, in the region of Génicourt (Meuse), a sector that was occupied by the Fifth Division. At that time the quartet formed by Durosoir at the request of his music-loving colonel was looking for a cellist. The musicians, who belonged to two neighbouring infantry regiments (the 74th and the 129th), had the full support of their superiors. The memorandum authorising them to meet stated: ‘The soldiers whose names follow: Caplet sergeant, Durosoir private, are detailed to participate in the music sessions due to take place at Ambly during the company commanders’ classes. They are to be given every facility for the trips necessitated by their rehearsals.’ The rehearsals were held at Génicourt, where Maréchal and Magne, the pianist, were based. After the war, Maréchal had resumed his brilliant career as a soloist, touring France and other countries, including the United States in 1927 and 1930, Russia in 1932. And he, who had been acclaimed everywhere and had recently given the first performance of Honegger’s Cello Concerto in Boston under Koussevitsky, complained about the difficulty of Durosoir’s Divertissement! But did not Pablo Casals say that he found the cello so difficult to play that every time he heard someone do so he felt it must be a miracle? These three pieces (which may be performed separately) are indeed difficult for the cellist; but they present the pianist too with a technical challenge. Durosoir, himself a virtuoso violinist, appears to have made light of technical feats, and he expected those who performed his works to do likewise. Improvisation weaves a very fine dialogue between the instruments and creates some delightful atmospheres with its melodies in harmonics, its uneven pizzicato rhythms over broken octaves from the piano; we get the impression of complete freedom in the rhythms, which is indeed only an impression.
Maïade, in the Landes region to which Durosoir had recently retired, refers to the local Mayday celebrations, a survival from the Revolutionary era, when the young people of the village would go and pay tribute to the mayor and his councillors and symbolically plant a blossoming tree in front of the mayor’s house. This is a cheerful piece, alternating joy and tenderness, and with a hint of Durosoir’s beloved Franck Cello Sonata in the central melody.
In Divertissement the difficulties accumulate: two main themes provide structure with their frequent returns and frame the middle section. Theme A, using a vast range of sound effects in the highest register and making vertiginous leaps, takes on a nervous, feverish character. Three times an extremely poetic episode is brought by theme B, which consists of sequences of fifths (sometimes harmonic), then sixths, played using double stopping.



1931 Suite pour flûte et petit orchestre
- (flute and symphonic orchestra)
see the score
PDF - 127.5 kb
Suite pour flûte

Writing in progess.
1932 Prélude, interlude et fantaisie
- (two pianos)
(see the score)
Writing in progess.
1933-1934 Quartet in H minor
- (string quartet)
see the score
PDF - 81 kb
Quatuor en si mineur - mt I

PDF - 77.7 kb
Quatuor en si mineur - mt II

PDF - 76.3 kb
Quatuor en si mineur - mt III

Written in 1933-34, the third quartet in B minor is one of Durosoir’s most accomplished works. In formal terms, it leaves classicism for behind and its dominant element is one of fiery passion. The highly virtuoso writing for each of the instruments pushes them to their technical limits. The first movement, marked “resolute and impassioned” is based on two sections which offer a distinct contrast in terms of tempo, texture and affect. He unusual sonority of the A section sterns from several elements: the series of fifths played by the second violin and the viola, the pizzicato appoggiaturas that sound at the same time as the main note, and shimmering pianissimo tremolos. The theme, played first by the cello, then by the viola (in bar 24), typifies Durosoir’s writing with its opening triplet and diatonic feel. Bar 133, marked “rapid and feverish, like a hallucination” ends section A. The B section heard six times, is make up of 18 bars in alternating 3/8 and 2/8 time played at the breakneck speed of 52 to the quaver. The ragging overlapping quaver and semiquaver triplets and violent pizzicato chords played off the beat are counterbalanced by short sections of a more restrained nature that are interrupted by the return of opening fury. The return of the A section is challenged by a re-entry of part B , which brings the movement to a close in a broader, more peaceful atmosphere. The complexity of the second movement is expressed in its overall form as well as in each of its parts. Each sequence – “quite slowly, dreamily” and “much more quickly” – is interrupted by a contrasting episode, “animated” in the slow section and “a little more slowly” in the quick section. The material of the two opening sequences is highly contrasted. The instruments uses mutes to create an atmosphere of reverie in the first theme, while off-beat rhythmic punctuation creates a feeling of instability that accompanies the dream like melody played by the first violin. A violent section, played “much more quickly”, follows. Headlong triplets played at 144 to the crochet are heard over off-beat chords and paired quavers. The chromatic melodies, irregular harmonies bristling with accidentals, and series of fifths played by all four instruments combine to create an impression of unchecked speed, which comes to a sudden cliff-hanging halt with a long pause. Fourteen bars, played “a little slower”, are heard before the complete repeat of the A section, which ends with long lyrical passage reminiscent of the movement’s initial atmosphere. It should be pointed out that Durosoir’s writing is not contrapuntal here- an unusual occurrence. Instead, he concentrates on creating contrasting atmospheres and bringing together contradictory sounds and moods which combine to express his own inner contradictions. The Finale mood harks back to the dark and stormy first movement. Its tight structure contains dense, extremely complex writing. The double stops in the violin parts and the use of the instruments’ highest registers give an impression of expanded sound. Special effect (“sull ponticello, ricocheting and use of the mute) create a variety of remarkable resonances. The altered theme, reuse of themes heard in previous movements; pursuit of complex textures and frequent mood changes combine to create a rich tapestry of sound. The movement resembles a rondo whose theme constantly overpowers the episodes. Its complex contrapuntal theme, which lasts twenty bars, consists of a resolute diatonic melody including a characteristic phrase made up of a minor second and descending fourths. It is accompanied by previously heard elements such as fiths played in triplets and off-beat pizzicato, creating a multifaceted thematic and rhythmic texture. The refrain returns six times, three of which (the first, third and fifth times) are followed by a brief, contrasting episode played sull ponticello by the violins and accompanied by two motifs played simultaneously on the lower-stringed instruments. The second occurrence of the refrain is followed by an episode in which the viola and the cello expose the main thematic material: the viola plays a diatonic and strongly rhythmical theme while the cello alternates between a rhythmical repeated note and a melodic ostinato based on one of the motifs heard in the first movement. The refrain’s fourth appearance is followed by a thirty-bar cello sequence, to be played “more quickly, in an impassioned and agitated way”. It, too, is based on one of the first movement themes. The mood in this finely wrought, learned passage, which is based on previously-used themes and whose architecture is robust and intricate, can be described as profoundly unsettled, or even distraught. It is undoubtedly for the reason that the final appearance of the refrain leads – in a completely unexpected way, after 204 violently rushing bars – to the “much slower” 24-bars section with which the quartet ends. The profoundly despairing sequence begins with a five-note melody reminiscent of a prayer. A number of elements from the first movement are heard for a last time at the new, slower tempo, like images from the past experienced through a haze of nostalgia. No ray of hope or mercy shone forth in 1933 and 1934, and the boots that would once again crush Europe were already on the march.
Quatuor n°3 mt III

1934 Vitrail
- (viola and piano)
(see the score)
The manuscrit signed ant dated 19 September, bears the name of the village in the Landes where the composer finally settled. In the monachal retreat he composed relentlessly. 1934 saw the completion of three works. What did that year represent in his life? No doubt a form of happiness at having found his chosen path, and at seeing the progress ha was making in his oeuvre. Vitrail (the title means”Stained-glass window”) his was his twenty-fifth opus. His Third String quartet, completed a few months previously, had had been quite different in expression with its violence, its angry sequences and its despairing conclusion. The events of 1933 – the sudden rise to power of Adolf Hitler, the night of 10 May with the infamous burning of twenty thousands books in Berlin’s Opernplatz – had deeply affected Lucien Durosoir. The context in which Vitrail was written was also sombre (the Night of long knives, the referendum of 19 August giving the Führer absolute power, translation into French of MeinKampf). This piece, in one movement, its too short (90 bars) for any attempt to be made to decipher a particular message, so let us just observe how it unfolds and analyse its aestheic. “With much gentleness and simplicity” is the prescription for the first 18 bars, in 6/4. Bars 19-47 are expected to be “light”, with the instruments becoming more voluble. The episode marked “Faster. With lightness” (bar 48) is base on 2/4 time with its fast tempo (crochet = 132) for 28 bars, before the first section returns, reduced to 17 bars. The piece thus falls into four sequences. The key of B flat minor maintains a sort of half-light throughout the piece. The piano begins delicately with arpeggios on the right hand, in the high register, supported by discreet octaves on the left; the viola enters (bar 5) on an almost ingenuous phrase, a melody in conjunct motion using sequences of just a few bars, which calmly soars above the more voluble line of the piano. In the second section (“light”) the viola vies for dominance with the piano, notably during the bars in which in quaver triplets are superimposed (we are in 6/4) on the piano’s batches of semiquavers. This part, complex in its rhythms, paves the way for the arrival of the third section (“faster. With lightness”), which is dominated by the viola’s casual tone and short, colourful, spinning phrases. Finally the opening phrase returns, this time stylised by the harmonics of the viola, accompanied by the elegant trills and arpeggios of the piano. These four sequences, with no real contrast of ethos, are bound together by the key of B flat minor. Vitrail is divided between a feeling of gentleness and cal and another mood for which term ”joyeuseté” (joyousness) seems to be appropriate. The French word “joyeuseté” was associated, in the medieval chanson, with a kind of moderate joy, binging with it a feeling of deep fulfilment, rather than joyful exuberance. The piano and the viola share the spirituality of this short piece. The listener hears the deep voice of the viola saying its apparently simple and innocent prayer. As for the musicians, they find themselves faced with a complex, dense work that is amazingly personal and modern, never virtuosic but nevertheless full of subtle difficulties.

1934 Berceuse
- (flute and piano)
see the score
PDF - 123.5 kb
berceuse flûte et piano

This deeply nostalgic piece was written in the day just before his mother died. In 1950 Durosoir referred to his composition as Berceuse funèbre (Funeral lullaby); he also pointed out that he had used the same melody again for his Chant élégiaque written in memory of the violinist Ginette Neveu. The new version, he felt, was “much better” than the original. In this piece of 1934 the flute never really leaves its dreamy sadness, although it sometimes escapes toa very high register, accompanied by lively, changing rhythms. The piano’s poetry is expressed sometimes in long trills, sometimes in the vast, calm arpeggios, or else in more hazy episodes, superposing odd and even rhythms conducive to straying thoughts.
Berceuse flûte

1935 Au Vent des Landes
- flute and piano)
see the score
PDF - 85.1 kb
Au vent des Landes

Any one who knows the wild coast of southwest France will see this piece for flute and piano as a musical painting. Every sound an unchecked wind can make, from murmuring to blasting, are found in these two hundred or so bars in fast 3/8.The images evoked by the music are by turns delicate and violent; very light, “fluttering” touches (incises of two repeated notes, brief triplets, ascending, descending, colourful, played on the flute and the pianist’s right hand) express perfectly the wind’s hesitant waltz as it travel over desolate areas, its sudden impulsions, unexpected drops of brief moments of respite. The piano writing, almost entirely in parallel motion, imposes its feverish excitement, its relentless racing. Restrained at first, the dialogue between the two instruments gradually grows restless, soon becoming on outright struggle; le wind fighting against the sparse vegetation; thistles, bent by the storm, striving to keep upright; nature in conflict with itself, a merciless fight between instability and stability, between air and earth, in the indescribable poetry of nature that is free and in which the eye has no other limit than the horizon.
Vent des Landes

1937 Fantaisie
- horn, harp and piano)
see the score
PDF - 79 kb

Writing in progess.
1945 Deux préludes
- (clavier)
(see the score)
Writing in progess.
1945 Prélude pour orgue en Fa dièse mineur
- (orgue)
(see the score)
Writing in progess.
1946 Incantation Bouddhique
- (cor anglais et piano)
see the score
PDF - 93.5 kb
Incantation bouddhique

After eight years without producing any works, Lucien Durosoir was able to return to composition at the end of the Second World War, when, in 1945, his friend, the violinist Pierre Mayer, sent him some music paper from Boston. He composed the Tree Organ Preludes in memory of one of his earliest companions of the First World War, Georges Rolland, who died recently. Two world wars got the better of Lucien Durosoir’s faith in the human beings and in any form of god, but his belief in the essential importance to mankind of spirituality stood firm. His books show his interest in diverse trends of thought, with oriental philosophy featuring prominently. He had a copy of Zam Bhotiva’s Asia mysteriosa – the bible of Rosacrucianism, the philosophy of which recommends total detachment from the material and aspiration to a perfect spiritual state (comparable to the state of Buddha), respect for mankind, and the need to develop love as a response to violence. On his bookshelves there was also A l’ombre des monastères thibétains by J. Marquès Rivière (1930) and La doctrine secrete by Helena Blavatsky (1888; French translation, 1928) both connected with the Theosophical Society, whose three declared object, with could sum up Lucien Durosoir’s personal quest at this time, are as follow: “First- To form a nucleus of the Universal Brotherhood of Humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, cast, or colour. Second - To encourage the study of Comparative Religion, philosophy, Science. Third – To investigate the unexplained laws of Nature and the powers latent in man .” More unexpected is the fact that he had a copy of Après la mort by Léon Denis, a work on spiritism. The composer also appears to have been a friend of the anarchist Paul Ghio; he possessed all his works, which is a warm dedication from the author, whom he had know before the war, but met again later, as is witnessed by the dedications of 1929 and 1930. Should we see his return to texts that he has read many years previously as a final attempt to discover the meaning of life, a rather desperate spiritual move? Incantation bouddhique is the only one of Lucien Durosoir’s work that evokes Oriental spirituality. It is rather unlikely that had heard any music that could have served of model, since he was by then living an isolated life in the country. So this music relating to Buddhist practice is purely imaginary in its religions atmosphere and exoticism. Its strange melodic turns of phrase, its rhythms both abrupt and tender, the anxious dialogue between the solo instrument and the piano, make this work, with its highly original style, very strange and at the same time poetic in its strangeness.
Incantation cor anglais piano

- (piano)
see the score
PDF - 61.3 kb

Nocturne is an original work, with an abundance of altered intervals that sometimes gives an atonal feeling. Its unity is interrupted in the middle by an episode in generous chords that summarises the composer’s harmonic options a series of common chords, gradual integration of non harmonic notes ( added sixth or seventh, altered fifth), polytonality stemming from a superposition of chords. Breaking almost completely with the traditional spirit of the nocturne, this work does not evoke reverie, but rather torment, and if pertains to night, it is one troubled by dark premonitions. From his notebook, we know that Lucien Durosoir was often in poor health that year, and although music is a constant subject in his writing, Nocturne is not mentioned.

1949 Prière à Marie
- (violin and piano)
see the score
PDF - 75 kb
Prière à Marie

Prière à Marie is one of Lucien Durosoir’s compositions. Dedicated to his children, it begins with a message expressing the hope that spiritual values will be a greatest importance to them throughout their lives: “Puissent les biens spirituels descendrent en eux, que leur vie entière ils en conservent l’amour”. Again the style is very simple, with no vain virtuosity or useless complexity. In just under fifty bars both the piano and the violin present generous melodies covering every register. The composer was very fond of the piece, which the apparently considered to be his spiritual testament. Seeing his children coming to adolescence when he was in his seventies and in poor health, he guessed that he would not live to see them reach adulthood. “that is why, through my Prière à Marie, I ask God to let me live a little longer.” This is a sober, tender work, bearing a spiritual message from one who had experienced the horrors of the war to those still protected by the innocence of childhood.
Prière à Marie

1949 Improvisation sur la gamme d’ut
- (melodic instrument and piano)
(see the score)
Writing in progess.
1949 A ma mère
- (voice and piano)
1950 Chant élégiaque
- (violin and piano)
see the score
PDF - 60.4 kb
Chant élégiaque

Chant élégiaque is dedicated to the great violinist Ginette Neveu, who had died recently in a plane crash over the Azores. In February 1950 the composer wrote, ‘this month of February has passed uneventfully; it has generally been cold and dull. During that time I wrote a Chant élégiaque in memory of Ginette Neveu. I took the melodic line from my Berceuse funèbre [his Berceuse for flute and piano of 1934] and completely rewrote the lower parts and all the lines of accompaniment; this piece is undoubtedly much better than the first. ’Chant élégiaque is the only known rewritten work by Lucien Durosoir. In 1950 his health had taken a turn for the worse, making composition more difficult, and the tribute to Ginette Neveu needed to be written quite quickly: those are probably the reasons why he chose to reuse earlier material. The rare key of G flat major creates a meditative, but no sad, atmosphere. In their dialogue the two instruments exchange and vary the same motifs; the two instruments play a pleasing melody in the high register, while the pianist’s left hand sometimes breaks away in search of darker colours. Written by a great violinist in memory another, this piece does not use any spectacular resources for either instruments, but it has a pleasing and very appropriate quality of gentle and wistful mournfulness. The composer’s last work.
Chant élégiaque

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