«Epiphanie» (daprès une légende éthiopienne) Fresque pour Violoncelle et Piano (Score and parts)
(d’après une légende éthiopienne) Fresque pour Violoncelle et Orchestre (1921-22, orchd. 1923)
(b. Le Havre, 23 November 1878 – d. Neuilly-sur-Seine, 2 April 1925
Tempo di pastorale (p. 1) – Cortège. Modéré (p. 4) – a Tempo primo (du début) (p. 49) – Cadence (p. 51) – Très vite (p.55) – Danse des petits négres (p. 56) – Modéré (p. 99) – Trés vif (p. 107)
André Caplet, Claude Debussy’s closest collaborator, was himself a composer of impeccable culture and a superb con- ductor. Today he is remembered mainly as Debessy’s most important assistant in orchestration, even more so than Henri Büsser (Petite Suite and Printemps) or Charles Koechlin (Khamma). It was he who orchestrated Parts II to IV of Le Martyre de St. Sébastien (1911), the bulk of La boîte à joujoux, and the complete score of Children’s Corner. He also supplied an enchanting timbral garb to Debussy’s most popular piano piece, Clair de lune.
The seventh child in an underprivileged family, Caplet had an unsentimental, natural modesty that made him an ideal companion. At the age of twelve he was a vocal coach at the Folies-Bergères in his native Le Havre; at fourteen he played violin in the local Grand Théâtre. After making rapid progress in harmony, counterpoint, and piano with Henry Woollett (1864-1936), in 1896 he enrolled at the Paris Conservatoire, where he studied harmony with Xavier Leroux (1863-1919), fugue and composition with Charles-Ferdinand Lenepveu (1840-1910), and with Paul Vidal (1863-1931). After many awards, he immediately won the Prix de Rome in 1901 for his cantata Myrrha, premièred in Paris on 19 October of that same year.
In 1896 Caplet stepped in at short notice for the conductor Leroux at the Théâtre de la Porte-St-Martin, thereby launch- ing his brilliant career as an orchestral conductor. He quickly rose from timpanist to assistant conductor in the Orchestre Colonne and was appointed musical director at the Théâtre de l’Odéon in 1898. He invariably proved to be a meticulously prepared and in every respect irreproachable conductor with an incorruptible ear, and after several performances of rare perfection he soon won international acclaim. In October 1910 the impresario Henry Russell (1871-1937), with whose wife Nina he later had a long-term affair, invited him to conduct the Boston Opera Company, with which he worked six months of every year for four years, assuming the position of musical director in 1912.
In 1914 Caplet volunteered for war duty in his native France. Wounded twice, he was destined to die ten years later of respiratory failure resulting from a poison gas attack. When the hostilities ended, he withdrew from his conducting and teaching positions and devoted himself entirely to composition. After marrying Geneviève Perruchon (1886-1955) in
1919, he led a retiring life and immersed himself in Catholic mysticism, which underlies the work generally considered his magnum opus: Le miroir de Jésus (1903), a setting of the Mysteries of the Rosary premièred in Lyons on 24 February
1924 under the direction of Georges Martin Witkowski (1867-1943) and repeated in Paris on 2 May 1924 under Caplet’s own baton.
From 1907 Caplet enjoyed a close friendship with Claude Debussy, whose harmonic language he held in deep admiration. Debussy was equally appreciative of Caplet; in a letter of 1908 to Georges Jean-Aubry he praised his “gift for evoking atmosphere” and his “rare sense of proportion” in composition. From then on Caplet was indispensable to Debussy as a proofreader, being, in Debussy’s words, nothing less than “le tombeau des fautes” and “l’ange de corrections.” According to eye witnesses, Caplet conducted the most magnificent performances not only of Debussy’s opera Pelléas et Mélisande but also, after the two men had met, the première of Le Martyre de Saint Sébastien.
Read preface / Vorwort > HERE