Phidylé for voice and orchestra (+ original version for voice and piano)
(b. Paris, 12 January 1848 – d. Mont-de-Marsan, 12 February 1933)
for voice and orchestra
Songs with Orchestra
No fewer than eight of Duparc’s sixteen surviving solo mélodies exist in versions with orchestral accompaniment. Seven of them were published first with piano, and orchestrated only later. (The exception is La vague et la cloche, which was intended for voice and orchestra from the outset.) When we consider that, for example, Duparc’s near contemporary, Gabriel Fauré, orchestrated only four of his own songs (Chanson du pêcheur/Lamento, En prière, Clair de lune and Les Roses d’Ispahan), Duparc’s efforts in this direction are impressive.1 However, a remark by the composer in a letter to his friend, the Bordeaux-based wine merchant and musician Paul Charriol, on 23 June 1906 strongly suggests that Duparc regarded all his piano accompaniments as but a preliminary stage in the realization of an ultimately orchestral conception: „I am not forgetting your excellent accompanist, to whom I am infinitely grateful because he has understood so well that my accompaniments are a symphonic and orchestral texture that is at one with the voice, and not piano pieces intended for performance by a virtuoso pianist while one sings. You cannot imagine the difficulty I often have in making this understood, and I haven’t always succeeded in doing so; thus I was delighted the other day to see, right from the opening bars, that not only had your accompanist comprehended this by himself, but also that he was visibly seeking to reproduce different orchestral timbres on the piano.“2
An equally surprising passage on the subject had appeared several years earlier, in a letter from Duparc to the pianist Francis Planté written early in 1894: “If only I knew how to write for the piano … but I’m completely unable to do so, and cannot even write the piano accompaniments for my songs directly. First of all I have to make an abridged version for orchestra, then a sort of piano reduction of it.3
Duparc’s songs were mainly published in three collections, all issued in Paris:
– A collection of five songs, published by Flaxland in 1869
– A collection of eight songs, published by Baudoux in 1894, with a revised version from the same publisher issued in 1902 that included four more titles (Soupir, Chanson triste, Elégie and La Vie antérieure).
– Thirteen songs, published in 1911 by Rouart, Lerolle, and advertised as a “Nouvelle édition complète”. The song missing from Baudoux’s 1902 collection was Au pays où se fait la guerre.
The seven orchestrated songs are as follows:
– Chanson triste (no. 4 of Flaxland’s 1869 collection; final version published in Baudoux’s collection of 1902). Orchestrated 1910 — Heregger cites a letter of 1 January 1911 from Duparc to Paul Charriol in which the composer states “I have just finished orchestrating the Chanson triste”.
– Au pays où se fait la guerre. First published in Paris as a music supplement to Le Journal de musique, vol. 1 no. 51 (19 May 1877), and in a revised version as no. 13 of Rouart, Lerolle’s 1911 collection. First orchestrated 1876 for Duparc’s opera Roussalka. A second orchestration was made in 1911-13, with help from Ernest Ansermet and Auguste Sérieyx.
– L’Invitation au voyage (no. 1 of Baudoux’s 1894 collection). Orchestrated sometime between 1892 and 1895.
– Phidylé (no. 5 of Baudoux’s 1894 collection). Orchestrated in the winter of 1891-92.
– Testament (no. 8 of Baudoux’s 1894 collection). First orchestrated 1900-01, with revised orchestration made ?1911 – Heregger quotes a letter from Duparc to Charriol of 26 May 1911 in which the composer states “… I am trying to orchestrate Testament at the moment”. At the end of August he writes to Charriol that he is “reading over Testament again, and it seems good.” As for the original orchestration, Duparc wrote to Jean Cras on 5 December 1902: “The poor new Testament is finished at last!!! What torture! I will try to do La Vie antérieure…”
– La vie antérieure (no. 12 of Baudoux’s 1902 collection). Orchestrated 1911-12 with help from Ansermet, Sérieyx, J. Guy Ropartz and Jean Cras. Duparc’s letter to Paul Charriol of 1 January 1911 states “I intend to orchestrate La vie antérieure.”
– Le manoir de Rosemonde (no. 6 of Baudoux’s 1894 collection). Orchestrated 1911-12. It is probably no accident that …
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