Koechlin, Charles


Koechlin, Charles

Les heures persanes Op. 65 bis for orchestra

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Charles-Louis-Eugène Koechlin – Les heures persanes Op. 65 bis for orchestra

(b. Paris, November 27, 1867 — d. Le Canadel, Var, France, December 31, 1950)

(The Persian Hours)

Charles Koechlin was born into a large upper-middle-class Protestant family in Paris on Nov. 27, 1867 and died on the last day of the year in 1950. His father was a textile designer. However, music, indeed all the arts played a key role in the family. His sister played the piano and early on he was moved by the music of Bach upon hearing a cantata in a church setting. Bach’s music became a lifelong obsession as he stated: “Perhaps it is necessary to love Bach to understand Koechlin.”

Following the wishes of his father, he was admitted to the Ecole Polytechnique in 1887 to study engineering. Both an unenthusiastic and poor student he left two years later and following his passion, entered the Paris Conservatoire. He studied composition with Jules Massenet, Gabriel Fauré and Maurice Ravel. His opus 1, Cinq Rondels for voice and piano was completed at age 23. In the following sixty years he authored a large quantity of music, numbering more than 200 works. In his lifetime, Koechlin was more well-known as an author, theorist and teacher than as a composer. His writings include a multi-volume treatise on music theory, Traite de l’harmonie and an extensive four-volume treatise on orchestration Traite de l’orchestration.

His numerous writings also include extensive biographies of Claude Debussy, Gabriel Fauré and numerous articles / monographs found in various encyclopedias and scholarly journals. Although his music did not receive as many performances as some of the other leading composers of his time, Koechlin was universally admired and respected by his peers. His reputation extended beyond Europe as he traveled widely as a lecturer on music, including four tours in the United States. …

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