Maurice, Pierre


Maurice, Pierre

Perséphone Op. 38, orchestral suite

SKU: 4654 Category:


Pierre Maurice – Perséphone, Op. 38

(b. Allaman , 13. November 1868 – gest. Allaman 25. December 1936)

Suite pour orchestre (1930)

The life of Swiss composer Pierre Maurice straddled the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He was born in Allaman near Lake Geneva on 13 November 1868 and died there on 25 December 1936.

Percy Goetschius, a German connection affirmed by two decades in Munich in his early manhood, was Maurice’s professor. He also studied counterpoint and harmony with Émile Jaques-Dalcroze and later with Massenet at the Conservatoire de Paris with Jules Massenet. His orchestration skills received polish from Gabriel Fauré.

Returning to Switzerland in 1899 opera then dominated his output. These works included: Le Calife Cigogne (1886); Le Drapeau Blanc (1902); Misé-Brun (1908); Lanval (1912); Arambel (1920) (a ballet-pantomime), La nuit tous les chats sont gris (a comic opera) and in 1923 a grand “opéra-lyrique” Andromède (1923). Scattered among these major works – none of which have yet endured, there are orchestral pieces: Pêcheurs d’Islande, a “suite symphonique” after Pierre Lôti dating from (1895) and a symphonic poem Francesca da Rimini from (1899). The Lôti piece also attracted Joseph Guy-Ropartz while Francesca has inspired Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov and Arthur Foote. Add to these works two operas – one by Zandonai and the other by Mercadante.

Although not to quite the same degree and certainly not to the same style the Greek legends cast a spell over both Stravinsky and Maurice. In the latter’s case this extended to the suite Perséphone. Eccentrically this is divided into two substantial movements across half an hour.

Accounts differ in the detail but the consensus seems to be that Persephone was much associated with the underworld (Hades). Indeed she was the wife of the god Hades. She also stands as the goddess of Spring being the daughter of Demeter and of Zeus. In Roman mythology she was known as Proserpina.

The suite Perséphone is strangely Straussian in its writing for brass but then reverts to idyllic and smoothly undulating themes carrying a suggestion of Delius or Bantock when reflective. Early Roussel (Dans la forêt) and D’Indy (Jour d’été) are in much the same sound-world. This is a work of instinctive meandering and rhapsodic temperament. There are some very imaginative moments along the way including the murmuring strings half way through the first movement. The second movement provides some relief from the gloom of Perséphone’s enforced exile to the world of Hades.

Rob Barnett, 2022

For performance material please contact Tischer & Jagenberg, Köln.

Score No.



Repertoire Explorer




210 x 297 mm





Go to Top