Arthur Honegger by Harry Halbreich

By Harry Halbreich

Arthur Honegger (1892--1955), Swiss by way of nationality, French by means of schooling and place of abode, was once an immense composer of the 20 th century. even if he earned well known acclaim early in his profession, in his later years his always tonal musical language was once thought of superseded. His most important works comprise 5 symphonies, a wide physique of chamber song, and a number of other large-scale oratorios that mix choral and instrumental writing with declaimed narrative in a uniquely powerful method. HARDCOVER

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Living as he did in a large port town, he was fascinated from his earliest years by the sea and the ocean beyond. Although the mountains must have been in his blood, he would always prefer to spend his holidays by the seaside and was an excellent swimmer, never a mountaineer. When he was nine, Honegger had an experience that was important for his future. His parents took him to the opera for the first time. Like many other French provincial towns, Le Havre then had an opera season in which the regular repertory of the time was performed with whatever resources were at hand, augmented occasionally by a specially imported singer of renown.

Very soon he met a young man from Strasbourg a few months older than himself who, like him, made the weekly return journey between home and ParisCharles Münch, who was one day to be Honegger's most faithful interpreter. At the same time, Honegger became a counterpoint pupil of André Gédalge, in a class that was probably unrivaled in the world at that time, and just what he needed now that he had finished his harmony studies in Zurich. André Gédalge (18561926) was a strong-minded and individual personality.

From this serious test, both of them emerged enormously enhanced. If I had entertained the slightest doubt about Honegger's stature and his eminent place in the history of music, this study would have dispelled them. I had no intention, when I began, of writing a true biography, as this was something I had never done before. But the prodigious abundance of documentation I discovered, especially in the collections of Pascale Honegger and Paul SACHER, moved me to expand my project in this direction.

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