Albéric Magnard

His full names were Lucien Denis Gabriel Albéric Magnard, but Grove brackets the first three names, so they are optional. The acute é in Albéric is not optional, however.

He was French, having been born in Paris in 1865. Whilst his father was editor of Le Figaro newspaper (and therefore rich, with powerful and influential friends), Albéric eschewed favouritism of any kind and insisted on making his own way in life, on his own merits. He studied music at the Paris Conservatoire with tutors such as Massenet, but also took private lessons with d'Indy for four years, from 1888 to 1892. His first symphony was eventually dedicated to d'Indy in consequence, as a token of the respect he held for the man.

His output is relatively small, but it includes four symphonies which Milhaud admired, declaring that they 'smelt of the French countryside'. It is generally said that he sounds like a slightly more modern version of César Franck, though some have also drawn parallels between his love of rich orchestration with that of Bruckner. Magnard's own preoccupation seems to have been with opera, in which he incorporated Wagnerian leitmotiv, but the works which most attract modern attention are his symphonies.

Magnard died in September 1914, having shot and killed one of the German troops who, advancing through the French countryside at the start of the First World War, had trespassed on his property at Baron, Oise (about 70km north east of Paris). They returned fire and ended up setting his house ablaze. The conflagration consumed him -and all of his unpublished scores. He was only 49.

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