Arthur Honegger

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Alias: Oscar-Arthur Honegger


Born: 10 March 1892

Died: 27 November 1955

Biography: Born Oscar-Arthur Honegger (the first name was never used) in Le Havre, France, he initially studied harmony and violin in Paris, and after a brief period in Zurich, returned there to study with Charles Widor and Vincent d Indy. He continued to study through the 1910s, before writing the ballet Le dit des jeux du monde in 1918, generally considered to be his first characteristic work. In 1926 he married Andree Vaurabourg, a pianist and fellow student at the Paris Conservatoire. They had one daughter, Pascale, born in 1932. Honegger also had a son, Jean-Claude (1926-2003), with the singer Claire Croiza. Between World War I and World War II, Honegger was very prolific. He composed the music for Abel Gances epic 1927 film, Napoleon. He composed nine ballets and three vocal stage works, amongst other works. One of those stage works, Jeanne d Arc au bucher (1935), a dramatic oratorio, is thought of as one of his finest works. In addition to his works written alone, he collaborated with Jacques Ibert on both an opera, L Aiglon (1937), and an operetta. During this time period he also wrote Danse de la Chevre (1921), an essential piece of flute repertoire. Dedicated to Rene Le Roy and written for flute alone, this piece is lively and young, but with the same directness of all Honeggers work. Honegger had always remained in touch with Switzerland, his country of origin, but with the outbreak of the war and the invasion of the Nazis, he found himself trapped in Paris. He joined the French Resistance and was generally unaffected by the Nazis themselves, who allowed him to continue his work without too much interference. However, he was greatly depressed by the war. Between its outbreak and his death, he wrote his last four symphonies (numbers two to five), which are quite frequently performed and recorded. Of these, the third, subtitled Symphonie liturgique and with its three movements evoking the Latin Mass (Dies Irae, De profundis clamavi and Dona nobis pacem), is probably the best known. Written in 1946 just after the end of the war, it has parallels with Benjamin Brittens Sinfonia da Requiem of 1940. Arthur Honegger died at home of a heart attack on November 27, 1955 and was interred in the Cimetiere Saint-Vincent in the Montmartre Quarter of Paris. Far from reacting against the romanticism of Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss as the other members of Les Six did, Honeggers mature works show evidence of a distinct influence by it. Despite the differences in their styles, he and fellow Les Six member Darius Milhaud were close friends, having studied together at the Paris Conservatoire. Milhaud dedicated his fourth string quintet to Honeggers memory, while Francis Poulenc similarly dedicated his Clarinet Sonata. Honegger is currently featured on the Swiss twenty franc banknote.

View the Wikipedia article on Arthur Honegger.

List of choral works

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  • Le Roi David (1921/1923)
  • Cris du Monde (1931)
  • Jeanne d Arc au bucher (1935/1950)
  • La danse des morts (1940 (1938?))
  • Nicolas de Flue (1940)
  • Judith (1925)
  • Antigone (1927)
  • Laiglon (1937)
  • Les aventures du Raoi Pausole (1930)
  • La belle de Moudon (1931)
  • Les petites Cardinales (1938)
  • Verite-Mensonge (1920)
  • Skating Rink (1922)
  • Sous-marine (1925)
  • Rose de metal (1928)
  • Un oiseau blanc s est envole (1937)
  • 1. Sinfonie (1930)
  • 2. Sinfonie (1941)
  • 3. Sinfonie Symphonie liturgique (1946)
  • 4. Sinfonie Deliciae Basilienses (1946)
  • 5. Sinfonie Di tre re (1950)
  • Pastorale d ete (1920)
  • Pacific 231 (1923)
  • Rugby (1928)
  • Salute to the Isle of Man
  • Une Cantate de Noël (1953)

External links