Friday, August 31, 2007

Arthur Honegger (1892-1955)


There is no doubt that the first requirement for a composer is to be dead.


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The Swiss born composer, Arthur Honegger, was for a time associated with the group of Paris composers known as Les Six (with Poulenc, Milhaud, Auric, Durey and Tailleferre). Honegger was a prolific composer in many genres, writing for the theatre and concert hall, as well as for the cinema. Honegger made some impression with his three symphonic movements, the first being the masterful Pacific 231 a portrait of a steam engine, followed by Rugby, and a third with the simple title Mouvement symphonique. Works of particular interest include the delightful Piano Concertino and the Concerto da camera for flute, cor anglais and strings and the charming Pastorale d'ete, scored for chamber orchestra.

The second and third of his five symphonies form part of the concert repertoire. The dramatic psalm Le Roi David, completed in 1921, is an impressive work, originally intended for theatre in the open, but transferred effectively to the concert-hall as an oratorio. Honegger's stage oratorio Jeanne d'Arc au bucher (Joan of Arc at the Stake), completed in 1935, using a text by Paul Claudel, is an equally moving work, powerful in its use of the human voice, whether in speech or song. [Adapted from Karadar]

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