Ernest Chausson (January 20, 1855 ? June 10, 1899) was a French composer.
He was born in Paris into an upper middle-class family. He frequented the Paris salons, where he met such celebrities as Fantin-Latour, Odilon Redon, and Vincent d'Indy. He dabbled in writing and drawing before definitely deciding on his career.
He completed his law studies and became a lawyer at the court of appeals, but never completed his practical stage. In October of 1879, he began attending the classes of Jules Massenet at the Paris Conservatoire at age 25. He had already composed some piano pieces and songs, but the first manuscripts that have been preserved are those corrected by Massenet. He subsequently studied under César Franck.
In 1882 and 1883, he made the pilgrimage to Bayreuth, the first time with d'Indy to see the premier of Parsifal, and the second with his new bride Jeanne Escudier.
From 1886 until his death, he was secretary of the Société Nationale de Musique. He received many of the Paris artistic elite in his salon, including Duparc, Fauré, Debussy, Mallarmé, Turgenev, Albéniz, and Monet. He also assembled an important collection of impressionist art.
His work is commonly divided into three periods, the first of which is dominated by Massenet and exhibits fluid and elegant melodies. The second period dating from 1886 is marked by a more dramatic character, benefitting by his contacts with the artistic milieux in which he moved. The third period dates from his father's death in 1894 and was influenced by his reading of the symbolist poets and Russian literature, particularly Turgenev, Dostoyevsky, and Tolstoy.
He died in Limary, Seine-et-Oise, at the age of 44 as a result of a bicycle accident. He was buried in the Cimetière du Père Lachaise in Paris.
His work shows the influence of Massenet, Franck, Richard Wagner, and Johannes Brahms. His compositional style bridges the gap between Massenet and Franck and the later generation of French composers such as Claude Debussy.
He is primarily noted for his many songs; his orchestral output was comparatively small. Surviving works include a Symphony in B flat major, Poème for violin and orchestra (an important piece in the violin repertoire) and Poème de l'amour et de la mer for voice and orchestra.
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