Gabriel Fauré is often referred to as one of the greatest French composers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. But I wonder if that description goes far enough. It’s certainly true that his contributions to French music, especially in the areas of chamber music, piano music, and music for the voice -- are remarkable. But they’re remarkable because they’re wonderful music, not because they’re French.
It’s all very well to be aware of a composer’s nationality and of the specific cultural forces that have influenced him, but sometimes the influence goes in the other direction. Perhaps we should consider this: that it may be more accurate, instead of saying that Fauré sounds French, to say that French music of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries sounds like Fauré. In any case, if it were up to me I would simply say that Fauré deserves recognition as one of the greatest composers of that era, period.
A Minute with Miles is a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation.