Happy Birthday Gabriel Urbain Fauré

12 May 1845 – 4 November 1924.  
Faure at 21, 55, and 75

I won't bore you with a lot of musicological details other than Faure was good from the start and stayed good as a composer through his life.  Only when he started to go deaf around the time of WWI, did he begin to withdraw and become more ... well, not himself.  I wrote about him in a 
short piece here and on the occasion of his birthday .... one more time.

He had a ton of personal faults as most of scandal ridden Paris would recognize and he crossed paths with just about everyone who was anything in perhaps the most imaginative time in French music (1880-1910).  Sufficient to say that everyone like his work.

When he was a kid, growing up in SW France, he is said to go to a local chapel to play a harmonium....something of a parlor organ.  Harmoniums I know give off a soft almost sweet sound and through the use of foot pumps, can hold out tones until you legs give out.  I can imagine him in St. Stephens Chapel in Pamiers, in that austere and rather small space, learn that wonderful instant when the tones you are producing blend in perfectly to the sounds echoing in the room,  It is hard to explain but there is a special sound where the room you are playing in almost becomes another musical instrument; not just in reverberation and echo but in something a little more transcendental.  Anyway you'll know it when you hear it.

In Paradisium from the Requiem
Much of his most famous music has that quality; of one note hanging on to the next and a perfect example of that is from his requiem that he composed in 1897-90. Debussy, one of personal favs, was writing much in the same sound (Claire de Lune for instance), and it shows on the page just as well as it sounds in the ear.    

I've spent the better part of half a century looking at, learning and listening to music like this.  It casts a certain spell to my ears - just hanging in the air...a harmonium in a chapel in the middle of no where with a youngster discovering a perfect sound.