Albéric Magnard

Information Biography and Works
Xl_avatar © Albéric Magnard

General Information

  • Birthdate:09/06/1865
  • Deathdate:03/09/1914
  • Nationality:France


The French composer Albéric Magnard, who was born in Paris on 9 June 1865 (son of Francis Magnard, editor-in-chief of Le Figaro) and died on 3 September 1914 at Baron in the Oise region, was initially destined for a career in law before discovering Wagner's Tristan und Isolde at Bayreuth. This shock led him to enrol at the Conservatoire, where he studied with Jules Massenet and Théodore Dubois, and later with Vincent d'Indy at the Schola Cantorum.

Driven by deep convictions and strong commitments (he was one of the supporters of Captain Dreyfus), Albéric Magnard was considered to be fierce and unsociable. A monographic concert he conducted in Paris on 14 May 1899, during which his Symphony No. 3 was premiered, revealed his music and aroused great interest in Parisian musical circles, which Magnard nevertheless neglected by retiring to his house in Baron, in the Oise, in 1904.

Albéric Magnardcomposed three operas: Yolande, premiered at La Monnaie in Brussels in 1892, followed by Guercoeur, an opera in three acts based on a libretto by the composer, written between 1897 and 1901 (the first performance was on 24 April 1931) and Bérénice, freely adapted from Racine, composed between 1905 and 1908 and premiered at the Opéra-Comique on 15 December 1911.

Albéric Magnarddied on 3 September 1914, at the outbreak of the First World War, while trying to defend his house in Baron, in the Oise, against German soldiers. He was shot and his house burnt down in retaliation. Most of his scores were lost, including all copies of Yolande and Acts I and III of Guercoeur, but the score of the opera was reconstituted by Guy Ropartz, a friend of the composer, on the basis of the piano-voice score published a few years earlier and his memories of the third act, which he had conducted at the Conservatoire de Nancy on 23 February 1908.