Albert Roussel  
Albert Roussel
Albert Charles Paul Marie Roussel (5 April 1869 – 23 August 1937) was a French composer. He spent seven years as a midshipman, turned to music as an adult, and became one of the most prominent French composers of the interwar period. His early works were strongly influenced by the impressionism of Debussy and Ravel, while he later turned toward neoclassicism.


Born in Tourcoing (Nord), Roussel's earliest interest was not in music but mathematics. He spent time in the French Navy, and in 1889 and 1890 he served on the crew of the frigate Iphigénie and spent several years in Cochinchina. These travels affected him artistically, as many of his musical works would reflect his interest in far-off, exotic places.

After resigning from the Navy in 1894, he began to study harmony in Roubaix, first with Julien Koszul (grandfather of composer Henri Dutilleux), who encouraged him to pursue his formation in Paris with Eugène Gigout, then continued his studies until 1908 at the Schola Cantorum de Paris where one of his teachers was Vincent d'Indy. While studying, he also taught. His students included Erik Satie and Edgard Varèse.

During World War I, he served as an ambulance driver on the Western Front. Following the war, he bought a summer house in Normandy and devoted most of his time there to composition.

Starting in 1923, another of Roussel's students was Bohuslav Martinu, who dedicated his Serenade for Chamber Orchestra (1930) to Roussel.

His sixtieth birthday was marked by a series of three concerts of his works in Paris that also included the performance of a collection of piano pieces, Homage à Albert Roussel, written by several composers, including Ibert, Poulenc, and Honegger.

Roussel died in the village (commune) of Royan (Charente-Maritime), in western France, in 1937, and was buried in the churchyard of Saint Valery in Varengeville-sur-Mer, Normandy.


Roussel was by temperament a classicist. While his early work was strongly influenced by impressionism, he eventually found a personal style which was more formal in design, with a strong rhythmic drive, and with a more distinct affinity for functional tonality than found in the work of his more famous contemporaries Debussy, Ravel, Satie, and Stravinsky.

Roussel's training at the Schola Cantorum, with its emphasis on rigorous academic models such as Palestrina and Bach, left its mark on his mature style, which is characterized by contrapuntal textures. Roussel's orchestration is rather heavy compared to the subtle and nuanced style of other French composers like Gabriel Fauré or Claude Debussy. He preserved something of the romantic aesthetic in his orchestral works, which sets him apart from Stravinsky and Les Six. However, Roussel's music can hardly be called heavy when compared with the sound of the German romantic orchestral tradition represented by Anton Bruckner and Gustav Mahler.

He was also interested in jazz and wrote a piano-vocal composition entitled Jazz dans la nuit, which was similar in its inspiration to other jazz-inspired works such as the second movement of Ravel's Violin Sonata, or Milhaud's La Création du Monde.

Roussel's most important works were the ballets Le festin de l'araignée, Bacchus et Ariane, and Aeneas and the four symphonies, of which the Third in G minor, and the Fourth in A major, are highly regarded and epitomize his mature neoclassical style. His other works include numerous ballets, orchestral suites, a piano concerto, a concertino for cello and orchestra, a psalm setting for chorus and orchestra, incidental music for the theatre, and much chamber music, solo piano music, and songs.

Critical reception
In 1929, one critic described Roussel's search for his own voice:

Albert Roussel for a long period sought his true self among varied and contradictory influences. He seemed to waver between the tendencies of Cesar Franck and Vincent d'Indy and those of Claude Debussy. The violin sonata, the trio, the Poème de la Forêt derived more or less directly from the Franckian school, the Festin de l'Araignée and the Evocations from Debussyan impressionism; and yet the hand of Albert Roussel alone could have written this music, at once so subtle and so firmly fixed in its design....With Padmâvatî, the new Roussel begins to realize is possibilities and his individual technique....Then came works of perfect homogeneity and notable originality. The composer no longer is seeking his way—he has found it. The Prélude pour une Fête de Printemps, the suite in F, the concerto, and finally the Psalm No. 80 are the masterpieces which mark the last stage of this great artist.

Arturo Toscanini included the suite from the ballet Le festin de l'araignée in one of his broadcast concerts with the NBC Symphony Orchestra. Rene Leibowitz recorded that suite in 1952 with the Paris Philharmonic, and Georges Prêtre recorded it with the Orchestre National de France for EMI in 1984.

One brief assessment of his career says:

Roussel will never attain the popularity of Debussy or Ravel, as his work lacks sensuous appeal....yet he was an important and compelling French composer. Upon repeated listening, his music becomes more and more intriguing because of its subtle rhythmic vitality. He can be alternately brilliant, astringent, tender, biting, dry, and humorous. His splendid Suite for Piano (Op. 14, 1911) shows his mastery of old dance forms. The ballet scores Le Festin de l'araignée (The Spider's Feast Op. 17, 1913) and Bacchus et Ariane (Op. 43, 1931) are vibrant and pictorial, while the Third and Fourth Symphonies are among the finest contributions to the French symphony.

One 21st-century critic, in the course of discussing the Third Symphony, wrote:

For the general public, Roussel remains almost famous, his work just beyond the pool of repertory universally drawn from. His music, said another way, walks the line between the memorable and the impossible to forget. The writing sets unrelated keys against one another but eventually seeks strong tonal centers; in other words, it can bark and growl but in the end wags its tail. The Vivace movement is a carnival of exuberant energies. Roussel was more than just an anti-19th-century dissident.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Albert Roussel - Symphony No. 2 (1920)
I. Lent - 00:00
II. Modere - 17:39
III. Tres Lent - 27:24
Albert Roussel: Padmâvatî (1923)
Albert Roussel (1869-1937): Padmâvatî, Opera-ballet in 2 Atti su un poema di Louis Laloy (1923).

Atto I°:

I. Prelude
II. Scène I. Le Sultan des Mogols a passé la troisième porte [05:05]
III. Scène II. A! A!...Souverain d'un peuple florissant [11:52]
IV. Danse Guerriére [15:27]
V. Danse des femmes esclaves [19:39]
VI. Entrée et danses des femmes du Palais:"Ce sont les Femmes du Palais" [23:47]
VII. Scène III. Elle monte au ciel où rêve le Printemps [35:44]
VIII. Scène IV. Aux armes...il est trop tard [46:04]

Atto II°:

IX. Prelude [51:30]
X. Scène I. Om! Siva...Siva, lasse ma voix... [54:04]
XI. Scène II. Padmâvatî! [1:01:34]
XII. Scène III. Ah!...Ô mes soeurs fidèles [1:12:23]
XIII. Pantomime [1:18:56]
XIV: Danse et Pantomime [1:19:40]
XV. Cérémonie funèbre: Dans la Nuit flamboyante, la Nuit conduite par la mort! [1:23:41]

Padmâvatî, épouse de Ratan-Sen: Rita Gorr
Ratan-Sen, Roi de Tchitor: Albert Lance
Alaouddin, Sultan des Mongols: Gérard Souzay
Nakanti, Jeune Fille de Tchitor: Jeanne Berbié
La Brahmane: Gérard Dunan
Gora, Intendant du Palais: Neylson Taylor
Badal: Philip Langridge
Sentry: Edward Byles
Un Pretre: Franklyn Whitelery
Premiere femme du Palais: Marion Dodd
Seconde femme du Palais: Muriel Dickinson
Un guerrier: Leslie Fry
Un Marchand: Cyril Sommers
Un Artisan: Gordon Farrall

BBC Chorus
London Symphony Orchestra diretti da Jean Martinon.

Registrazione Live: London Colyseum, 6 Luglio 1969.

Albert Roussel - Suite pour piano, Op. 14
Suite for piano in F sharp minor, Op. 14 (1909-10)

I. Prélude
II. Sicilienne
III. Bourrée
IV. Ronde

Piano: Jean Boguet

Albert Roussel : Concerto pour piano
Interprété par Claude Helfer (piano) et l'orchestre des Cento soli sous la direction de Serge Baudo.
1e mvt (00:00)
2e mvt (04:15)
3e mvt (13:28)
Albert Roussel - Bacchus et Ariane
Brussels Philharmonic
Stéphane Denève, conductor
Albert Roussel - Bacchus et Ariane Suite nr.2, op.43
Recorded at Studio4 of Flagey (Brussels, Belgium)
Albert Roussel : Symphony 3
00.00 - Allegro Vivace
05.50 - Adagio
16.06 - Vivace
19.10 - Allegro Con Spirito
Royal Scottish National Orchestra- Stéphane Denève
Albert Roussel "Petite Suite" Celibidache
Petite Suite for orchestra, op 39
by Albert Roussel
I. Aubade
III. Mascarade
RIAS Symphonie-Orchester
Sergiu Celibidache, conductor
Berlin 1945
Albert Roussel: Sinfonietta for String Orchestra, Op. 52
Sinfonietta for String Orchestra, Op. 52: I. Allegro molto - II. Andante - III. Allegro" by Sofia Chamber Orchestra & Vassil Kazandjiev
Albert Roussel - Concert pour petit orchestre Op.34 (1926-27)
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