Arthur Honegger and Family

Born Oscar-Arthur Honegger (the first name was never used) in Le Havre, France, he initially studied harmony and violin in Paris, and after a brief period in Zurich, returned there to study with Charles-Marie Widor and Vincent d'Indy. He continued to study through the 1910s, before writing the ballet Le dit des jeux du monde in 1918, generally considered to be his first characteristic work. In 1926 he married Andrée Vaurabourg, a pianist and fellow student at the Paris Conservatoire. They had one daughter, Pascale, born in 1932. Honegger also had a son, Jean-Claude (1926-2003), with the singer Claire Croiza.

In the early 1920s Honegger shot to fame with his "dramatic psalm" Le Roi David ("King David"), which is still in the choral repertoire. Between World War I and World War II, Honegger was very prolific. He composed the music for Abel Gance's epic 1927 film, Napoleon. He composed nine ballets and three vocal stage works, amongst other works. One of those stage works, Jeanne d'Arc au Bucher (1935), a "dramatic oratorio", is thought of as one of his finest works. In addition to his works written alone, he collaborated with Jacques Ibert on both an opera, L'Aiglon (1937), and an operetta. During this time period he also wrote Danse de la Chévre (1921), an essential piece of flute repertoire. Dedicated to René Le Roy and written for flute alone, this piece is lively and young, but with the same directness of all Honegger's work.

Honegger had always remained in touch with Switzerland, his parents' country of origin, but with the outbreak of the war and the invasion of the Nazis, he found himself unable to leave Paris. He joined the French Resistance and was generally unaffected by the Nazis themselves, who allowed him to continue his work without too much interference. However, he was greatly depressed by the war. Between its outbreak and his death, he wrote his last four symphonies (numbers two to five) which are among the most powerful symphonic works of the 20th century. Of these, the second, for strings, featuring a solo trumpet which plays a chorale tune by Johann Sebastian Bach in the final movement, and the third, subtitled Symphonie Liturgique with its three movements evoking the Requiem Mass (Dies Irae, De profundis clamavi and Dona nobis pacem), are probably the best known. Written in 1946 just after the end of the war, it has parallels with Benjamin Britten's Sinfonia da Requiem of 1940. In complete contrast with this work is the lyrical, nostalgic Symphony No. 4, subtitled "Deliciae Basilienses" ("The Delights of Basel") and written as a tribute to days of relaxation spent in that Swiss city during the war.

Honegger was widely known as a train enthusiast, and once notably said: "I have always loved locomotives passionately. For me they are living creatures and I love them as others love women or horses." His "mouvement symphonique" Pacific 231 (a depiction of a steam locomotive) gained him early notoriety in 1923.

His works were championed by his long time friend Georges Tzipine, who conducted the premiere recordings of some of them (Cris du Monde oratorio, Nicolas de Flue). In 1953 he wrote his last composition, A Christmas Cantata. Arthur Honegger died at home of a heart attack on 27 November 1955 and was interred in the Cimetiere Saint-Vincent in the Montmartre Quarter of Paris.

The principal elements of Honegger's style are: Bachian counterpoint, driving rhythms, melodic amplitude, highly coloristic harmonies, an impressionistic use of orchestral sonorities, and a concern for formal architecture. His style is weightier and more solemn than that of his colleagues in Les Six. Far from reacting against German romanticism as the other members of Les Six did, Honegger's mature works show evidence of a distinct influence by it. Despite the differences in their styles, he and fellow Les Six member Darius Milhaud were close friends, having studied together at the Paris Conservatoire. Milhaud dedicated his fourth string quintet to Honegger's memory, while Francis Poulenc similarly dedicated his Clarinet Sonata.

Wiki.

Year / Artwork Title Importance Medium
1917 Two Pieces for Organ (Fugue et Chorale) 4.00 stars CD
Comments:
Arturo Sacchetti - Organ
1920 Sarabande (Les Six) 4.00 stars CD
Comments:
Andrew West - Piano (Hyperion recording)
1920  Pastorale d'été
4.00 stars LP
Arthur Honegger - Pastorale d'été Comments:
Part of Mouvements Symphonique, composed between 1920-1924

New York Philharmonic cond. Leonard Bernstein
Arthur Honegger - Pastorale d'été Comments:
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra cond. Serge Baudo
1921  Le Roi David 4.00 stars LP
Arthur Honegger - Le Roi David Comments:
A Symphonic Psanlm
Made with the same public in mind as the Hollywood directors had with the 1950's reli-blockbusters

Suzanne Danco - Soprano
Solists
Suisse Romande Orchestra cond. Ernest Ansermet

1920-1923 Six Poésies de Jean Cocteau 4.00 stars CD
Comments:
Le nègre
Locutions
Souvenirs d'enfance
Ex-voto
Une danseuse
Madame

Florence Katz - Mezzo Soprano
Ensemble Erwartung cond. Bernard Desgraupes

1923   Pacific 231 4.00 stars LP
Arthur Honegger - Pacific 231 Comments:
Part of Mouvements Symphonique, composed between 1920-1924

The Pacific 231 is the most famous of the three. It is a musical impressionistic description of a heavy steam locomotive, used for international rail-traffic. It is kind of Honeggers  Chattanooga Choo Choo, which might even have been based on it. It fitted into the Bruitists movement.

New York Philharmonic cond. Leonard Bernstein
1923 Pacific 231 4.00 stars 2 CD
Comments:
Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra cond. Charles Dutoit
Arthur Honegger - Pacific 231 Comments:
Utah Symphony Orchestra cond. Maurice Abravanel
Arthur Honegger - Pacific 231 Comments:
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra cond. Serge Baudo
1923 Pacific 231 (Les Six) 4.00 stars CD
Comments:

Prague Radio Symjphonieorchester cond. Jiri Horvat

1923 Pacific 231 4.00 stars CD
Comments:
New York Philharmonic cond. Leonard Bernstein
1923   Chant de la Joie 4.00 stars LP
Arthur Honegger - Chant de la Joie Comments:

Czech Philharmonic Orchestra cond. Serge Baudo

1924 Concertino for Piano and Orchestra 4.00 stars CD
Comments:
Michael Rische - Piano
WDR Sinfonieorchester Koeln cond. Steven Sloane
1924   Rugby 4.00 stars LP
Arthur Honegger - Rugby Comments:
Part of Mouvements Symphonique, composed between 1920-1924

New York Philharmonic cond. Leonard Bernstein
1924 Rugby 4.00 stars 2 CD
Comments:
Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra cond. Charles Dutoit
1924 Rugby 4.00 stars CD
Comments:
New York Philharmonic cond. Leonard Bernstein
1925  Judith 3.50 stars LP
Arthur Honegger - Judith Comments:
Lyrical Drama on a biblical thema

Solists
Salt Lake Symphonic Choir
Utah Symphony Orchestra cond. Maurice Abravanel
1930 Symphony No 1 4.00 stars 2 CD
Comments:
Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra cond. Charles Dutoit
1938 Jeanne d'Arc au bücher 4.50 stars LP
Arthur Honegger - Jeanne d'Arc au bücher Comments:
Oratorium on text by Paul Claudel

Solists
Jeanne Loriod - Ondes Martinot
London Symphony Orchestra cond. Seiji Ozawa
Arthur Honegger - Jeanne d'Arc au bücher Comments:
QUADROPHONIC RECORDING

Supraphon magic!

Solists
Françoise Deslogères - Ondes Martinot
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra cond. Serge Baudo

1941 Symphonie No 2 4.00 stars LP
Arthur Honegger - Symphonie No 2 Comments:
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra cond. Serge Baudo
Arthur Honegger - Symphonie No 2 Comments:
Berliner Philharmoniker cond. Herbert von Karajan
1941 Symphonie No 2 4.00 stars 2 CD
Comments:
Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra cond. Charles Dutoit
1945-1946 Symphonie No 3 (Lliturgique) 4.00 stars CD
Arthur Honegger - Symphonie No 3[Lliturgique] Comments:
Symphonieorchester des Bayerische Rundfunk cond. Charles Dutoit
Arthur Honegger - Symphonie No 3[Lliturgique] Comments:
Berliner Philharmoniker cond. Herbert von Karajan
Arthur Honegger - Symphonie No 3[Lliturgique] Comments:
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra cond. Serge Baudo
1945-1946 Symphonie No 3 (Lliturgique) 4.00 stars 2 CD
Comments:
Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra cond. Charles Dutoit
1946 Symphonie No 4 4.00 stars LP
Arthur Honegger - Symphonie No 4 Comments:
Orchestre National de L'ORTF cond. Charles Münch
Arthur Honegger - Symphonie No 4 Comments:
Orchestre National de L'ORTF cond. Charles Münch

Same recording as above, remastered for CD

1946 Symphonie No 4 4.00 stars 2 CD
Comments:
Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra cond. Charles Dutoit
1951 Symphonie No 5 (Di Tre Re) 4.00 stars CD
Arthur Honegger - Symphonie No 5 [Di Tre Re] Comments:
Symphonieorchester des Bayrischen Rundfunk cond. Charles Dutoit
Arthur Honegger - Symphonie No 5 (Di Tre Re) Comments:
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra cond. Serge Baudo (LP)
1951 Symphonie No 5 (Di Tre Re) 4.00 stars CD
Comments:
Lamoureux Orchestra cond. Igor Markevitch
1951 Symphonie No 5 (Di Tre Re) 4.00 stars 2 CD
Comments:
Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra cond. Charles Dutoit
Compilation Piano Music 4.00 stars LP
Arthur Honegger - Piano Music Comments:
Trois Pièces (1915-1919)
Toccata et Variations (1916)
Set pièces Brèves (1919-1920)
Le cahier romand (1921-1923)
Hommage à Albert Roussel (1928)
Prélude, arioso et fugette sur le nom de BACH (1932)
Deux Esquisses (1943)
Souvenir de Chopin (1947)

Jürg von Vintschger - Piano