Alberic Magnard

Magnard was born to a financially secure family which afforded him the opportunity to travel and study in a number of diverse and artistically rich settings. He received a law degree in 1887 but decided to spend his life in the musical quest for classical perfection.

The structure of his works show a pedantic nature that only an austere and recalcitrant individual seems to master. All of his music was well constructed and his compositions showed the signs of one who has most successfully resolved the fugal and canonic forms; all of his major works contain at least one fugue or canon. This appeared to be an obsession with his quest for perfection. Though he was influenced by Wagner, d'Indy -- who was his teacher for four years -- Beethoven and Gluck, only the latter exemplified the clarity Magnard sought.

Most of his compositions in the early years were heavily arranged though the Second Symphony and a set of seven piano works demonstrate progress and imagery. Operas, including "Yolande," "Guercoeur," and "Berenice," only gathered a small following. He was despondent over a lack of being appreciated and loathed advertisements. At his own expense Magnard published his own opus eight through twenty. Characteristically Magnard's music can be described as sincere, intense, severe and quite formal. This formality often hid the fact that he was constantly attempting to yield great dramatic features. Only "Berenice" came close to fulfilling Magnard's own goals.

Keith Johnson, All Music Guide

Year / Artwork Title Importance Medium
1889-1890 Symphony No 1 3.50 stars 3CD
Alberic Magnard Comments:
Malmo Symphony Orchestra cond. Thomas Sanderling
1892-1893 Symphony No 2 3.50 stars 3CD
Alberic Magnard Comments:
Malmo Symphony Orchestra cond. Thomas Sanderling
1895 Chant Funèbre 3.50 stars LP
Alberic Magnard Comments:
Orchestre du Capitole de Toulouse cond. Michel Plasson
1895-1896 Symphony No 3 3.50 stars 3CD
Alberic Magnard Comments:
Malmo Symphony Orchestra cond. Thomas Sanderling
1902 Symphony No 3 4.00 stars LP
Alberic Magnard Comments:
The symphony is not a real masterpiece, but very charming and unassuming. Magnard had more succes than was due, because he was the son of the most influential newspaper-publisher in France. You can't have everything! He was suffering from deafness and depression. Magnard was killed by the German army in WW1 while he single-handed defended his house. A complex and sympathetic figure.

The recording is by Suisse Romande Orchestra with Ernest Ansermet

1902-11903 String Quartet 3.50 stars CD
Comments:
Via Nova Quartet
1912-1913 Symphonie No 4 3.50 stars LP
Alberic Magnard Comments:
Orchestre du Capitole de Toulouse cond. Michel Plasson
1912-1913 Symphony No 4 3.50 stars 3CD
Alberic Magnard Comments:
Malmo Symphony Orchestra cond. Thomas Sanderling