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NEAR MINT CONDITION

EMMANUEL CHABRIER - COMPOSER

One-page autographed letter signed in the composer’s distinctive Bel Epoque hand to novelist Jules Clarétie, Paris, April 2nd, 1881.  Included with the letter is an original reverse blind stamped Bary Benque & Gauthier of Paris cabinet photograph of the composer.

 

Chabrier writes to his co-librettist and author of the book and play, “Les Muscadins” regarding revisions to their opera. 

 

Wednesday June 2 82

 

My dear Clarétie,

I had the greatest desire to see and to talk with you about the scenario subject of the 2nd and 3rd acts of Muscadins. I would recognize that it is necessary for me to defer to as you as much as possible.

Dear old friend, I beg you to present my respects to Madame Clarétie & always believe in your devotion,

5 rue Rochechouart

 

Chabrier (1841-1894) in 1880 resigned his position in government to devote himself completely to composition. He was very excited by Jules Clarétie’s (1840-1913) 1874 play, “Les Muscadins” based on his novel of the same name.  The composer considered the work of the same quality as the works of Alexandre Dumas Pére.  The story concerned gangs of well-dressed young men during the French Revolution called Muscadins.  They were known to wear musk cologne and carry big walking sticks to beat Jacobins.  (The First White Terror).  Chabrier proposed the work as an opera vehicle to the poet Armand Silvestre (1837-1901) with whom he had worked on the incomplete opera comique “Le Sabbat” in 1877.  Chabrier proposed the idea to Clarétie and he accepted with the caveat that he would be co-librettist.  Silvestre commenced on the libretto and Chabrier worked on the score. The composer was enthusiastic about the work, as it was to be his first grand opera. (He had previously written opera-comiques and operetta.) Unfortunately and despite all of this initial enthusiasm and work, his conversations with the Opera de Paris were negative as the subject matter did not interest them.  Chabrier, deeply disappointed soon found Clarétie lost interest in the project, was not working to finish the libretto and eventually he stopped responding to Chabrier’s attempts to contact him.  Chabrier bemoaned to his friends that if Saint-Saëns, or Massenet had proposed the project to the author, that he would have happily have worked with them based upon their reputations at the time.  Chabrier finally reached a level of respect amongst his colleagues in 1883 with the World Premiere of his orchestral rhapsody “España”.

 

Despite the setback, Chabrier would spend time during his short life working on and off on the opera.  Paralysis from syphilis would eventually take Chabrier’s life at the age of 54 and several years later it would claim his wife.  It was noted that one of the things found on Chabrier’s working pile at the time of his death was the incomplete score to “Les Muscadins”.

 

Original photographic images of Chabrier are quite scarce.

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