Henri Sauguet was born in Bordeaux. Because of the First World War he was unable to attend the conservatory of music but received Canteloube’s advice before taking private lessons with Koechlin in Paris. Encouraged by Darius Milhaud, he is in close contact with Erik Satie and participates to the École d’Arcueil. After his first buμo work, Le Plumet du Colonel (1924), he meets Diaghilev who commissions La Chatte, created by the Ballets russes in Monte Carlo in 1927. Twenty- four other ballets will follow, among them the famous Forains (1945), La Rencontre, Les Mirages, La Dame aux camélias, Le Prince et le Mendiant (Prix Italia 1965).
In the meantime Sauguet wrote the opera bouμe La Contre- basse on a libretto by the young Henri Troyat and patiently composed La Chartreuse de Parme which obtained recognition at the Paris Opera in March 1939. In 1944, the Opéra-Comique gives La Gageure imprévue from Sedaine and the Aix-en-Provence Festival schedules for its 1954 season Les Caprices de Marianne from Musset. Le Pain des autres, composed between 1967 and 1979, from Tourgueniev has remained unpublished. In 1978, he writes the score of a musical, Boule de Suif, from Maupassant and in 1981 an opera for children, Tistou les-pouces-verts, from the tale by Maurice Druon.
For all that, he does not neglect the concert music: four symphonies, symphonic poems, cantatas, oratorios, concertos and chamber music (quintets, quartets, trios, duets). All his life long, he wrote for the piano and composed a great number of art songs which show his profond aƒnity with poetry and poets (Shakespeare, Labé, Mallarmé, Baudelaire, Valéry, Rilke, Tagore, Éluard, Max Jacob, Raphaël Cluzel…).
His intellectual curiosity without any aesthetic bias led him on all the paths of creation, even the most unexpected ones (he composed works of concrete music). He never turned down any of the parts a musician may play as a citizen and wrote a great deal of music for the theater, the cinema, the radio and the television.
(translation Philippe Do)
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