Among all the sailors composers (Rimsky-Korsakov, Mariotte, Roussel), Jean Cras is the only one who fulfilled his double vocation as an officer in the French Navy—he was appointed Rear Admiral shortly before his death—and as a composer.
A follower of Henri Duparc who discouraged him from leaving the Navy, he very soon showed musical gifts, like all the members of his Brest-based family, for whom the practise of this art seemed to be a second nature.
A very sure craft, a personal style—though not revolutionary—, and a high conception of what music should be—a message from above, of which he would only be the writer—led Jean Cras to excel in all musical genres, from piano music (the suite Danze for instance) to opera (Polyphème, after Samain, Grand Prize of the City of Paris), and from chamber music (in particular a String Trio, his masterpiece, also a prize winner) to art songs (on texts by lesser popular poets like Tagore or Lucien Jacques) and orchestral pieces where his taste for a “clear line” and a sense of color work wonders in pages often recalling from the sea and Brittany.
Forgotten during the dark years of the serial music dictatorship, Jean Cras has been rediscovered over the last decade. A few books, the publication of unknown works, more and more frequent concerts and numerous recordings testify of this legitimate renewed interest for this endearing personality.
Cras, Jean. Trois Motets. Panis angelicus ; Ave Maria ; Ave verum, préface de Stéphane Topakian, Symétrie, 2016, 17 p. Cras, Jean, Bretaudeau, Isabelle (édition scientifique). Messe à quatre voix, Symétrie, 2015, 36 p. Cras, Jean, Bretaudeau, Isabelle (édition scientifique). Messe à quatre voix, Symétrie, 2014, 49 p. Cras, Jean. Largo en fa dièse mineur, Symétrie, 2014, 11 p. Cras, Jean. Largo en fa dièse mineur, Symétrie, 2014, 11 p. Cras, Jean. Largo en fa dièse mineur, Symétrie, 2014, 11 p. Cras, Jean. Premier Anniversaire, Symétrie, 2014, 11 p. Duparc, Henri, Topakian, Stéphane (édition scientifique). Lettres à Jean Cras, « le fils de mon âme », préface de Guy Sacre, Symétrie, 2010, 192 p.