Often referred to as the "French Bruckner", Albéric Magnard belatedly discovered his vocation as a composer after seeing a performance of Tristan and Isolde in Bayreuth. He is part of the French Revival that occurred at the beginning of the 20th century, alongside Franck, Saint-Saëns, d'Indy and Dukas.
Albéric Magnard entered the Paris Conservatoire when he was 20; he studied composition with Théodore Dubois, Massenet and, above all, Vincent d’Indy. In 1890, he wrote his first symphony; two years later he presented his lyric drama Yolande, which was not met with success.
From 1896 onwards, partially disabled by deafness, Magnard progressively cut himself off from the world. He continued to teach counterpoint at the Schola Cantorum in Paris where among his students stood Déodat de Séverac. In 1899, he organised a festival in Paris that drew attention to his music. At the very beginning of the 20th century, he left the capital and moved to Oise where he wrote his latest works.
He was killed at the beginning of World War I, in 1914, trying to fend the Germans off his domain in Oise. Albéric Magnard's life was marked by a number of commitments: he dedicated his fourth symphony to a feminist organisation and, as a Dreyfusard, resigned from the army after writing his Hymne à la justice in support of Captain Dreyfus.
Among his influences, he claimed an affiliation to Beethoven and Rameau. Destroyed during the war, his opera Guercoeur was reconstituted by Ropartz and performed posthumously at the Paris Opera in 1931.
Four landmark dates in the life of Albéric Magnard:
1886: Entered the Paris Conservatoire
1896: Early signs of loss of hearing
1899: Organised a music festival in Paris
1904: Released his Quartet which became a sensation
Six key works by Albéric Magnard:
Chant funèbre Op. 9 for Orchestra (1895)
Sonata for Violin and Piano (1901)
Symphony No. 3 (1902)
String Quartet (1903)
Trio for Piano (1905)
Symphony No. 4 (1913)