Henri Duparc is a French composer from the second half of the nineteenth century. He is best-known for his "mélodies", or art songs. There are only a small number of them, but their luminous harmonic progression and delicate, expressive lyricism have made them famous.
He studied piano and composition with César Franck. After composing a sonata for piano and cello, he published five songs in 1868, then piano pieces the following year. He met Vincent d'Indy and Alexis de Castillon. After the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, Duparc organised musical gatherings at his home, which were attended by Gabriel Fauré, Ernest Chausson, Alexis de Castillon, Camille Saint-Saëns and Emmanuel Chabrier, among others. This artistic emulation prompted Saint-Saëns to found the Société Nationale de Musique, with Duparc as secretary. Duparc was most productive during the 1870s, when he wrote more songs and a number of orchestral works (Suite d’Orchestre, Poème Nocturne, Suite de danses). In 1878, he founded the Concerts de Musique Moderne to promote contemporary composers. Suffering from paralysis, he stopped composing at the age of 38 and withdrew into his faith until his death.
Six landmark dates in the life of Henri Duparc:
• 1864: first work printed (but unpublished): Six rêveries for piano
• 1871: Camille Saint-Saëns founds the Société Nationale de Musique, with Duparc as secretary
• 1873-74: orchestral works (lost)
• 1878: creation of the "Concerts de musique moderne", which he co-directs with Vincent d'Indy
• 1883 and 1886: trips to Bayreuth
• 1906: pilgrimage to Lourdes, marking the beginning of Duparc's religious devotion
Six key songs by Duparc:
• L’invitation au voyage (Charles Baudelaire)
• Chanson triste (Jean Lahor)
• Extase (Jean Lahor)
• Lamento (Théophile Gautier)
• Phidylé (Leconte de Lisle)
• Soupir (Sully-Prudhomme)