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Essential D'Indy

Vincent d'Indy's output has been described as "music for incurable romantics" – aren't we all! Hardly a household name today, this French composer was a major figure in the Parisian musical world in the final decades of the 19th century and into the 20th.Read more…

D'Indy was born into an aristocratic family in 1851 and his teachers included César Franck, whose biographer he became. Later he founded and headed the Schola Cantorum in Paris, a place of musical learning and research ("conservatory" is too narrow a term) whose alumni included Albert Roussel, Erik Satie and Cole Porter. His large output includes works in all genres, often on a large scale, such as the Wagnerian opera 'Fervaal' or the brooding Second Symphony, one of the most significant French examples of the genre, where D'Indy infuses the technique of thematic transformations and cyclic form learnt from Franck with glowing orchestral colours and energetic rhythms. The triptych 'Jour d’été à la montagne' is unfortunate to be (only just) overshadowed as musical landscape painting by Claude Debussy's 'La mer' from the same period, but even chamber works such as the Piano Quartet and Clarinet Trio open up unexpectedly broad vistas. On a smaller scale some of the songs, the String Sextet's scherzo with its eerie string harmonics, and 'Falconaro', depicting a little steam train chuffing round a Mediterranean bay, are equally successful. No mean performer, d'Indy cut piano rolls of some of his piano miniatures, and some two years before his death in 1931 conducted a recording of his tone-poem 'Le camp de Wallenstein' for the Pathé company.

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