Main content
Sorry, this episode is not currently available

A Bouillabaisse

Donald Macleod explains how the demise of Chabrier's final comic opera Le roi malgre lui on the Paris stage saw the composer's reputation spread in Germany.

The demise of Chabrier's brilliant comic opera, Le roi malgré lui, on the Paris stage sees the composer's reputation spread in Germany.

Chabrier must surely be one of the most likeable fellows to have graced this earth. It seems no-one had a bad word to say about him. His wide circle of friends included all the leading musicians, writers, poets and painters of the day. Chabrier owned a remarkable collection of impressionist paintings including several by Manet, who produced the best known portrait of the composer.

Emmanuel Chabrier's life slots into a fascinating point in French musical history. When he was born in 1841, Berlioz was already thirty-eight and famous, Saint-Saëns was six, while the rising stars of the future, Massenet and Fauré, were not yet born. Despite Wagner's dominance, and indeed Chabrier's own reverence for the German composer, Chabrier's music retains a staunchly Gallic individuality, with critics subsequently paying tribute to him as a "direct forerunner of the modern school." The reason for this may well relate, at least in part, to his studies. Chabrier was largely self-taught, and although he was better educated than most musical amateurs, he never followed the accepted route into the Paris Conservatoire or a similar institute. He trained first in law, only taking up full time composition in his thirties.

Today Donald Macleod looks at Chabrier's final comic opera, a work in which the riches and innovation of the music managed to overcome the deficiencies of a confusing plot and weak libretto. Fellow composer, Ravel, declared that its premiere had "changed the direction of French harmony."

Danse slave. Allegro con brio
Orchestre de la Suisse Romande
Neeme Järvi, conductor

Ode à la musique
Barbara Hendricks, soprano
Toulouse-Midi-Pyrénées Womens' Chorus
Capitole Toulouse Orchestra
Michel Plasson, conductor

Suite pastorale
Orchestra de la Suisse Romande
Neeme Järvi, conductor

Introduction & choeur dansé (Act 2, Le roi malgré lui)
Ah! Hurrah!
Chris de Moor, bass, Laski
Chorus of Radio France
New Philharmonic Orchestra of Radio France
Charles Dutoit, conductor

O rêve éteint! Réveils funèbres (Act 3, Le roi malgré lui)
Barbara Hendricks, soprano, Minka
Isabel Garcisanz, soprano, Alexina
New Philharmonic Orchestra of Radio France
Charles Dutoit, conductor.

1 hour

Music Played

  • Emmanuel Chabrier

    Le Roi malgre lui - opera comique in 3 acts

    Conductor: Neeme Järvi. Performer: Suisse Romande Orchestra.
    • CHANDOS.
    • CHSA 5122.
  • Emmanuel Chabrier

    Le Roi Malgre Lui - Act 3, no16 Danse slave

    Orchestra: Suisse Romande Orchestra. Conductor: Neeme Järvi.
    • CHANDOS : CHSA 5122.
    • CHANDOS.
    • 15.
  • Emmanuel Chabrier

    Le Roi Malgre Lui - Act 3, no16 Danse slave

    Orchestra: Suisse Romande Orchestra. Conductor: Neeme Järvi.
    • CHANDOS : CHSA 5122.
    • CHANDOS.
    • 15.
  • Emmanuel Chabrier

    Ode a la musique vers. for soprano, female chorus & orchestra

    Conductor: Michel Plasson. Performer: Barbara Hendricks. Performer: Toulouse Capitole Orchestra. Performer: Midi-Pyrenees Regional Chorus.
    • EMI.
    • CDC 754-004-2.
  • Emmanuel Chabrier

    Ode A La Musique

    Performer: Toulouse Capitole Orchestra. Performer: Midi-Pyrenees Regional Chorus. Conductor: Michel Plasson. Singer: Barbara Hendricks.
    • EMI : CDC 754-004-2.
    • EMI.
    • 3.
  • Emmanuel Chabrier

    Ode A La Musique

    Performer: Toulouse Capitole Orchestra. Performer: Midi-Pyrenees Regional Chorus. Conductor: Michel Plasson. Singer: Barbara Hendricks.
    • EMI : CDC 754-004-2.
    • EMI.
    • 3.
  • Emmanuel Chabrier

    Suite pastorale for orchestra [from 4 of '10 Pieces pittoresques' for piano]

    Conductor: Neeme Järvi. Performer: Suisse Romande Orchestra.
    • CHANDOS.
    • CHSA 5122.
  • Emmanuel Chabrier

    Suite Pastorale

    Orchestra: Suisse Romande Orchestra. Conductor: Neeme Järvi.
    • CHANDOS : CHSA 5122.
    • CHANDOS.
    • 7.
  • Emmanuel Chabrier

    Suite Pastorale

    Orchestra: Suisse Romande Orchestra. Conductor: Neeme Järvi.
    • CHANDOS : CHSA 5122.
    • CHANDOS.
    • 7.
  • Emmanuel Chabrier

    Le Roi malgre lui - opera comique in 3 acts

    Conductor: Charles Dutoit. Performer: Chris de Moor. Performer: French Radio Chorus. Performer: French Radio New Philharmonic Orchestra.
    • ERATO.
    • 2292-45792-2.
  • Emmanuel Chabrier

    Le Roi Malgre Lui - Act 2

    Singer: Chris de Moor. Choir: French Radio Chorus. Orchestra: French Radio New Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: Charles Dutoit.
    • ERATO : 2292-45792-2.
    • ERATO.
    • 10.
  • Emmanuel Chabrier

    Le Roi Malgre Lui - Act 2

    Singer: Chris de Moor. Choir: French Radio Chorus. Orchestra: French Radio New Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: Charles Dutoit.
    • ERATO : 2292-45792-2.
    • ERATO.
    • 10.
  • Ludwig van Beethoven

    Symphony No 5

    Conductor: Ainars Rubikis. Orchestra: Royal Northern Symphonia.
  • Emmanuel Chabrier

    Le Roi malgre lui - opera comique in 3 acts

    Conductor: Charles Dutoit. Performer: Barbara Hendricks. Performer: Isabel Garcisanz. Performer: French Radio New Philharmonic Orchestra.
    • ERATO.
    • 2292-45792-2.
  • Emmanuel Chabrier

    Le Roi Malgre Lui - Act 3, no.18 Nocturne a deux voix (O reve eteint!)

    Singer: Barbara Hendricks. Singer: Isabel Garcisanz. Orchestra: French Radio New Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: Charles Dutoit.
    • ERATO : 2292-45792-2.
    • ERATO.
    • 8.

Broadcasts

Composers A to Z

Composers A to Z

Visit the extensive audio archive of Radio 3 programmes about Composers and their works.

Who knew? Five eye-opening stories from Composer of the Week

Who knew? Five eye-opening stories from Composer of the Week

The production team reflects on 5 of Donald Macleod’s best stories from the last 20 years

A man out of time – why Parry's music and ideas were at odds with his image...

A man out of time – why Parry's music and ideas were at odds with his image...

The composer of Jerusalem was very far from the conservative figure his image suggests.

Five reasons why we love Parry's Jerusalem

Five reasons why we love Parry's Jerusalem

What is the strange power of Jerusalem which makes strong men weep?

Composer Help Page

Composer Help Page

Find resources and contacts for composers from within the classical music industry.