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Jules Cressonnois

born: 1823
died: 1883
country: France

Cressonnois was initially trained as a military musician and became director of music of the Garde impériale and the Gendarmerie. His first published compositions—dance music—date from 1851 and his Chapelle et Bachaumont was performed at the Opéra-Comique in 1858. The best of his work is to be found in four volumes of mélodies entitled Harmonies and composed between 1861 and 1865. As a friend of Charles Baudelaire, Cressonnois had the distinction of being the first composer to set poems from Les fleurs du mal to music. His L’invitation au voyage dates from 1863, some seven years before the settings of Duparc and Chabrier. This suggests that the composer had read the second edition (1861) of these celebrated poems. The influence of Baudelaire is also to be found in a suite of waltzes from 1868 with the title Haschisch. The composer was also a friend of Théodore de Banville, whose poems are to found among the Cressonnois songs, as are those of Leconte de Lisle (Annie and Jane, the latter also set by Debussy), Théophile Gautier (Coquetterie posthume, another Debussy double), Lamartine, Alfred de Musset and Victor Hugo (an Adieux à l’hôtesse arabe to compare with Bizet’s). For a song composer of this time (the schoolboy Fauré was just beginning to write mélodies in the early 1860s) Cressonnois displays a rare degree of literary sensibility in his selection of texts.

from notes by Graham Johnson 2006
English: Richard Stokes

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