The two brothers Hillemacher worked and published together in the manner of the frères Goncourts. They adopted the name Paul-Lucien Hillemacher for their collective compositions. Both were students at the Conservatoire: Paul studied with Bazin and was awarded the Prix de Rome in 1876 for his Judith
; Lucien studied with Massenet and won the Prix de Rome in 1880 for his cantata Fingal
. A number of their stage works were produced at the Opéra, the Opéra-Comique and the Châtelet in Paris, at La Monnaie in Brussels, and a pantomime, One for Two
, at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London in 1894. Their Vingt mélodies
(1882) is a volume of grace and accomplishment. There are three Armand Silvestre settings, as well as appearances by Hugo, Banville and André Chénier among others. This collection must have seemed a good deal more important to the song enthusiasts of the time (the young Debussy for example) than it appears to the modern musicologist; but in musical terms there is nothing here to indicate that the oblivion of the Hillemachers is a fate deserved—on the contrary, our curiosity about this pair of musical Goncourts is further aroused.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 2006
English: Richard Stokes