Date of Award
Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)
Gabriel Fauré’s La bonne chanson, Op. 61 is a song cycle of nine songs. The cycle was composed between 1892 and 1894, while Fauré was having an affair with an amateur singer, Emma Bardac. Fauré’s selection of Paul Verlaine’s poems reflects his own emotional journey at the time. Musically, Fauré utilized several recurring elements to bring coherence to the cycle. However, while many sources focus on the occurrences of these themes, they do not examine whether or not these musical elements have a connection to the overall story which is integral to the cycle.
Therefore, I was motivated to analyze this cycle with two goals. The first goal is to uncover the hidden story suggested by Fauré’s selection and order of Verlaine’s poems. The second goal is to investigate connections between the recurring musical themes and the story.
I have identified two central ideas that define the hidden story of La bonne chanson. The first central idea is the narrator’s hope to be guided by his beloved. The second central idea is his hope of new life. In the music, there are six recurring musical elements that depict and support these two central ideas. In other words, under Fauré’s organization of song sequence and the recurring musical elements, one can see that the narrator’s hopes of his beloved’s guidance and new life are fulfilled.
In this paper, I will first examine how the two central ideas stem from the lives of Verlaine and Fauré. Next, I will introduce the six recurring musical elements that support these central ideas. Then, in my analysis, I will examine how these six elements depict the two central ideas that drive the development of the story. In the end, I will provide performance insights for musicians who are preparing or teaching this cycle. In conclusion, this paper aims to provide collaborative pianists and vocalists with a better appreciation of the cycle’s overall structure and musical elements in order to inspire them to give a more meaningful performance.
Lui, Kwok Wai, "Gabriel Faure’s La bonne chanson: A Journey of Love and Rebirth" (2019). Keyboard Graduate Theses & Dissertations. 6.