Fauré’s liaisons


Gabriel Fauré’s apparently irresistible appeal to women led to the kind of extramarital liaisons that were far from uncommon in the Third Republic; Alfredo Casella, one of his pupils, described the composer as having “the large, languid, and sensual eyes of an impenitent Casanova.”

Fauré’s friends and associates were not insensitive to the delicate situations that this predilection incurred; for example, some the composer’s most talented students at the Paris Conservatoire were rumored to be his illegitimate children.

This according to Gabriel Fauré by Jessican Duchen (London: Phaidon, 2000, p. 63).

Today is Fauré’s 170th birthday! Above, Fauré and Gustave Bret with the pianist Marguerite Hasselmans, the composer’s mistress for the last 24 years of his life; below, Fauré’s Fantasie, op. 111, which Hasselmans premiered in 1919.


Filed under Romantic era

2 Responses to Fauré’s liaisons

  1. Joe

    While all aspects of composers’ lives are fodder for music (and non-music) historians, not all the content is admirable. How much nicer it would have been on the occasion of his birthday to remember something more admirable about this fine composer than his marital infidelities. At the very least, it must have been an ongoing humiliation to his wife, Marie Fremiet for whom he is said to have had great affection. Was this unfortunate self-interest at the core of all of Faure’s decisions in life? Is this how he wished to be remembered on his birthday?

    • (Jim Cowdery for RILM) I can’t venture to speak for a 19th-century Parisian composer, but, since Fauré was happy to appear in public and be photographed for posterity with Hasselmans and other paramours, it didn’t occur to me that he might not be happy to be remembered for this part of his life as well as for his music. For what it’s worth, other responses to this post have been positive, including reblogging by RILM’s sister organization RISM. Readers, please share your views!