Henri Duparc (composer)

Eugène Marie Henri Fouques Duparc (21 January 1848 12 February 1933) was a French composer of the late Romantic period.


Son of Charles Fouques-Duparc and Amélie de Guaita. Henri Fouques-Duparc was born in Paris. He studied piano with César Franck at the Jesuit College in the Vaugirard district and became one of his first composition pupils. Following military service in the Franco-Prussian War, he married Ellen MacSwinney, from Scotland, on 9 November 1871. In the same year, he joined Saint-Saëns and Romain Bussine to found the Société Nationale de Musique.

Duparc is best known for his 17 mélodies ("art songs"), with texts by poets such as Baudelaire, Gautier, Leconte de Lisle and Goethe.

A mental illness, diagnosed at the time as "neurasthenia", caused him abruptly to cease composing at age 37, in 1885. He devoted himself to his family and his other passions, drawing and painting. But increasing vision loss after the turn of the century eventually led to total blindness. He destroyed most of his music, leaving fewer than 40 works to posterity. In a poignant letter about the destruction of his incomplete opera, dated 19 January 1922, to the composer Jean Cras, his close friend, Duparc wrote:

He spent most of the rest of his life in La Tour-de-Peilz, near Vevey, Switzerland, and died in Mont-de-Marsan, in southwestern France, at age 85.

Duparc is buried at Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. A square in the 17th arrondissement of Paris, near the rue de Levis, is named in his honor.


Catalogue of works by Henri Duparc
Year Composition Notes Type of Work
1863-65Six rêveries, pour pianoPrinted, but unpublished. Private collection of Mme. d'Armagnac, granddaughter of Duparc.Piano solo
1867Sonate pour violoncelle et pianoPremiered in 1948. Private collection of Mme. d'Armagnac, granddaughter of Duparc.Cello & piano
1867-69Feuilles volantes, pour pianoPiano solo
1868Chanson tristePublished as: Op. 2, no. 4. Text by Jean Lahor.Voice & piano (orchestrated 1912)
1869Le galopPublished as: Op. 2, no. 5. Text by Sully Prudhomme. Released in 1948.Voice & piano
1869Romance de MignonPublished as: Op. 2, no. 3. Text by Victor Wilder, based on « Kennst du das Land » by Goethe).Voice & piano
1869Sérénade florentinePublished as: Op. 2, no. 2. Text by Jean Lahor.Voice & piano
1869SoupirPublished as: Op. 2, no. 1. Text by Sully Prudhomme. Revised 1902.Voice & piano
1869Cinq mélodies, op. 2Voice & piano
1869Beaulieu, pour pianoPrivate collection of Mme. d'Armagnac, granddaughter of Duparc.Piano solo
1869-70Au pays où se fait la guerreText by Théophile Gautier. Original title: Absence. Definitive version, 1911–13.Voice & piano (orchestrated 1876)
1870L'Invitation au voyageText by Charles Baudelaire. Released in 1872.Voice & piano (orchestrated 1892–95)
1871La fuite, duo pour soprano et ténor avec pianoPublished as: Op. 2, no. 6.Duet for voice & piano
1871La vague et la clocheText by François Coppée. Released in 1873.Voice & piano (Orchestrated)
1872Suite d'orchestre(Lost).Orchestral suite
1872-82PhidyléText by Leconte de Lisle. Released in 1889Voice & piano (orchestrated, 1891–92)
1873Laendler, suite de valses pour orchestre(Destroyed).Orchestral suite
1873Laendler (version for two pianos)Two pianos
1874Poème nocturne :
I. Aux étoiles - II. Lutins et follets - III. Duo: L’aurore
Part lost, only: I. Aux étoiles is extant.
Premiered in Paris on 11 April 1874 at the Société Nationale de Musique Moderne.
Orchestral work
1874ElégieText by Ellen MacSwinny(?) (wife of Duparc) after Thomas Moore.Voice & piano
1874ExtaseText by Jean Lahor. Released 1882. Revised 1884.Voice & piano
1875LénoreBased on the ballad of the same name by Gottfried August Bürger.Symphonic poem
1875Lénore (version for two pianos)transcription for 2 pianos (1884) by Camille Saint-SaënsTwo pianos
1877Suite pour le piano(Lost).Piano solo
1879Le manoir de RosemondeText by Robert de BonnièresVoice & piano (orchestrated 1912)
1879-95Roussalka, opéra en trois actesUnfinished. Based on Русалки (Rusalka), a dramatic poem by Alexander Pushkin. Destroyed except for "Absence," republished as "Au pays où se fait la guerre".Opera in 3 acts
1880SérénadeText by Gabriel Marc. Released 1882.Voice & piano
1882Benedicat vobis DominusMotet for three mixed voices and organ (or piano).Choral music
1883LamentoText by Théophile Gautier.Voice & piano
1883TestamentText by Paul Armand Silvestre. Released in 1898.Voice & piano (orchestrated 1900–02)
1884La vie antérieureText by Charles Baudelaire.Voice & piano (orchestrated 1911–13)
1886RecueillementUnfinished. (Destroyed).Voice & piano?
1892Danse lenteExtract from Roussalka. Copied by Ernest Ansermet. Preserved by Éditions Salabert.Orchestral work
1903Transcription of two works for organ by J.S. Bach:
Prélude and fugue in E minor ("Cathedral"), BWV 513
Prélude and fugue in A minor ("The Great"), BWV 543
Two pianos
1908Transcription of six organ works by César FranckTwo pianos
1910Aux étoiles, pour pianoAlso: version for piano four hands, & version for organ. Revised 1911.Piano solo
1911Aux étoilesEntr'acte for an unpublished drama.Orchestral work
(n.d.)Transcription of a work for organ by J.S. Bach:
Chorale Prélude and Fugue: In dir ist Freude, BWV 615
Private collection of Ernest AnsermetTwo pianos


Writings by Henri Duparc (in French)

  • César Franck pendant le Siège de Paris, in « Revue musicale », Paris, December 1922.
  • Souvenirs de la Société Nationale, in « Revue de la Société internationale de Musique », Paris, December 1912.

Letters (in French)

  • Lettre à Chausson, in « Revue musicale », December 1925.
  • Duparc Henri : Une Amitié mystique, d'après ses lettres à Francis Jammes. (Preface and comments by G. Ferchault). Mercure de France, Paris, 1944.
  • Gérard, Y. (Ed.). Lettres de Henri Duparc à Ernest Chausson, in « Revue de Musicologie » (N° 38) 1956, p. 125.
  • Sérieyx, M.-L. (Ed.). Vincent d’Indy, Henri Duparc, Albert Roussel : lettres à Auguste Sérieyx. Lausanne, 1961.

Monographs on Duparc (in French)

  • Northcote, S. The Songs of Henri Duparc. London: D. Dobson, 1949. 124 pp.
  • Von der Elst, N. Henri Duparc : l’homme et son oeuvre. (Thesis). Paris: Université de Paris, 1972, & Utrecht, 1972.
  • Fabre, M. L'image de Henri Duparc dans sa correspondence avec Jean Cras. 1973.
  • Fellot, H. Lieder français : Henri Duparc, in « Revue Musicale de Lyon ». Lyon, 30 March 1904.
  • Chantavoine, J. Henri Duparc, in « La Revue Hebdomadaire », Paris, 5 May 1906.
  • Aubry, G.-J. Henri Duparc, in « La vie musicale de Lausanne », Lausanne, 1 February 1908.
  • Jammes, Francis. L'Amour, les Muses et la Chasse, in « Mercure de France », Paris, 1922, p. 172 et al.
  • Fauré, Gabriel. Opinions musicales. Paris: Rieder, 1930.
  • Imbert, M. Henri Duparc, in « La Petite Maîtrise », Schola Cantorum de París, March 1933.
  • Ansermet, Ernest. Un émouvant témoignage sur la destinée d'Henri Duparc, in « Revue Musicale », Paris, April 1933.
  • Bréville, P. Henri Fouques Duparc 1848-1933, in « La Musique Française », Paris, May 1933.
  • Merle, F. Psychologie et Pathologie d'un artiste: Henri Duparc. Bordeaux: Imprimerie de l'Université (Bordeaux), 1933.
  • Oulmont, C. Henri Duparc, ou de L'Invitation au Voyage à la Vie éternelle. Paris: Desclée de Brouwer & Cie, 1935.
  • Oulmont, C. Un Duparc inconnu, in « Revue musicale », Paris, July–August 1935.
  • Stricker, R. Henri Duparc et ses mélodies. (Thesis). Paris: Conservatoire national de musique, 1961.
  • Rigault, J.-L. Les mélodies de Duparc, Autour de la mélodie française. Rouen, 1987, p. 71-86.
  • Stricker, R. Les mélodies de Duparc. Arles, 1996.
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