A pupil of César Franck and Massenet and successor of the former as organist at Ste Clotilde in Paris, Gabriel Pierné won distinction as a composer and as a conductor, in the second capacity directing the Concerts Colonne from 1903, at first as a deputy to Eduard Colonne and then as his successor from 1910 until 1934. As a composer he was versatile, whether in more serious music or in a lighter-hearted but always technically assured idiom.
Pierné’s music for the theatre includes several operas, from La coupe enchantée (‘The Magic Cup’), based on La Fontaine, to the mystery play Les enfants à Bethléem (‘The Children at Bethlehem’) and the incidental music for Pierre Loti’s Ramuntcho, with the ballet Cydalise et le chèvre-pied (‘Cydalise and the Goat-Foot’).
Orchestral music by Pierné includes a piano concerto, a concert-piece for harp and orchestra and the symphonic poems Paysages franciscains (‘Franciscan Landscapes’).
Pierné’s sonatas for flute and piano, for violin, for cello and his Sonata da camera for flute cello and piano are interesting elements of chamber music repertoire, with the Canzonetta for clarinet and piano, Voyage au pays (‘Journey to the Country’) for flute, harp and string trio a piano quintet and a Solo de concert for bassoon and piano.
Choral and Vocal Music
Choral music includes the oratorio La croisade des enfants (‘The Children’s Crusade’) and a number of songs, ranging in mood from the relatively superficial to works of much greater depth.