1863 - 1937
Gabriel Pierné was born in Metz on 16 August 1863, though he studied music at the Paris Conservatory, notably with César Franck for organ and Jules Massenet for composition. After winning the Prix de Rome in 1882 with his cantata Édith, he succeeded his teacher Franck as organist of Sainte Clotilde in Paris in 1890, and followed Édouard Colonne at the head of the orchestra of the Concerts Colonne in 1910. A member of the Académie des Beaux Arts in 1924, this great champion of the music of his time gave first performances with the Concerts Colonne of most of the major works of his contemporaries: Saint-Saëns (Le Carnaval des Animaux), Debussy (Images), Roussel, Ravel, Schmitt, Enesco, Stravinsky (The Firebird). An eminent conductor and dedicated composer, Pierné wrote in almost all genres. Apart from fifty or so piano pieces, chamber compositions of great quality and songs, this skilful and refined colourist also composed symphonic and stage music in the Massenet tradition (the ballet Cydalise et le Chèvre-Pied) and large-scale, oratorio-like vocal frescos marked by the influence of Franck (L’An Mil, La Croisade des Enfants). Gabriel Pierné died at Ploujean in Brittany on 17 July 1937.