Ernest Chausson

1855 - 1899

Biography

Ernest Chausson was born on January 20th 1855 in Paris to a reasonably affluent middle class family. For the sake of appeasing his father, Chausson studied law initially and became a barrister in the Parisian Court of Appeals, but he had absolutely no interest in the profession. He spent much of his time in the Paris salons, meeting celebrities such as Henri Fantin-Latour, Odilon Redon and Vincent d’Indy. Before he finally decided on a musical career, he attempted careers in writing and drawing. When he did finally decide to embark upon a musical career in October 1879 aged 25, Chausson enrolled at the Paris Conservatory and began studies in composition with Jules Massenet. He also studied briefly with César Franck. In 1881, he halted his studies in order to try and win the Prix de Rome. He was unsuccessful and after this visited Bayreuth in order to hear the operas of Wagner. 

In 1886, Chausson was appointed as secretary of the Société Nationale de Musique. He also provided a home to many great eminent artists of the time, including composers Henri Duparc, Gabriel Fauré, Claude Debussy and Issac Albéniz, poet Mallarmé, Russian novelist Turgenev and impressionist painter Monet. He also collected a great deal of paintings in this period of his life. Very sadly, just as his compositional career was beginning to flourish, Chausson died, aged 44 whilst staying at one of his country retreats in June 1899.