Joseph Canteloube

1879 - 1957



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Marie-Joseph Canteloube de Malaret, better known as Joseph Canteloube, was born in Annonay on 21 October 1879. A pianist, composer and musicologist, whose family came from the Auvergne region of France, he first studied the piano with a former female pupil of Chopin, then entered the Schola Cantorum where he worked with Vincent d’Indy, whose biography he later wrote (1949). Canteloube composed several chamber music works, songs, symphonic scores with or without voice, an opera Le Mas – a celebration of the Auvergne for which he wrote the libretto as well as the music, and a stage epic, Vercengétorix, these last works premiered in the Paris Opera in respectively 1929 and 1933. He owes his current fame to his harmonisations of many folksongs from the French regions, for which he collected both words and music. Between 1939 and 1944 he published them in a four-volume Anthologie de chants populaires français, yet it is his Chants d’Auvergne, gathered between 1928 and 1934, that lie at the heart of his catalogue. These famous peasant songs glorifying the sound world of the Auvergne, reach the level, as he used to say, of art at its purest. Joseph Canteloube, who had but one pupil, Henri Sauguet, died in Grigny near Paris on 4 November 1957.