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Arthur Honegger
Birth: Mar. 10, 1892
Death: Nov. 27, 1955

Composer. Swiss by birth, he spent most of his life in France. He first won notoriety in the early 1920s as a member of "Les Six", a group of irreverent Parisian musicians who rebelled against Romanticism and Impressionism. But his signature style was more serious and weighty, infused with a Germanic sensibility. Honegger's "Pacific 231" (1924), a vivid, exciting study of a train in motion, is a classic example of descriptive music. His oratorios "King David" (1921, revised 1924) and "Joan of Arc at the Stake" (1938) helped revitalize the choral drama for modern audiences, and he is rated among the finest symphonists of the 20th Century. Oscar Arthur Honegger was born to Swiss-German parents in Le Havre, France. He initially studied violin at the Zurich Conservatory. At age 19 he opted for Swiss citizenship but made Paris his permanent home while attending that city's Conservatory (1911 to 1919). There he met fellow student Darius Milhaud and others who, after World War I, would constitute "Les Six" under the patronage of Jean Cocteau. Their professed aim was to do away with heavy-handed seriousness and write music that was witty, concise, and derived from popular culture. Honegger contributed to their one joint effort, the satirical ballet "The Marriage on the Eiffel Tower" (1921). The publicity surrounding this "movement" was important in launching Honegger's career, but it was "King David" and "Pacific 231" - works greatly at odds with the "Les Six" aesthetic - that made him internationally famous. He travelled extensively and between 1928 and 1930 he toured the Soviet Union, the United States, and South America, playing and conducting his music. During World War II he remained in occupied Paris and aided the Resistance. In 1947 Honegger suffered a heart attack during a visit to the US; his health never fully recovered and he was too ill for any musical activity after 1953. That year he was elected as a foreign member to the Institute of France and in 1954 was named a Grand Officer of the Legion of Honor. He was married to pianist and teacher Andree Vaurabourg-Honegger from 1926 until his death. They had one daughter. An earlier affair with opera singer Claire Croiza produced a son. Honegger never considered himself naturally gifted and was slow to develop as an artist. Some of his music of the 1920s reflected the saucy spirit of "Les Six", notably the droll Concertino for Piano and Orchestra (1925) and the Cello Concerto (1929), but his allegiance with that group stemmed more from personal friendship than shared ideas. As early as 1920 he made his own position clear: "I have no taste for circuses or music halls, but rather for music in its most austere and serious forms". In such opuses as the orchestral pieces "Pastorale d'ete" (1920) and "Rugby" (1928), the ballet-symphony "Horace victorieux" (1921), the oratorio "Judith" (1925), the short opera "Antigone" (1927), and the Symphony No. 1 (1930), he seemed torn between the traditional and the avant-garde. His mature style began to take shape with the "Symphonic Movement No. 3" (1933) and fully emerged with "Joan of Arc at the Stake", his first collaboration with author Paul Claudel. It is often somber and harmonically complex, combining romantic expression with great rigor of neoclassical form, while remaining accessible to listeners. Outstanding among his later compositions are the oratorio "The Dance of the Dead" (1940) to a text by Claudel; the Symphony No. 2 (for strings, 1942) and Symphony No. 3 ("Symphonie liturgique", 1946), powerful reflections on the war years and their immediate aftermath; the bucolic Symphony No. 4 ("Deliciae basilienses", 1947) and "Concerto da camera" (1949); the Symphony No. 5 (1951), "Monopartita" for orchestra (1951), and "A Christmas Cantata" (1953). He also wrote scores for 42 films, including Abel Gance's "La Roue" (1923) and "Napoleon" (1927), Bertold Bartosch's animated short "L'Idee" (1934), "Crime and Punishment" (1935), "Mayerling" (1937), and "Pygmalion" (1938). In this sphere he greatly influenced Hollywood film composer Miklos Rozsa. The deep pessimism of Honegger's last years was made explicit in his book "I Am a Composer" (1951), in which he attacked serial technique as a sign of civilization's decline, and after his death his reputation faded sharply. A resurgence began in the late 1980s due in large part to conductors Charles Dutoit, Serge Baudo, and Michel Plasson, who championed his music, and several of his major works have been restored to the repertory. Since 1996 his portrait has been featured on the Swiss 20 franc banknote. (bio by: Bobb Edwards) 
 
Burial:
Cimetiere St. Vincent
Montmartre
City of Paris
Ile-de-France, France
Plot: Division 8
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: Bobb Edwards
Record added: Apr 15, 2004
Find A Grave Memorial# 8640946
Arthur Honegger
Added by: Bobb Edwards
 
Arthur Honegger
Added by: Bobb Edwards
 
Arthur Honegger
Added by: Creative Commons
 
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