Jules Massenet, composer and teacher, has profoundly influenced French music, in such an evident way that it occasionally fades into the background. Seven concerts at Palazzetto Bru Zane retrace his creativity and life.
Quite the reserved type, Jules Massenet would probably be surprised upon knowing about a programme dedicated to him. We are not, though, for many of his disciples took their mentor’s vision well into the twentieth century: Gabriel Pierné, Xavier Leroux, Gustave Charpentier, Augustin Savard, the Hillemacher Brothers, Alfred Bruneau, Paul Vidal, Reynaldo Hahn, Henry Février, Florent Schmitt painted an image of a discreet artist who knew what he was capable of. Massenet was professor of composition at the Paris Conservatory and a member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts since age thirty-six.
‘Eclecticism’ seems to be the key to understand his style. It suits every one of his pieces and his oeuvre overall. Subject-wise, Massenet explored history, from antiquity to modernity, and geography, from France to exotic locales. He composed tragedies, naturalist dramas, farces, and fantasy pieces. At Palazzetto Bru Zane, the first concert dedicated to him is From salon to the stage, a programme of opera arias and melodies for piano and voice. On the following day, a collection of piano pieces authored by Massenet before he dedicated heart and soul to symphony and melodrama.