French composer and critic Paul Dukas was born in Paris on 1 October 1865. His mother was a pianist, but she died in childbirth when Paul was five. At fourteen he began to compose and two years later began to study at the Paris Conservatoire, where he became friends with Debussy. His composition teacher was Ernest Guiraud.
His works include the recently rediscovered early overture Le Roi Lear, the ballet La Péri, the opera Ariane et Barbe-bleue and a Symphony in C, but all have been overshadowed by his most famous composition, the scherzo L'apprenti sorcier, used in Disney's film Fantasia.
Dukas had a parallel career as music critic, writing regularly for several French journals, and later in life, taught composition at the Paris Conservatoire and the Ecole Normale de Musique, influencing the future careers of Jehan Alain, Carlos Chávez, Maurice Duruflé, Olivier Messiaen, Manuel Ponce and Joaquín Rodrigo.
With Saint-Saëns, he was instrumental in rediscovering and editing the works of Jean-Philippe Rameau.
Paul Dukas died in Paris on 17 May 1935, aged sixty-nine.
A selection of M&V articles about Paul Dukas
CD Spotlight. Distinctive Skillfulness - Musical stories for narrator and orchestra, heard by Howard Smith. 'Prokofiev, Britten and Dukas slot together to vivid effect.'
Ensemble. A Seasonal Nod - Derby Concert Orchestra's Christmas concert, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Luminous Scoring - Jongen, Dukas, Fauré, Respighi and Messiaen from Jonathan Scott, Cristian Mandeal and the Hallé Orchestra, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Luxuriant Music - Orchestral works by Paul Dukas, heard by Patric Standford. '... a fine performance ...'
A Golden Treasury - Havergal Brian on European and American music, read by Patric Standford
Thoughtfulness of Approach - A recital by Australian pianist Jayson Gillham, reviewed by Bill Newman
CD Spotlight. Sovereign Horn Territory - Music for horn and orchestra, recommended by Howard Smith. '... stunning breath control and consummate understanding ...'
Rui dos Reis - Jennifer Paull interviews and investigates the Portuguese composer-pianist