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Cécile Chaminade (1857-1944)

Born August 8, 1857
Paris, France
Died April 13, 1944
Monte Carlo, Monaco
Nationality French
Era Romantic

Cécile Chaminade’s earliest music training came from her mother, an amateur pianist and singer. Her father did not support her formal music training, so she took private lessons with numerous faculty members from the Paris Conservatorie, including Félix Couppey and Benjamin Godard.

Starting in the 1880s, she became one of the most prominent French composers, regardless of gender, across the globe. She championed both smaller scale works for piano and voice, as well as opéra comique and ballet. Her most popular works were the character pieces, which caused her to narrow her focus on these works. She was extremely financially savvy; almost all of her 400 pieces were published during her life. She frequently toured throughout Europe and the United States and was a regular guest of Queen Victoria.

Her music is incredibly tuneful and accessible; the melodies are quite memorable, and the textures are clear. Her Flute Concertino has remained a staple of the repertoire, though much of her music fell out of favor with the advent of modernism in the mid-century.

See Also:
Marcia Citron. Cécile Chaminade: A Bio-Bibliography. New York: Greenwood Press, 1988.

Marcia Citron. Gender and the Musical Canon. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

Cécile Tardif. Portrait de Cécile Chaminade. Montreal: L. Corteau, 1993.