Ernest Chausson

Ernest Chausson died in 1899, at the age of 44, from injuries sustained in a bicycle accident. His death silenced the most distinctive voice in French music in the generation immediately preceding Debussy's. Chausson came from a well-to-do family, and although interested in music from a young age, Chausson pursued law studies at his father's behest. In 1877, he was sworn in as a lawyer in Paris. In the same year, he wrote his first work, the unpublished song Lilas. Chausson dedicated himself to composing in 1879, when he attended a performance of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde in Munich. At the performance he met  Wagner disciple, and professor at the Paris Conservatory, Vincent d'Indy. Chausson entered the Paris Conservatory in the following year and began studies with Jules Massenet; his formal musical education was rounded out by private study with César Franck. As secretary of the Société Nationale de Musique (an organization founded by Saint-Saí«ns and others to promote the performance of French instrumental music) from 1886, Chausson became a full-fledged member of the Parisian musical community. His salon became a regular meeting place for literary and musical notables includeing Mallarmé, Debussy, Albéniz, pianist Alfred Cortot, and violinist/composer Eugène Ysaí¿e. A prolific composer of songs, Chausson also composed works for voice and orchestra, choral music, and several operas. He is best known, however, for his chamber music–especially the Concerto for piano, violin, and string quartet, Op. 21 (1889-1891), and the Piano Quartet, Op. 30 (1897)–and for imaginative orchestral works like the Symphony in B flat major, Op. 20 (1889-1890), and the Poème for violin and orchestra, Op. 25 (1896).