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Samuel Rousseau


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I hold my head in shame to admit that until recently I had never heard of Samuel Rousseau, the maître de chappelle at St Clotilde during Franck's final years (did he continue with Tournemire?) Once reason for this is that I have never heard anyone play any of his music.

 

Recently I have been looking at his 12 pieces, published in 1892 and found myself wondering why they are so neglected. They are what you would call easy listening rather than great music, but they are competently done and appealed to me. I particularly like the occasional splashes of Debussian harmony (as on the last page of Prière). Mélodie is also very atractive. The Offertoire has a good melody too (almost English: I could imagine S.S. Wesley penning it).

 

Spurred on by this I spent yesterday evening reading through the 15 pieces published just two years later. What a difference! These are in far more questionable taste. Clearly Rousseau was aiming at a more Lefébure-Wély-esque form of entertainment (except in the serious Prélude which is in marked contrast to the rest of the collection). Nevertheless, unlike Lefébure-Wély, he just about manages to stay within the boundaries of decorum. His pieces would be good recital programme fillers for organists wanting something entertaining without sinking to the nethermost depths.

 

No doubt I am just uncommonly thick and you are all thinking, "Oh yes, where have you been? We know all about Rousseau!" So what do you make of him? I confess I'm not entirely sure.

 

Links to the pieces here:

https://urresearch.rochester.edu/handle/1802/3237

https://urresearch.rochester.edu/handle/1802/3318

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I hold my head in shame to admit that until recently I had never heard of Samuel Rousseau, the maître de chappelle at St Clotilde during Franck's final years (did he continue with Tournemire?) Once reason for this is that I have never heard anyone play any of his music.

 

Recently I have been looking at his 12 pieces, published in 1892 and found myself wondering why they are so neglected. They are what you would call easy listening rather than great music, but they are competently done and appealed to me. I particularly like the occasional splashes of Debussian harmony (as on the last page of Prière). Mélodie is also very atractive. The Offertoire has a good melody too (almost English: I could imagine S.S. Wesley penning it).

 

Spurred on by this I spent yesterday evening reading through the 15 pieces published just two years later. What a difference! These are in far more questionable taste. Clearly Rousseau was aiming at a more Lefébure-Wély-esque form of entertainment (except in the serious Prélude which is in marked contrast to the rest of the collection). Nevertheless, unlike Lefébure-Wély, he just about manages to stay within the boundaries of decorum. His pieces would be good recital programme fillers for organists wanting something entertaining without sinking to the nethermost depths.

 

No doubt I am just uncommonly thick and you are all thinking, "Oh yes, where have you been? We know all about Rousseau!" So what do you make of him? I confess I'm not entirely sure.

 

Links to the pieces here:

https://urresearch.rochester.edu/handle/1802/3237

https://urresearch.rochester.edu/handle/1802/3318

 

I like Rousseau's music; it's subtle, poetic and not so boring to me as Franck.

There's a nice recording on a Stolz organ in Spain.

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I hold my head in shame to admit that until recently I had never heard of Samuel Rousseau, the maître de chappelle at St Clotilde during Franck's final years (did he continue with Tournemire?)

 

The answer seems to be yes: this page shows a picture of Rousseau with the Ste-Clotilde choir in 1903 (i.e. one year before his death), and Tournemire was appointed organist in 1898.

 

There's a nice recording on a Stolz organ in Spain.

 

Indeed: this one, played by Kurt Lueders.

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