Arthur Honegger

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Arthur Honegger (born March 10, 1892 in Le Havre , † November 27, 1955 in Paris ) was a French - Swiss composer . He composed around 200 works that identify him as an important representative of the Groupe des Six . Honegger was depicted on the Swiss 20-franc note from 1996 to 2017 .


Honegger was born as the first child of the couple Julie Ulrich (1859–1922) and Arthur Honegger from Zurich in Le Havre, where his father worked as a self-employed coffee importer. He grew up there and received music lessons at an early age, learned to play the violin and composed as a teenager. In 1909 he began to study at the Zurich Conservatory (violin, music theory ) and lived in the family of his uncle Oskar Honegger, who was the chief judge in Zurich. He continued his studies from 1911 at the Paris Conservatory (violin, counterpoint ). In André Gedalge's counterpoint class , he made the acquaintance of Darius Milhaud and Jacques Ibert . From 1915 he studied composition (with Charles-Marie Widor ) and conducting (with Vincent d'Indy ).

Arthur Honegger on a German postage stamp (1992).

In 1918 he completed his studies and composed his first independent work, the ballet Le Dit des Jeux du monde , whose premiere at the end of the year caused a scandal and brought the composer public attention. Like Milhaud and Francis Poulenc , he was a member of the Groupe des Six , but his music was at a certain distance from the official aesthetic of the group. His international breakthrough came with his work Pacific 231 (1923), the musical portrait of a steam locomotive - not as program music , but as an aesthetic representation of force and movement. In Paris in the early 1930s he frequented the salon of the Dutch composer Rosy Wertheim , where he met fellow composers Barraine , Ibert , Messiaen and Milhaud , among others .

The second symphony was written in the war winter of 1941/42 ; at that time he was working as a music critic and as a composition teacher in Paris, which was occupied by the German troops. He himself described his memory as “predominantly thermal in nature. It was very cold when I was working on the symphony, and since I had no coal and no wood, I was freezing in my studio the whole time. " The symphony is a work of confession with a melancholy and oppressive mood. The final movement dissolves this mood with its great chorale-like finale and builds bridges: to the hope of peace as to the great role model Johann Sebastian Bach .

1950 honorary member of the International Society for Contemporary Music ISCM . In 1952 he was accepted as an external member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts . In 1955, the year he died, he was elected an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters .

Arthur Honegger died in Paris on November 27, 1955 at the age of 63. It rests on the Cimetière Saint-Vincent on Montmartre in Paris .

He was married to the pianist and music teacher Andrée Vaurabourg-Honegger . His great grandson is Doug Honegger .

Works (selection)


Web links

Commons : Arthur Honegger  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Willy Tappolet: Arthur Honegger . Atlantis, Zurich 1954, p. 13 ff.
  2. ^ ISCM Honorary Members
  3. ^ Honorary Members: Arthur Honegger. American Academy of Arts and Letters, accessed March 11, 2019 .