Henri Sauguet

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Henri Sauguet (born May 18, 1901 in Bordeaux , † June 22, 1989 in Paris ) was a French composer .


Henri Sauguet was born as Henri-Pierre Poupart, but took his mother's maiden name as a pseudonym or stage name. At the age of 5 he received piano lessons, initially from his mother Elisabeth. Sauguet later got organ lessons, a. a. by Paul Combes, organist at Notre-Dame in Bordeaux. At the age of 15 he became an organist at the Saint-Vincent church in Floirac near Bordeaux. The wartime prevented the planned entry into the Conservatory of Bordeaux.

After the First World War, the composer Joseph Canteloube, known for his Chants d'Auvergne, became aware of Sauguet, offered him lessons and also got him a job as a secretary at the prefecture of his residence in Montauban . As a result, Sauguet developed an interest in the folk music of his homeland, but was also convinced of the goals of the French composer group " Groupe des Six ". When he returned to Bordeaux, he founded a “Groupe des Trois” with Louis Emié and Jean-Marcel Lizotte , the first concert of which took place on December 12, 1920. The concert began with works by composer colleagues from the "Groupe des Six", followed by music by Erik Satie from Parade and the "Groupe des Trois". Henri Sauguet played his Danse nègre and the Pastorale pour piano .

Concert program on December 12, 1920 in Bordeaux

At the invitation of Darius Milhaud , Sauguet went to Paris in 1921 and got to know the latest work of the Groupe des Six - the collective composition Les mariés de la Tour Eiffel - and the Pierrot lunaire by Schönberg . In 1922 he finally moved to Paris, where he took on odd jobs, a. a. as a secretary at the Guimet Museum and continued his education mainly self-taught, but also took private lessons from Charles Koechlin . In 1923 he founded together with the young musicians Henri Cliquet-Pleyel , Roger Désormière and Maxime Jacob the (but only short-lived) "Ecole d'Arcueil" (" Arcueil School "). Erik Satie saw them as their patron saint, so to speak (Satie lived in the Paris suburb of Arcueil), and thanks to his support, she was able to hold her first concert on October 25, 1923 at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées .

Sauguet's first major success was in 1924 with the Opéra bouffe Le plumet du Colonel , which was performed together with Stravinski's Histoire du soldat . In 1927, he wrote on behalf of Diaghilev ballet La chat . In the same year he began work on his first great opera La Chartreuse de Parme , which was not completed until 1936. In 1934 his 1st piano concerto was premiered with Clara Haskil as a soloist.

In 1930, Sauguet's increasing successes as a composer enabled him to give up his previous activities at various companies and a music publisher. Since then he has mainly worked as a freelance composer and was also active as a music critic and conductor at times. In addition to many compositions for the stage, numerous compositions for the film were an important source of income. So far mainly known for entertaining ballet music - his most successful ballet Les forains was premiered in 1945 - shortly afterwards, Sauguet completed the serious 1st symphony , which is dedicated to the memory of the victims of the Second World War and is entitled Symphonie expiatoire ( Atonement Symphony ).

Tomb of Henri Sauguet, Cimetière de Montmartre , Paris

In the following decades numerous other compositions were created, especially for the stage, but also for film, radio and television. In 1951 he was elected an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters . In 1976, Sauguet became a member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts as the successor to his late friend Darius Milhaud. Henri Sauguet died in 1989 during a Paris music festival. His grave is on the Parisian Cimetière de Montmartre , which he shares with his partner, the stage painter Jacques Dupont.

Sauguet wrote an autobiography entitled "La musique, ma vie".


In terms of style, Sauguet was strongly influenced by Satie and Koechlin, but also Milhaud and Francis Poulenc (for a time he was considered the seventh member of the “Groupe des Six”). With Poulenc, he also had the ability to compose light and profound things in immediate succession. In addition to neoclassical music, there are also neo-romantic features. Sauguet remained committed to tonality and found little interest in avant-garde trends after the Second World War, even though he experimented temporarily with musique concrète and even created a purely electronic work in Pierre Schaeffer's studio .

Sauguet is the composer of 5 great operas and numerous stage and ballet music. There are also 4 symphonies: 1st symphony ( Symphonie expiatoire , 1945), 2nd symphony ( Symphonie allégorique , Les saisons for choir, children's choir, solos and orchestra, 1949), 3rd symphony (1954), 4th symphony ( Troisième Age , 1971). Furthermore, Sauguet u. a. 3 piano concerts, a cello concerto (1963), 3 string quartets, sacred music, film music and songs.

Filmography (selection)

  • 1933: The Cardsharp (L'épervier)
  • 1943: The Honorable Catherine (L'honorable Catherine)
  • 1944: Call of the Mountains (Premier de cordée)
  • 1946: Farrébique
  • 1948: The city of love (Clochemerle)
  • 1949: Between 11 a.m. and midnight (Entre onze heures et minuit)
  • 1950: Open the ring (Au revoir, Monsieur Grock)
  • 1956: The Great Seducer (Don Juan)
  • 1959: You are Peter (do it Pierre)


  • Sauguet, Henri: La musique, ma vie . Librairie Séguier, 1990.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Honorary Members: Henri Sauguet. American Academy of Arts and Letters, accessed March 20, 2019 .