Recent Repertoire Discoveries from France:

Jean Cras' 'Sonate pour violoncelle et piano' (1900)
'Légende pour violoncelle et orchestre' (1929) ©

by Paul-André Bempéchat

As the Biblical proverb aptly professes, "None is prophet in his own land," and in this respect, the esoteric impressionist composer, philosopher, scientist, inventor and Rear Admiral Jean Cras (1879-1932) has proven to be a shining example of the prophecy. Nearly forgotten for over a half century, Jean Cras stands out boldly among the many, prolific, inspiring composers of a generation who form vital, missing links within the enormous fresco of French post-Romanticism. All but consumed, if not actually negated by the proto-Teutonic ethos which mesmerized the western musical mind for the better part of a century, Cras' works are finally enjoying a vibrant renaissance in much of Europe.

Although in actual numbers his legacy of chamber works is not as extensive as that of the Holy French Triumvirate of his times, Fauré, Debussy and Ravel, Jean Cras bequeathed two major contributions to the virtuoso 'cello literature, the first, his Sonate pour violoncelle et piano of 1900, the second, Légende, of 1929, a rhapsody for 'cello and orchestra. I am deeply grateful to Mlle Monique Cras (b. 1910), the composer's last surviving offspring, for having afforded me unfettered access to her father's musical and literary library, his unpublished correspondence, autobiography and manuscripts, which remain the foundation of my research.

Jean Cras was born and died in Brest, one of France's most important military sites on the Breton coast, into a very old and esteemed Naval and medical family. By six, he began composing short piano pieces, songs and vocal duets for house concerts with his siblings. Following in the family tradition, the young Jean enrolled at the Naval Academy in 1896 and, concurrent with basic training, taught himself theory, orchestration, counterpoint and composition.

At 20, Cras felt himself at an impasse, and decided to study with the composer under whom he felt he would most benefit, master lyricist Henri Duparc. Within days of their first meeting, Duparc declared Cras to be one of the most gifted musicians he had ever met and the two grew as close as could any teacher and student, Duparc later referring to his protégé as le fils de mon âme ("the son of my soul"). For three months during the latter part of 1900, when Cras enjoyed a rare break from the Navy, master and pupil worked assiduously, Duparc guiding Cras meticulously through the compositional processes of Bach, Beethoven and his own mentor, César Franck. These would be Cras' only lessons in composition; henceforth, he would continue refine his art independently. During this period, Duparc had recommended his pupil to the famed organist Alexandre Guilmant, whose masterclasses Cras subsequently attended at the Conservatoire. Steeped in the fervent Catholicism of the times, this side of his brief apprenticeship reflects notably through his vocal and choral writing, firmly aligned with contemporaneous national traditions.

Jean Cras' greatest problem as composer was a chronic lack of time to devote to his art. The sea he loved, the Navy, although patriotically devoted to it, he resented. Unlike the two most famous composers who had begun Naval careers and eventually resigned their commissions, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakoff and his friend Albert Roussel, Cras never left the service, eventually rising to Rear-Admiral. Cras' maritime experiences sowed the seeds of an imagination and introspection which enabled him to understand profoundly the alienation of the human condition.

Analysis of Jean Cras' life discloses a systematic evolution of mind and spirit in complete symbiosis with an artistic evolution which moved technically towards cyclical composition and stylistically towards the establishment of an iconoclastic language of his very own. With increasing and meticulous sophistication, he infused into a traditionally romantic tonal matrix an autobiographical framework of symbols reflecting family, Church, his native Brittany, and exoticisms gleaned from his travels.

The victory of Jean Cras' opera, Polyphème, set to Albert Samain's lyric tragedy, at the Concours musical de la Ville de Paris in 1921, catapulted then Commander Jean Cras to the zenith of French cultural life. With all of France intrigued by the novelty of a decorated war hero cum celebrated composer, his name would become as much a household word as Ravel's, whose friendship he had enjoyed since the turn of the century. Dozens of newspapers, professional journals and radio interviews alike afforded the war hero a degree of celebrity enjoyed by an elite few. Cras' higher military rank afforded him greater time at home in Paris, enabling him to devote himself more fully to composition. His ingenuity reached its peak during his final decade, and it is from this, his most experimental period, that Cras bequeathed some of the most inventive solo and chamber compositions music of the twentieth century, most notably, his stellar Trio pour cordes (1925).

To understand Cras, one must focus on his ferocious, jealously-guarded independent streak, nurtured and crafted during the war years. After brief memberships in the Société nationale de musique and Société musicale indépendante, he resigned from both, refusing any possible association with any school of thought, movement, trend or fad. This, he stated and restated emphatically in interviews with important Parisian journalists late in 1924: 1

"Despite the hazards to which I was subjected by my naval career I never ceased to compose, faithful to the teachings of my professor, but above all forcing myself to remain myself, for whatever that may be worth... It is difficult for me to pinpoint my artistic inclinations. I am not, nor wish to be associated with any one school of thought."

Indeed. For as much as Cras resented his full-time employment in the Navy, he also recognized that the financial security it afforded, enabled his independence and freedom to compose when, how and as he pleased. Only naturally, his legacy operates as a systematic autobiography.

Jean Cras' Sonate pour violoncelle et piano comes third, in fact, within his existential trilogy of instrumental sonatas written in 1900. Cras makes brief mention of his 'cello sonata in his correspondence, but only cursory reference to either of the two earlier sonatas for violin and piano, and viola with piano; these remain unpublished at the time of this writing. Believing that man's journey through life to be a spiritual process, the fervently religious composer subtitled the violin sonata L'Esprit ("The Mind"), the viola sonata L'Ame ("The Soul"), and the 'cello sonata La Chair ("The Flesh"). For each, Cras wrote a prose-poetic philosophical, hermeneutic introduction; unfortunately, the one for this particular sonata, and only this one, has been lost. Jean Cras' Sonate pour violoncelle et piano reflects fully the enormous strides he had made with Duparc: this sonata represents not only Cras' first major multi-movement work, but also his first foray into cyclical composition. On numerous occasions, the composer recounted his gratitude to Henri Duparc for having pushed him to study Beethoven's String Quartets in depth, a process he continued avidly until his death. In fact, he kept the scores on his night table as reading material. My study of his life and work had compelled me, initially, to view Jean Cras as a latter-day Beethovenian, stylistically closer to the French romantics. However, a far broader dimension evolved when I began tracing his development as a ferocious independent, albeit devout exponent of the cyclic principles of the Franckian school. Once he had grapsed and subsequently mastered this idiom, he adapted it to his own stylistic specifications, reflecting not only the man's concept of spiritual oneness - the unity of mind and soul - but those of the mariner and the mind of the cunning scientist as well. In short, the originality of Cras' tonal language lies in the fusion of autobiographical symbols into his distinctive process of thematic transformation.

Having just completed the first of his jaunts to Paris and to Duparc's studio, the twenty-one year-old sailor apparently wrestled with his conscience in applying the cyclic principles he had just learned, as he informs his future wife, in a letter dated 21 November 1900: 2

"I began the 'cello sonata by its Finale. It is cyclic, and I am at that point [in time] when I don't know if I must continue along the path [already] undertaken, [or] if I have taken a wrong one. It is an unpleasant moment [to live through], whereby my spirit is at times convinced that things are going well, and at others, the opposite, that I must begin again from scratch."

Cras' anguish seems to have been two-fold: first, he appeared torn as to whether to follow the Franckian principles he had just learned; second, as an extension of this, one may surmise him to have been dissatisfied with his lack of mastery of that technique and to be seeking another metholodogy; the unknown, naturally, seemed to frighten him. Although his Sonate pour violoncelle is indeed cyclical, Cras' application of cyclical principles seems comparatively raw when compared with his later works. In this work, he states the motives naively and sets them in canon or counterpoint with each other, almost as a disciplinary exercise. In time, and with this as both root and axiom of his later syntaxes, Cras meticulously refined the technique to such a degree of mastery as to convince one that the process had been intuitive.

Dedicated to the celebrated 'cellist Louis Fournier, Cras completed his 'cello sonata at Toulon between October 1900 and April 1901. Durand released it in 1920, and still holds the copyright. In his own précis to this Sonata, the composer discloses his vision of cyclical composition which, unified by recurring motives, manifests itself clearly through his analytical methodology. Instead of referring to the themes and motives as belonging to a particular movement, his enumeration of these proceeds uninterrupted; for example, a second theme of a third movement will not be referred to as such, but rather as theme 3, 5 or 7, as the case may be, within the superstructure of the entire composition. In the case of the Sonate pour violoncelle, Cras' enumeration totals eight themes and motives.

The E Major Sonate pour violoncelle is in three movements, the second attacca into the third: Très large - Modéré; Lent - Animé . The work, grandly rhapsodic, reminds one of Brahms' F Major Sonata, Opus 99:

Ex.1: Cras: Sonate pour violoncelle, opening

Ex. 2: Brahms: Sonata in F Major for 'cello and piano, Op. 99, opening

Structurally, the sonata's first movement observes the following tripartite constructive plan, assuming one should analyse Cras' opening motives as being grouped into one introductory unit [A + B]:

[A + B - Bridge] - [A +B variant - Development] -
[A + B - Bridge] - [A + B, second variant - Second development] -

The opening theme, as Cras calls it, gives way at measure 12 to la douce mélodie d'un second motif, 3 indicating that he differentiated between themes and motives:

Ex. 3: Sonate pour violoncelle, first movement, m. 12-19

The second theme, in C major (measure 120), which Cras will recall in later movements, leads into a third motive at measures 146-147; this will recur prominently in the finale as its principal theme:

Ex. 4: Sonate pour violoncelle, first movement, m. 120-125

At measure 167 emerges the fourth theme, which will re-enter in the Finale as that movement's principal theme:

Ex. 5: Sonate pour violoncelle, first movement, m. 167-169

Ex. 6: Sonate pour violoncelle, Finale, m. 10-14

Aside from this cyclical feature, another of Cras' emerging signature devices is movement from the dominant to subdominant, evoking the then trendy reminiscences of modality, as one notes during the final eleven measures of this first movement. In time, this will give way to bold usage of parallel intervals, and melodies predicated and caused by them.

The sober, noble second movement, in the spirit of a Franckian organ chorale develops two motifs principaux 4, as Cras called them, along an A-B-A structure. His principal theme leads into a derivative of the second theme of the first movement (from measure 120):

Ex. 7: Sonate pour violoncelle, Lent, opening

Noteworthy throughout this movement is the development of Cras' accompanimental figure, which, through its metrical and rhythmic subdivisions, remind one of Beethoven's similar process in the Arietta of his Piano Sonata, Opus 111. Very dear to the composer's heart, Cras had carefully studied this great work, as he reveals in his letters written in 1901, the same year as this sonata . Years later, on 31 October 1914 and 6 November 1914, 6 the first entry citing Opus 111, the second discussing Beethoven himself, Cras still referred to Beethoven as the greatest composer who had ever lived. There remains little doubt that the Arietta had deeply moved, inspired and marked him.

In the third movement, Cras brings the cyclical idiom to the rondo form (A-B-A-C-A-D-A-E-A). In E minor, it begins with a nervous yet jaunty rhythmic gesture, derived from the first movement's fourth thematic idea (measure 167 ff. of that movement). One will recognize once another budding Cras signature motive, Lombard rhythmic motives and their embellishments:

Ex. 8: Sonate pour violoncelle, Animé , opening

Much like his penchant for modulation by mediants, which figures regularly in the Sonate pour violoncelle et piano, this Lombard figure may possibly be the most obvious of his signatures. Through augmentation, Cras transforms it more lyrically:

Ex. 9: Sonate pour violoncelle, Animé , m. 43-45

In what the composer himself calls the development section, 7 the second motive from the second movement transforms into a broad melody which Cras superimposes contrapuntally over all his other melodies and their derivatives until the sonata ends peacefully in E major, on the plagal minor cadence, the flatted subdominant to the tonic. Cras' technique of recalling most or all of his motives at the end of a composition stems, quite assuredly, from his faithful study of Beethoven's masterful string quartets.

As an ensemble work, Sonate pour violoncelle is well-conceived, both performers being equal partners, the pianist never serving merely as accompanist. With the parts often so interdependent, he/she need be very careful not to overpower the cellist. This composition demands performers possessing a very advanced technique, and Cras' perpetual changes of tempi, another of his trademarks, requires that the pianist be acutely experienced in chamber music and therefore highly sensitive to his partner.

Much like its composer, the Sonate pour violoncelle et piano gained notoriety slowly. Writing from Marseille on 16 November 1927, Cras, by this time one of France's most celebrated composers, states that one of the 'cellists at the city's Grand Théâtre, had requested an autograph for his score of this work. 8

The work's first performance took place aboard the Provence in 1928, Jean Cras at the piano, Lucienne Radisse, 'cellist. In 1948, Colette Cras and André Lévy performed and recorded it for Radio-France. 9

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Jean Cras completed his first work for solo instrument with orchestra on 24 June 1929, aboard the Provence, perhaps at drydock at the Naval yard at Brest, but probably at sea. He dedicated Légende to Fernand Pollain, one of France's leading 'cellists, whose counsel he had sought for this work, and who had also edited numerous concerti and sonatas of Bach, Boccherini and Marcello for Editions Maurice Sénart, Cras' chief publisher. Indeed, Sénart-Salabert published both the initial orchestral version and Cras' piano transcription of Légende in 1929; these copyrights have now passed on to the house of Salabert. Nonetheless, it is certain that the composer began his Légende at sea. On 12 June 1929, Cras wrote from Casablanca that: 10

"I worked on my piece for 'cello and orchestra. All the groundwork is completed. The piece lasts 11-1/2 minutes, which is just right for a work of this kind. It's the same length as Ravel's Tzigane... Now I have to [re]write the 'cello part, in great detail. It's vital that I incorporate manifold technical difficulties and exploit the fundamental resources of the instrument. My intention is to dedicate the work to [Fernand] Pollain, and to ask him to look over the [solo] 'cello part so that he can suggest all the interesting modifications [possible]. From this standpoint, Pollain will be a valuable asset. He has imagination, and has composed very beautiful cadenzas in his arrangements of ['cello] concerti... For me personally, there may also be a superb, hidden collaboration in this [process]. For a composition of this nature must above all satisfy [and please] the instrumentalists, making them shine. However, I am far less comfortable with the 'cello than with the violin."

Indeed! Just as Cras had consulted on numerous occasions with Pierre Jamet when he composed for the harp, so did he collaborate with Fernand Pollain. This composition features sophisticated and ingenious fingerings, as well as extremely precise indications as to how to manoeuvre the various parts of the bow. This surely reflects Pollain's artful hand, and his enthusiasm for Cras' Légende is evident, as the composer writes on 30 July 1929: 11

"I received a whole bunch of letters from Pollain. Very enthusiastic about Légende, but he always expresses himself very emphatically: "I feel [thrust into] the joys of enthusiasm or the enthusiasm of joy [itself]... the work has turned out magnificently, and you've given me a jewel..."

Pollain premiered the work at for the Concerts Pasdeloup on 29 March 1930.

One of the central problems associated with Légende has been to decide to which period of Jean Cras' life it actually belongs. As this rhapsody incorporates folkloric elements, most probably French or Breton, I was first inclined to include it among the Breton-inspired compositions which emerged during Cras' final years. From 1929 to 1932, the composer had been promoted to Rear-Admiral and Commander of both the military and commercial ports in his native Brest. One of the more uncomfortable aspects of this promotion were the pressures this celebrated war hero and native son had to endure from the powers that were to compose along more Breton lines. Jean Cras utterly deplored and detested parochialism of any kind, especially at a time when Breton nationalism was on the rise. 12 After careful thought, I decided that Légende, sounding less Breton than the compositions which followed, should conclude Cras' experimental period, 1922-1929; I refer to these years as his musical laboratory.

Scored in A-flat Major for full orchestra (two each of flutes, oboes, B-flat clarinets, bassoons, F horns, C trumpets, tympani, one harp and strings), the work's form seems quite free, as the composer states. 13 A multiplicity of cadenzas comprise a very special feature of this work, one which has no precedent in Cras' writings, each cadenza having its own nature and texture, at times solo, at times soliloquy with minimal accompaniment, and most notably, the principal one, from measures 146-200, when the soloist's "path" receives "supervision", in effect, rhythmic dialogue with, alternately, the tympani and the bassoon; Cras, in fact, indicates suivez le violoncelle en le soutenant sans le dominer ("follow the 'cello, supporting yet not dominating him"). One must further mention that the composer greatly taxes the orchestral strings almost as much as he does the soloist, frequently echoing the virtuoso passages of the soloist in their sections.

Cras claims Légende to fall into four contrasting sections: Lent, Animé (m. 79), Assez lent, (m. 201) and Un peu plus vite (m. 247). However, I prefer to view this work as having three main sections preceded by an introduction. As, in predictable Cras fashion, all thematic material recapitulates in the final section, this work, too, may be considered cyclic. All thematic motives once again bear the Cras stamp: the ambitus of the perfect intervals, to which he adds the sixth degree of the scale, alluding to modality; harmonic functions typically follow his penchant for parallel or mediant modulations. Harmonically, this work projects the traditional concept of impressionism more fully than most of Cras' works; though his use of the whole-tone scale seems more deliberate, it is tempered by traditional diatonism.

Beginning with four dramatic chords governed both melodically and enharmonically by tritones (marked "A" at Ex. 10), and moving by mediants, the first section is essentially improvisational, sporting two themes, shared intermittently between soloist and orchestra; the first of these are marked "B" at Ex. 10, the second marked "C" at Ex. 11:

Ex. 10: Légende, opening

Ex. 11: Légende, m. 35 et seq.

Cras bases these on the mediant relationship between opening chords, but differentiates as to degree: the first is clearly whole-tonal melodically, the second's mediant harmonic movement harbours a diatonic melody; this second theme is introduced by the flute over the 'cello's virtuoso arpeggios at m. 35 et seq. Cras' second section seems to have been inspired by two Breton folk melodies, La Prophétie de Gwenc'hlan,14 and Le Vin des Gaulois15:

Ex. 12: La Prophétie de Gwenc'hlan

Ex. 13: Le Vin des Gaulois

These folk songs reflect amply the child's world of nursery rhymes and fairy tales. This section ends with a long fugal cadenza by the soloist. In fact, Cras confirms their folkloric nature twice in his précis to Légende:

Ex. 14: Légende, m. 79 et seq.

Ex. 15: Légende, m. 123, et seq.

Légende's third section (beginning at m. 201) starts particularly effectively with a bucolic introductory arpeggio in the harp, leading to an oboe solo based on the whole-tone scale and highlighted by the theme's fall and rise of the tritone. Through a quasi-improvisation on the perfect fourth, which, by this time, had become one of Cras' stamps, the 'cellist leads (from measures 208-216 et seq.) into a highly contrapuntal developmental third section; this submotive he will then transform into the upbeat of the section's second broad, warm (Cras indicated chaud in his score), rhapsodic, transitional pentatonic theme:

Ex. 16: Légende, m. 208-216

The final section includes varied restatements of the work's compliment of themes, exploding in a re-exposition of the first section's principal motive at measure 271. Polyrhythms, such as the superimposition of 5/8 over both duplets and triplets at measure 287, punctuate this section with great vitality. The composer's affection for harmonic movement by mediants and by parallel consecutive tones is well-reflected here, especially at the work's close, when after a final, brief cadenza by the soloist, the key moves from C minor to D-flat Major, to the tonic A-flat Major.

Though indeed a rhapsody for violoncello and orchestra, Cras assigns considerable prominence to virtually each instrument of the orchestra. Aside from his traditional generosity to the winds and brass, the composer is very generous to both the harp, for which he had developed great affection, the tympani, and other percussion instruments.

In Légende, Jean Cras wished to create a work representative of his travels and imagination. Without doubt, our composer had a particular fondness for the 'cello, having composed in his youth two smaller-scale works for the instrument, both of which remain unpublished. Quite possibly, he had hoped that his daughter Monique, nineteen when this work knew the light of day, and already studying both piano and 'cello, would eventually perform them all. This would not come to pass, however, as her talents lay in painting; during her seventy-year career, Mlle Cras' post-Impressionist canvases established her much-deserved reputation, and even at the time of this writing (June 2000), she still fulfils restoration contracts for many of France's national museums.

Légende's première gleaned critical acclaim, as much for the work's originality as for its performers. René Dézarnaux, who wrote in La Liberté on 1 April 1930, and René Dumesnil, whose review appeared on 6 April 1930 in L'Esprit français, were especially enthusiastic. Until the 1990's, Légende had never been recorded. Now, happily, two recordings exist. The first, with 'cellist Anne Bergquist and the Orchestre de Brocéliande, Jacques Wojciechowski, conductor, was released regionally in Brittany by the Confédération culturelle Kendalc'h in 1993; the second, with Henri Demarquette and the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, Jean-François Antonioli, conductor, was released internationally by Tympani Records in 1996. Although no commercial recording of Cras' 'Cello Sonata exists at the time of this writing (June 2000), Colette Cras and André Lévy performed and recorded it for Radio-France.

It is my sincere hope that, through the good auspices of The Internet Cello Society, Jean Cras' compositions will win favor with performers around the world to finally earn their rightful place among the masterpieces of the twentieth century 'cello literature.


J. Cras: Autobiographie (through 1921, unpublished)

J. Cras: Correspondance (1894-1932) , 4 volumes (unpublished)

J. Cras: Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, Kassel: Baerenreiter, in press. H. and Mme Duparc: Lettres à J. Cras et à Mme Cras (1901-1933), 1 volume (unpublished)

E. Schneider: Jean Cras, in the series Nos Musiciens (Paris, 1925)

L. Chevalier: Un entretien avec Jean Cras, in Guide du Concert, (Paris, 18 January 1929), p. 439-441

R. Dumesnil: La Musique contemporaine en France, (Paris, 1930), Vol. I, p. 213-214; Vol. II, p. 115-116

E. Taillemite: Dictionnire des marins français (Paris, 1932)

R. Dumesnil: Portraits de musiciens français. (Paris, 1938), chapter on Jean Cras, p. 153-159

G. Samazeuilh: Musiciens de mon temps, in the series La Renaissance du livre, chapter on Jean Cras, (Paris, 1947), p. 246-249

A. Thomazi: Trois marins compositeurs III : Jean Cras, in La Revue maritime, Nouvelle Série, No. 29, (Paris, 1948), p. 1078-1087

M. Cras: Jean Cras, in MGG, col. 1766-1768

P. Le Flem: Lorsque les marins deviennent musiciens, in Musica, No. 83, (Paris, February 1961), p. 48-49

La Villemarqué, Hersart, vicomte de. Barzaz Breiz : Chants populaires de la Bretagne. Paris: Perrin, (reprinted) 1963.

M. Fabre: L'Image d'Henri Duparc: Lettres à Jean Cras. Revue régionaliste des Pyrénées. 213-214. (Pau, January-May 1977), p. 55-72

M. Cras, and Dom Angelico Surchamp: Regard sur Jean Cras, in Zodiaque, Vol. 123, (St-Léger Vauban, January, 1980)

Bras, Jean-Yves: Connaissez-vous Jean Cras? Diapason 301 (Paris, January 1984), p. 7-8

Defrance, Yves. "Les Concours de biniou sous la IIIe République ou la naissance du spectacle folklorique". Bulletin de la Société Archéologique du Finistère, CXVI (1987), p. 191-209.

N. Labelle: Albert Roussel : Lettres et écrits, includes correspondence between Jean Cras and Albert Roussel, (Paris, 1987)

Laurent, Donatien. Aux Sources du Barzaz-Breiz : la mémoire d'un peuple. Douarnenez: ArMen, 1989.

Defrance, Yves. "Approche fonctionnelle de petits textes chantés. L'Exemple gallo. Poésies chantées de tradition orale". Rencontres pluridisciplinaires. Paris: Champion, 1991, p. 314-40.

V. de Bellaing: Dictionnaire des compositeurs de musique en Bretagne. (Nantes, 1992), p. 75-83

Defrance, Yves. Imaginaires en Bretagne: Actes du séminaire de la section ethnologie. Rennes: Institut culturel de Bretagne, 1993.

_____. Musiques traditionnelles de Bretagne I: Sonnoux et Sonerien. Morlaix: Skol Vreizh, 1996.

_____. Musiques traditionnelles de Bretagne II: Etude du répertoire à danser. Morlaix: Skol Vreizh, 1998.

Bempéchat, Paul-André. "Jean Cras and Albert Samain: Parallels and Parodoxes in the Genesis of 'Polyphème' ", Opera Journal, XXXI/1 (March 1998), p. 3-17.

_____. "A Rediscovered Masterpiece: Jean Cras' 'Deux Impromptus pour harpe' ". American Harp Journal, XVI/3 (Summer 1998), p. 5-10.

_____. " Inside Jean Cras' Laboratory: The Genesis of his 'Suite en duo' for Flute and Harp (1927): An African Diary in Music and Letters". American Harp Journal, XVI/4 (Winter 1998), p. 7-14.

_____. "Inside Jean Cras' Laboratory II: Cyclical Composition at its Zenith: The 'Quintette pour flûte, harpe, violon, alto et violoncelle' ". American Harp Journal, XVII/1 (Summer 1999), p. 7-12.

_____. "Love's Labours Found: Jean Cras' Four Pieces for Violin and Piano Rediscovered (with apologies to the Bard)". American String Teacher. In press.

_____. "Jean Cras". Revised New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. London: MacMillan, in press.

_____. The Life and Works of Jean Cras, Doctoral dissertation, Boston University, 2000.


1. Le Monde musical, November 1924, p. 379-381.

2. J'ai débuté dans la sonate pour violoncelle par le Final. Il est composé dans son ensemble, et je suis à la période où je ne sais si je dois continuer sur le chemin où je suis avancé, [ou] si j'en ai pris un mauvais. C'est un moment désagréable où mon esprit est tantôt persuadé que c'est bien, tantôt au contraire, que je dois recommencer complètement. Correspondence, Vol. I, p. 92.

3. Jean Cras: Précis pour le 'Guide du concert", undated, as provided by Mlle Cras.

4. Loc. cit.

5. Correspondence, Vol. I, p. 110 and 115.

6. Correspondence, Vol. II, p. 29.

7. Cras, Précis.

8. Correspondence, Vol. IV, p. 351.

9. Loc. cit.

10. J'ai travaillé ma pièce [pour] violoncelle et orchestre. Toute la trame est terminée. L'oeuvre durera 11-1/2 minutes, c'est ce qu'il faut pour une composition de ce genre. C'est la durée de Tzigane de Ravel... Il faut maintenant que j'écrive la partie de violoncelle dans tous ses détails. Il est indispensable d'introduire des difficultés techniques variées et d'utiliser les principales ressources de l'instrument. Mon intention est de dédier l'oeuvre à [Fernand] Pollain, et de lui demander de revoir la parti [sic] de violoncelle en me suggérant toutes les modifications intéressantes. Pollain sera précieux à ce point de vue. Il a de l'imagination, et a composé de très belles cadence [sic], dans ses arrangements de concertos... il peut là y avoir pour moi une sorte de collaboration cachée très précieuse. Car une composition de ce genre doit avant tout satisfaire les instrumentistes, et les faire briller. Or, je suis loin d'être aussi à mon aise sur le violoncelle que sur le violon. Correspondence, Vol. IV, p. 407.

11. J'ai reçu toute une tapée de lettres de Pollain. Très enthousiaste de la «Légende», mais il est toujours très emphatique dans sa façon de s'exprimer : «je suis dans la joie de l'enthousiasme ou dans l'enthousiasme de la joie... la pièce est magnifiquement réussie, et vous m'avez offert un joyau.... Correspondence, Vol. IV, p. 413.

12. Indeed, when Hitler rose to power, he promised his Breton collaborators independence for the province in exchange for their cooperation with his projected fall of France.

13. Jean Cras, précis.

14. H. de La Villemarqué, Barzas Breiz, Chants populaires de la Bretagne, Appendix, p. ii.

15. Ibid, p. iv.


Franckian Period, 1899-1910

Sept mélodies, (poems by Rodenbach, Droin, Verlaine, Baudelaire) for voice and piano (1899-1905, Ed. Salabert)
Sonate pour violoncelle et piano (1900, Ed. Durand)
Cinq poèmes intimes pour piano (1902-1911, Ed. Eschig)
Grande marche nuptiale pour orgue (1904, Ed. Schola Cantorum)
Trio pour piano, violon et violoncelle (1907, Ed. Durand)
Regina coeli, voices with organ (1908, Ed. Schola Cantorum)
Quatuor pour cordes (1909, Ed. Salabert)
Elégies (poems by Albert Samain), for voice with orchestra (1910, Ed. Durand)

The Polyphème Years, 1910-1921

Polyphème, opera in four acts on the lyric drama by Albert Samain (1910-1918, Ed. Salabert)
Deux Paysages, Maritime-Champêtre, piano solo (1917, Ed. Durand)
Quatre Danze, piano solo (1917, Ed. Salabert)
Ames d’enfants, piano, six hands, piano, four hands, also orchestrated (1918, Ed. Salabert)
L’Offrande lyrique (poems by Tagore, transl. André Gide), for voice with piano (1920, Ed. Salabert)
Image (poem by E. Schneider), for voice with piano (1921, Ed. Salabert)

The Laboratory, 1922-1929

Quintette pour piano et cordes (1922, Ed. Salabert)
Fontaines (poems by L. Jacques), for voice with piano (1923, Ed. Salabert)
Cinq Robaïyats (poems by Khayyam, transl. F. Toussaint), for voice with piano (1924, Ed. Salabert)
Dans la montagne (poems by M. Boucher), five chorales for male quartet (1925, Ed. Salabert)
Hymne en l’honneur d’une Sainte (text by J. Cras) for female voices with organ (1925, Ed. Salabert)
Deux Impromptus pour harpe (1925, Ed. Salabert)
Trio pour violon, alto et violoncelle (1925, Ed. Salabert)
Quatre petites pièces pour violon et piano : Air varé (1926, Ed. Salabert), Habañera (1927, Ed. Salabert), Evocation (1928, Ed.Salabert), Eglogue (1929, Ed. Salabert)
Suite en duo pour flûte et harpe (1927, Ed. Salabert)
Journal de bord, Suite symphonique (1927, Ed. Salabert)
La Flûte de Pan (“Pan’s Flute”, poems by L. Jacques), for voice, Pan-pipes, violin, viola and ‘cello (1928, Ed. Salabert)
Quintette pour harpe, flûte, violon, alto et violoncelle (1928, Ed. Salabert)
Vocalise-Etude , for voice and piano (1928, Ed. Leduc)
Soir sur la mer (poem by V. Hériot), for voice and piano (1929, Ed. Salabert)
Trois Noëls (poems by L. Chancerel), for voices and chorus with piano (1929, Ed. Salabert)
Légende pour violoncelle et orchestre (1929, Ed. Salabert)

The Breton Years, 1930-1932

Concerto pour piano et orchestre (1931, Ed. Salabert)
Trois chansons bretonnes (poems by J. Cras), for voice and piano (1932, Ed. Salabert)
Deux chansons du Chevalier étranger (poems by T. Malmanche), for voice and piano (1932, Ed.Salabert)

Franco-Italian pianist Paul-André Bempéchat has toured Europe and North America twice annually since 1982, and has been praised by colleague, critic and student alike for the depth and integrity of his interpretations. A renowned Chopinist, his performances of Chopin and the later works of Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann and Brahms have caused many to distinguish him as one of his generation's leading interpreters of the classical and romantic repertoire.

Son of French and Italian parents, Mr. Bempéchat was raised in France and Canada. He began to study piano at the late age of 13, and was the youngest scholarship student admitted to the elite studio of the late Artur Balsam. A gifted linguist, a graduate of The Juilliard School, the Sorbonne and Boston University, Paul-André Bempéchat also visits many university campuses yearly, giving recitals, lectures and masterclasses. Recipient of numerous awards and academic honors, Dr. Bempéchat was recently awarded First Prize in the Scholarly Papers Competition of the National Opera Association (Washington, DC) and of the Concours de Musicologie of the Institut Culturel de Bretagne (Rennes, France). His 2000-2001 season, which will take him to Britain, Ireland, Norway, Denmark, France and Italy, will project his doctoral research on one of France's unsung heroes, the brilliant, eclectic composer-scientist-polymath and Rear-Admiral Jean Cras (1879-1932). Dr. Bempéchat is also a contributor to The Revised New Grove Encyclopaedia of Music and Musicians and to Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart.

Paul-André Bempéchat enjoys home bases in Paris and Boston, springboards for international touring. His recent seasons' performances, which have gained him significant international recognition, have included appearances recital and recording engagements at Geneva's Salle Ernest Ansermet, Berlin's Konzerthaus, Stockholm’s Konserthus, Helsinki’s Finlandiatalo, Harvard University’s Sanders Theatre, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Vienna, Holland and Caramoor Festivals, and as guest at the European Piano Teachers' Festival held in Oslo in November 1994. During the 2000-2001 seasons, the artist will tour in Ireland, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Scandinavia andfulfil regular appearances in the United States. His recordings of the piano works of Jean Cras and the last piano works of Brahms will become commercially available in Spring 2001.

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