French composer and critic Paul Dukas was born in Paris on 1 October 1865. His mother was a pianist, but she died in childbirth when Paul was five. At fourteen he began to compose and two years later began to study at the Paris Conservatoire, where he became friends with Debussy. His composition teacher was Ernest Guiraud.
His works include the recently rediscovered early overture Le Roi Lear, the ballet La Péri, the opera Ariane et Barbe-bleue and a Symphony in C, but all have been overshadowed by his most famous composition, the scherzo L'apprenti sorcier, used in Disney's film Fantasia.
Dukas had a parallel career as music critic, writing regularly for several French journals, and later in life, taught composition at the Paris Conservatoire and the Ecole Normale de Musique, influencing the future careers of Jehan Alain, Carlos Chávez, Maurice Duruflé, Olivier Messiaen, Manuel Ponce and Joaquín Rodrigo.
Paul Dukas died in Paris on 17 May 1935, aged sixty-nine.
CD Spotlight. A Change of Direction - French music by Debussy, Dukas and Roussel, played by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Domingo Hindoyan, enjoyed by Geoff Pearce. '... stellar performances ...'
CD Spotlight. An Additional Significance and Poignancy - Gerald Fenech listens to César Franck orchestral music, recorded in Ukraine. 'Francisco Varela draws the very best from the Lviv National Philharmonic Orchestra of Ukraine, and performances are consistently fresh, alive and often compelling.'
CD Spotlight. The Magic of Ballets Russes - Giuseppe Pennisi listens to Warner Classics' box set. '... a gem which should be on the shelves of all those interested in the music of the early decades of the twentieth century ...'
Ensemble. Fresh and Appealing - Mike Wheeler listens to the Françaix Wind Trio
CD Spotlight. Saying Goodbye - Music in response to Debussy's early death, reviewed by Geoff Pearce. 'The performances are great all round, and this is a useful addition to anyone's collection.'
Ensemble. Risky on Paper - Mark Elder and the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain impress Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Mellow Lyricism - Chabrier, Tchaikovsky, Rakhmaninov and Dukas from Alexandra Dariescu, Jamie Phillips and the Hallé Orchestra, heard by Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Priceless Music-making - The horn playing of Dennis Brain, heard by the late Howard Smith. '... a sheer delight ...'
Ensemble. 'Fantasia' Around The World - Giuseppe Pennisi visits the big screen in Rome
Ensemble. Quite Stunning - The 2015 Three Choirs Festival, enjoyed by Roderic Dunnett
CD Spotlight. Distinctive Skillfulness - Musical stories for narrator and orchestra, heard by Howard Smith. 'Prokofiev, Britten and Dukas slot together to vivid effect.'
Ensemble. A Seasonal Nod - Derby Concert Orchestra's Christmas concert, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Luminous Scoring - Jongen, Dukas, Fauré, Respighi and Messiaen from Jonathan Scott, Cristian Mandeal and the Hallé Orchestra, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Luxuriant Music - Orchestral works by Paul Dukas, heard by Patric Standford. '... a fine performance ...'
A Golden Treasury - Havergal Brian on European and American music, read by Patric Standford
Thoughtfulness of Approach - A recital by Australian pianist Jayson Gillham, reviewed by Bill Newman
CD Spotlight. Sovereign Horn Territory - Music for horn and orchestra, recommended by Howard Smith. '... stunning breath control and consummate understanding ...'
Rui dos Reis - Jennifer Paull interviews and investigates the Portuguese composer-pianist