French composer Albert Roussel was born in Tourcoing (in northern France, on the Belgian border) on 5 April 1869, and was initially interested in mathematics, rather than music, and worked for the French Navy. He began to study harmony privately, then composition at the Schola Cantorum de Paris. He learned from Vincent d'Indy and, at the same time, taught students including Erik Satie, Edgard Varèse and, later, Bohuslav Martinů.
After serving in World War I, he bought a summer house in Normandy, where he devoted much time to composition, and became prominent in France during the period between the wars. Three concerts of his music in Paris to celebrate his sixtieth birthday also featured the piano suite Homage to Albert Roussel by a series of composers including Honegger, Ibert and Poulenc.
Albert Roussel died in Royan in south-west France on 23 August 1937, aged sixty-eight.
CD Spotlight. A Zany, Madcap Farce - Gerald Fenech listens to Albert Roussel's operetta 'Le Testament de la Tante Caroline'. '... vibrant playing full of unalloyed joy.'
CD Spotlight. Benjamin Britten and James Joyce - Giuseppe Pennisi listens to two sets of English folk and other songs. '... very good listening ...'
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.'
CD Spotlight. Engagingly Delivered - Robert Meyer's 'Discovering the Double Bass', heard by the late Howard Smith. '... a rare and welcome initiative ...'
CD Spotlight. Real Gems - Paris Conservatoire connections for flute and piano, heard by Geoff Pearce. '... a good addition to any collection ...'
CD Spotlight. Thematic Economy - Orchestral music by Albert Roussel, heard by Robert Anderson
CD Spotlight. Second Fiddle? - Symphonies by Albert Roussel, reviewed by Howard Smith. '... clarity, focus and sheer ambience.'