Fauré the practical interpreter

Research output: Contributions to books, editions, reports or conference proceedingsChapterpeer-review



The element of constant surprise in Fauré’s musical lines, harmonies and rhythms has undoubtedly contributed to the ‘ineffable’ reputation long tagged to his music. The present chapter takes the epithet just as a launching point, to argue that at worst it represents inability to keep up with Fauré’s quickness of thought and musical manœuvre, and has long fed habits of soggy or overly refined performance at odds with much of what is reported of his own wishes for directness and cogency. Examples are drawn from his songs and piano and chamber music, exploring nuances of his performance markings, variants across sources, and the odd way that a few works appear, in later sources, to draw back in interpretative boldness from earlier sources. Was he also wryly reflecting on his own music when he once remarked that ‘The main problem with masterpieces is that they are surrounded by excessive respect and this ends up making them boring’? Perhaps the label ‘effable’ would have left him more gruntled.


Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFauré Studies
EditorsStephen Rumph, Carlo Caballero
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781108692267
ISBN (Print)9781108429191, 9781108453233
Publication statusPublished or Performed - 2021
EventEffable and Ineffable: Gabriel Fauré and the Limits of Criticism - University of Washington, Seattle, United States
Duration: 21 Oct 201525 Oct 2015


ConferenceEffable and Ineffable
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address

Author keywords

  • Fauré, chamber music, songs, piano, editions, composition, performance