Albert (Charles Paul Marie) Roussel


Roussel lost both his parents as a child, and so was brought up by his grandfather, mayor of Tourcoing, the town of his birth.  His study of mathematics led to a career in the navy, which he joined in 1889, travelling widely and absorbing much of the Indo-Chinese culture to which he was exposed.  He resigned in 1894 to study music in Paris with Eugene Gigout, entering the Schola Cantorum in 1898.  There he studied under d'Indy until 1907, and his first major works date from this period, while already in his mid-thirties.

From 1902 he had taught counterpoint at the Schola Cantorum, taking leave to revisit India in 1909.  The outbreak of war in 1914 led him to volunteer for conscription, but at 45 he was considered too old and acted instead as an ambulance driver.  After the war he settled in Normandy until his death in 1937.

Originally influenced by French Impressionism, Roussel later came to embrace the prevalent Neo-Classicism with light orchestration, finely-wrought structures and a parallel flirtation with the jazz idiom.


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