Born in Ambert, Emmanuel Chabrier had from early childhood a remarkable gift for pianistic improvisation. Much as the young Chabrier wanted to become a musician, his family forced him to attend law school and upon graduation he joined the French civil service. He continued to compose in his spare time, and entertained composers such as Camille Saint-Saens and Jules Massenet at his home. After Henri Duparc persuaded him of the greatness of the music of Richard Wagner, Chabrier resigned from his post in 1880 to pursue music as a full time occupation. A visit to Spain led to the creation of his most famous piece, the orchestral rhapsody España. Despite his attempts to emulate Wagner, it was his piano writing which was to be most influential, providing models for amongst others Debussy, Ravel and Poulenc with his harmonic dexterity and creative use of textures.