Born: Paris, France, 9 June 1865
Died: Baron, Oise, France, 3 September 1914
The son of the editor of Figaro, Magnard was destined for a career in the law, but decided to become a composer after attending performances of Parsifal and Tristan und Isolde at Bayreuth in 1886.
He was an idealist: a Socialist, a Dreyfusard, and an early feminist. “Writing music,” Leon Botstein writes, “was at all times an ethical act. Beauty and justice, in his view, were aligned. Art needed to serve the cause of rectifying social injustice and promoting the truth.”
He died as he had lived, standing up for his beliefs, defending his cottage from German soldiers. Many of his scores were destroyed in the blaze, but he left behind four symphonies, four orchestral works, several chamber works and song cycles, and three operas.
- Yolande, Op. 5 (composed 1888-1891)
- Guercœur, Op. 12 (composed 1897-1900; performed 1931)
- Bérénice, Op. 19 (composed 1905-1909; performed 1911)