Swiss composer. He was one of the group of composers known as Les Six. His work was varied in form, for example, the opera Antigone (1927), the ballet Skating Rink (1922), the dramatic oratorio Le Roi David/King David (1921), programme music (Pacific 231, 1923), and the Symphonie liturgique/Liturgical Symphony (1946). He also composed incidental music for Abel Gance's silent movie classics La Roue/The Wheel (1923) and Napoléon (1927).
Honneger was born in Le Havre, France, and was given his first music lessons there by the organist R C Martin. He then studied at the Zürich Conservatory, Switzerland, 1909–11, and at the Paris Conservatory 1911–13. After that he became a private pupil of Charles Widor and Vincent d'Indy and in 1914 began to compose. Though always in touch with Switzerland, he belonged mainly to the French school. He married the composer Andrée Vaurabourg, who was also attached to Les Six, though less closely.
WorksStage stage oratorios Le Roi David (1921), Judith (1925), Jeanne d'Arc au bûcher (Paul Claudel, 1938); incidental music for Phædre (d'Annunzio, 1926), Oedipe-Roi (Sophocles, 1948).
Orchestral and vocal with orchestraLa Danse des morts (Claudel) for solo voices, chorus, and orchestra (on Holbein), Chant de joie, prelude to Shakespeare's The Tempest (1923), Mouvements symphoniques: Pacific 231, Rugby, and No. 3 (1923–33), five symphonies (1930–51), Prélude, Arioso et Fugue on B.A.C.H., Pastorale d'été (1920); cello concerto; Five Poems by Guillaume Apollinaire for voice and orchestra (1910–17).
Chamber and solo vocal two violin and piano sonatas, sonatas for viola and piano, cello and piano, clarinet and piano.
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