Guy Ropartz

Guy Ropartz (date unknown)

Joseph Guy Marie Ropartz (June 15, 1864 November 22, 1955) was a Breton composer and conductor. His compositions included five symphonies, three violin sonatas, cello sonatas, six string quartets, a piano trio and string trio (both in A minor), stage works, a number of choral works and other music including a Prélude, Marine et Chansons for flute, harp and string trio. Ropartz also published poetry.


Ropartz was born in Guingamp, Côtes-d'Armor, Brittany. He studied initially at Rennes. In 1885 he entered the Conservatoire de Paris, studying under Théodore Dubois, then Jules Massenet, where he became a close friend of the young Georges Enesco. He later studied the organ under César Franck.

He was appointed director of the Nancy Conservatory (at the time a National school branch of the Paris Conservatory) from 1894 to 1919, where he established classes in viola in 1894, trumpet in 1895, harp and organ in 1897, then trombone in 1900. He also founded the season of symphonic concerts with the newly created orchestra of the Conservatory, ancestor of the Orchestre symphonique et lyrique de Nancy.

Ropartz was associated with the Breton cultural renaissance of the era, setting to music the words of Breton writers such as Anatole Le Braz and Charles Le Goffic. He also supported Breton regional autonomy, joining the Breton Regionalist Union in 1898.

In the early stages of World War I his friend and fellow composer Albéric Magnard was killed defending his house from German invaders. His house was destroyed, along with several musical manuscripts. Ropartz reconstituted from memory the orchestration of Magnard's opera Guercoeur, which had been lost in the fire.

From 1919 to 1929 Ropartz was director of the Strasbourg Conservatory, which he moved into the building of the former parliament of Alsace-Lorraine. At the same time he undertook the direction of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Strasbourg, influencing young students like Charles Munch. Elected in 1949 as a member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts (5th section, musical composition), he succeeded Georges Hüe.

Ropartz also served as a juror with Florence Meyer Blumenthal in awarding the Prix Blumenthal, a grant given between 1919 and 1954 to young French painters, sculptors, decorators, engravers, writers, and musicians.[1]

He retired in 1929 and withdrew to his manor in Lanloup, Brittany. He continued to compose until 1953, however, when he became blind.


His musical style was influenced by Claude Debussy and César Franck. However he self-identified as a Celtic Breton, writing that he was the son of a country "where the goblins populate the moor and dance by the moony nights around the menhirs; where the fairies and the enchanters - Viviane and Merlin - have as a field the forest of Brocéliande; where the spirits of the unburied dead appear all white above the waters of the Bay of the Departed."[2]

Shortly after Ropartz died, Rene Dumesnil wrote in Le Monde: "There is with Ropartz a science of folklore and its proper use, which one admires; but more often than the direct use of popular motifs it is an inspiration drawn from the same soil which nourishes the work, like sap in trees."[3]




Chamber music

Sacred music

Vocal music

Voice and orchestra

Voice and piano


Piano music

Organ music

Literary works

Ropartz was also a writer of literary works, notably poetry. In his youth he published three collections of verse influenced by the Symbolist movement. In 1889 he published with Louis Tiercelin Le Parnasse Breton contemporain, an anthology of Breton poetry of the second half of the 19th century. He also participated in la Revue L’Hermine, which Tiercelin founded a short while later, in 1890.


See also


  1. "Florence Meyer Blumenthal". Jewish Women's Archive, Michele Siegel.
  2. "où les korrigans peuplent la lande et dansent, par les nuits lunaires autour des menhirs où les fées et les enchanteurs — Viviane et Merlin — ont pour domaine la forêt de Brocéliande, où les âmes des morts restés sans sépulture apparaissent toutes blanches au-dessus des flots de la baie des Trépassés."
  3. "Il y a chez Ropartz une science du folklore et de son utilisation juste qu'on admire ; mais plus souvent que l'emploi direct de motifs populaires c'est une inspiration puisée dans le terroir même qui nourrit l'œuvre, comme la sève les arbres."
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