PAUL DUKAS (1865 - 1935)
A friend of Debussy at the Conservatoire and a pupil of Bizet’s friend Guiraud, Paul Dukas came near to winning the Prix de Rome; when he left the Conservatoire he found an early musical career as a critic and an orchestrator. His strong critical sense led him to destroy a number of his compositions and only to allow a relatively small number of works to be published. He remained influential and respected as a teacher.
By far the best known of the compositions of Dukas is the symphonic scherzo L’Apprenti sorcier, (‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice’), based on Goethe’s poem Der Zauberlehrling. The music was later popularised by its inclusion in Walt Disney’s Fantasia, with appropriate cartoon illustration. A year earlier, in 1896, Dukas had completed his only symphony, a work that deserves more attention than it has generally received.
The few surviving piano compositions by Dukas include Prélude élégiaque, based on the letters of the name of Haydn; La plainte, au loin, du faune…, suggesting Debussy’s L’après-midi d’un faune; a sonata dedicated to Saint-Saëns; and his Variations, interlude et finale sur un thème de Rameau.