GABRIEL-MARIE (1852 - 1928)
Born in Paris on 8 January 1852, Gabriel-Marie, to use the hyphenated form of his name he adopted professionally, studied at the Paris Conservatoire and achieved a prominent position in Parisian musical life in the late-nineteenth century. He was timpanist and then chorus master of the Lamoureux Concerts from 1881 to 1887, and conducted the orchestral concerts of the societe Nationale de Musique from 1887 to 1894. A keen Wagnerian, Gabriel-Marie was among the early French visitors to Bayreuth and was chorus master for the production of Lohengrin given by Charles Lamoureux in Paris in 1887. He also conducted the concerts of Sainte-Cecile in Bordeaux, and then from 1902 settled in Marseille, conducting there during the winter months and at the Casino at Vichy during the summer until his retirement in 1912.
Besides dances, he also composed music for theatres in Paris and Marseille and wrote music criticism. He died suddenly at Puigcerda in Spain on 29th August 1928 while travelling in the Pyrenees. His son Jean Gabriel-Marie was also a composer, whose works included music for Mireio, based on the same Provencal poem as Gounod’s opera Mireille, and who was director of the Institut Gabriel-Marie in Marseille for many years until his death in 1970. He is mostly know as a French light music composer. His fame rests largely on his ‘air dans le style ancien’ La Cinquantaine (1884), but his other dance compositions are also well worth rediscovering, judging by the refreshing charm of his waltz Sous les firnes (Under the Ash Trees, 1884) and the rhythmic ingenuity of the polka Frais minois (Fresh Face).