Pierre de Bréville

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Pierre de Bréville (left) & Jacques Thibaud, Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Pierre Eugène Onfroy de Bréville[1] (21 February 1861 – 24 September 1949) was a French composer.


Pierre de Bréville was born in Bar-le-Duc, Meuse. Following the wishes of his parents, he studied law with the goal of becoming a diplomat. However, he abandoned his plans after a few years and entered the Conservatoire de Paris. He began his musical studies with Théodore Dubois (1880–1882), later taking courses under the direction of César Franck.

He became a professor, teaching counterpoint at the Schola Cantorum in Paris (1898–1902). Following a twelve-year break, he taught classes in chamber music composition at the Conservatoire de Paris (1914–1918).

He established himself as a music critic and became well known for his reviews and commentary in Mercure de France, Le Courrier musical and La Revue blanche. He died in Paris.

Although de Bréville was not prolific, he lavished attention to his own compositions, producing several highly original works remembered for their quality. He also completed the orchestration of César Franck's unfinished opera Ghiselle with Vincent d'Indy and Ernest Chausson.

Selected compositions[edit]

Orchestral works
  • La Nuit de décembre
  • Stamboul, Orchestral Suite
  • Tête de Kenwark, Scène lyrique for cello and orchestra after a dramatic poem by Leconte de Lisle
Chamber music
  • Sonata No.1 in C minor for violin and piano (1918–1919)
  • Une flûte dans les vergers for flute and piano (1920)
  • Pièce for oboe (or flute, or violin) and piano (1923)
  • Poème dramatique for cello and piano (1924)
  • Prière (D'après le Cantique de Molière) for cello and organ (or piano) (1924)
  • Sonatina for oboe (or flute, or violin) and piano (1925)
  • Sonata No.2 "Sonate fantaisie en forme de rondeau" for violin and piano (1927)
  • Sonata in D minor for cello and piano (1930)
  • Fantaisie appassionata for cello and piano (1934)
  • Sonata for violin and piano (1942)
  • Sonata for violin and piano (1943)
  • Sonata for viola and piano (1944)
  • Concert à trois for violin, cello, and piano (1945)
  • Sonata for violin and piano (1947)
  • Fantaisie for guitar
  • Trio à cordes
  • Trio d'anches
  • Suite brève for organ (or harmonium) (1896)
  • Prélude, méditation et prière for organ without pedals (1912)
  • Deuxième suite brève en cinq parties for organ (or harmonium) (1922)
  • Fantaisie: Introduction, fugue et finale (c.1900)
  • Portraits de maîtres (Portraits of Masters) (1907)
  1. Gabriel Fauré
  2. Vincent d'Indy
  3. Ernest Chausson
  4. César Franck
  • Impromptu et choral (1912)
  • Stamboul: rhythmes et chansons d'Orient, 4 Pieces (1921)
  • Prélude et fugue (1923)
  • Sonate en ré bémol (Sonata in D) (1923)
  • Sept esquisses (7 Sketches) (1926)
  • Quatre sonates (1939)
  • Fantasia appassionata
  • La forêt charmée for voice and piano (1891); words by Jean Moréas
  • Epitaphe for voice and piano (1899); words taken from the tombstone of Marie Dupuis in the "Église de Senan"
  • Le Furet du bois joli for voice and piano (1899); words by Jean Bénédict
  • Poèmes de Jean Lorrain mis en musique (Poems of Jean Lorrain Set to Music) (1899?)
  1. La mort des lys
  2. La belle au bois
  3. La petite Ilse
  • Quatre mélodies pour voix moyennes (Four Songs for Medium Voice) with piano accompaniment (1912)
  1. Une jeune fille parle; words by Jean Moréas
  2. Venise marine; words by Henri de Régnier
  3. Berceuse; words by Henri de Régnier
  4. Sous les arches de roses; words by Charles van Lerberghe
  • Hymne à Venus, Vocal duo or chorus in 2 parts in phrygian mode (c.1885); words by Auguste Villiers de l'Isle-Adam
  • Messe (Mass) for soprano, tenor, baritone, mixed chorus (STB), string quartet, harp and organ (1890s)
  • Sainte Rose de Lima, Scène mystique for soprano, female chorus and orchestra (1890s); words by Félix Naquet
  • Tantum ergo sacramentum veneremur cernui, Hymne au Saint Sacrement for mezzo-soprano, female chorus and organ (c.1900)
  • Les Cèdres du Liban (Cedars of Lebanon) for mixed chorus a cappella
  • Motets pour la messe des morts
  • Salut for soloists, female chorus and organ or harmonium


  • Les Fioretti du père Franck, (1935–1938), a biography of César Franck
  • Une histoire du théâtre lyrique en France


  1. ^ Harvard Biographical Dictionary of Music.

External links[edit]