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MENTOR & MÉTIER

WithCamille Saint-Saens: Faure's Mentor

Faure's appointments at the Conservatoire national de musique et de declamation span 24 years, from 1896-1920. As a professor of composition, Faure influenced a generation of composers and counted among his students Maurice Ravel, Nadia Boulanger, Florent Schmitt, Charles Koechlin, and Jean Roger-Ducasse. As the director of the Conservatoire from 1905 through 1920, Faure effected bold reforms in the institution's administration and curriculum, some of which resulted in faculty revolts and resignations. While many of the curricular reforms were inspired by initiatives already in place at the Schola Cantorum, they were unprecedented at the Conservatoire, and constituted a radical departure from the way in which musical education was conceived there in the early 1900s. 1

Assessments of Faure's roles as professor and director range from those that are egregiously panegyric to those that allude to deficiencies in his style of teaching and manner of administration. In print, Faure had far more supporters than detractors. Journalists Gaston Carraud, Jean Marnold, Alfred Bruneau and Pierre Lal02 routinely applauded Faure's innovations as director, while Emile Vuillermoz and Charles Koechlin wrote sentimentally about their former teacher's pedagogy. The commentary of Lalo, in particular, is significant. In his articles for Le Temps, we find complete support for Faure, composer, educator and director, coupled with unremittingly nasty attacks on Faure's immediate predecessors as director, Ambroise Thomas and Theodore Dubois. However, unfavorable assessments of Faure as director of the Conservatoire do exist, particularly in the aftermath of the controversial reforms Faure effected in 1905. These are found in Le Menestrel and La Revue musicale, which favored a preservation of the status quo and praised the administrations of Thomas and Dubois.