November symphony

love-opera-victoria-baker“For me, art, and especially music, exist to elevate us as far as possible above everyday existence” said the infamous French composer Gabriel Faure.

For me, that’s what fine food, a good book or even a beautiful sunset does. It lifts me up and out of the trivialities of everyday life. The Greenwich Symphony is scheduled to provide yet another such musical opportunity in the form of their November 23-24 concerts at 8 p.m. and 4 p.m. respectively.

On the program will be works by Britten, Frank, Bizet and of course, Gabriel Faure. For tickets please log onto

Of all the composers on the program Gabriel Faure had the most turbulent love life, and since these matters usually have a direct correlation on a composer’s musical output, it’s worth noting. As a young man Faure met and fell wildly in love with Marianne Viardot. The couple were engaged but after postponing the wedding many times, Marianne finally called it off completely.

It was the first of several rebuffs for Faure. He went on to marry Rosalie Texier, a woman who did not share his fondness for public life. She preferred quiet evenings at home whilst her husband went on to dazzle audiences in Paris’ most glittering salons. It wouldn’t be long before Gabriel Faure fell in love with Emma Bardac, a beautiful banker’s wife and amateur singer. For her, he would write one of his most famous song cycles La Bonne Chanson.

But she too would rebuff him for his friend and fellow composer: Claude Debussy.

I often wonder how much of an artist’s life, whether it is a musician or a writer, seeps into his work. I used to think all of it did, but now I’m not so sure.

After all, what do we know of a composer’s life? Scraps of information we have gathered from books, old letters easily taken out of context. In fact, we have very scant information. In a way, we are a like archaeologists trying to piece together the past. But any good student of archaeology knows that our perception of history is always changing. One new find can alter a decade of belief and wipe away a whole textbook of facts.

Maybe it doesn’t really matter why Leonardo da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa or who the real Shakespeare was. Maybe what matters is the legacy they have left us. Their fabulous works of art enable us to reach beyond the mundane realm of our five senses and find a greater truth, a homecoming for the spirit.

Nonetheless, if you happen to attend the Greenwich Symphony’s November concert listen carefully to Faure’s music to see if his heartache and loss have found an eternal home, wedged between the notes.


Victoria Baker, of Greenwich, is an opera singer. Winner of many prestigious competitions, she has performed and worked with distinguished artists all over the world (notably at Lincoln Center). Should you have any questions that deserve answers and may be in print please call 203-531-7499 or e-mail [email protected]

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