Arthur Honegger

By Harry Halbreich; Roger Nichols | Go to book overview

FOUR

"King Arthur": Dramas and Triumphs

Back in Paris, life went on as before. Vaura had not been so close to Honegger over the preceding years. She didn't spend the summers of 1920 or 1921 with him and doesn't seem to have been present at the production of Le Roi David at Mézières. But now once again she became an important figure in his life, especially with the death of his parents.

His circle of friends was growing. A number of young composers, eager to profit by his advice, began to surround him and some of them became lifelong friends. The first of them was Arthur Hoérée, whom he got to know in November 1922 during a Schoenberg festival at the Vieux-Colombier. Hoérée was a young Belgian, five years Honegger's junior, who would become a very successful film composer (he collaborated with Honegger nine times between 1933 and 1952) and a remarkable musicologist. After him, in 1923, came Marcel Delannoy and Maurice Jaubert.

Honegger remained faithful too to his colleagues in Les Six, especially to Milhaud. According to Henri Hell, around this period Arthur and the singer Claire Croiza used to team up with Auric and Poulenc every week for a game of poker. 1

On 18 November 1922 Honegger received a letter from Romain Rolland asking him to write incidental music for his play Liluli, which would be produced in March. Rolland went into considerable detail and was proposing a fairly enormous score, but Honegger's contribution was restricted finally to two pages of vocal music. In November, he wrote a small piece of chamber music, Three Counterpoints, and more importantly, a new orchestral piece called Chant dejoie (Song of Joy), which he orchestrated in 1923. He also orchestrated his Cantique de Pâques, written in July 1918. Meanwhile, on 5 November his Viola Sonata was played at the Donaueschingen music days by Paul Hindemith, accompanied by Emma Luebbecke-Job, and on the 9th his friend Bernhard Seidmann (whose musical ignorance Honegger had deplored in his letter to his parents of 28 April 1915!) conducted the Bluethner Orchestra in Berlin in his Pastorale d'été. Funds toward this were forthcoming from Werner Reinhart, who also urged him to program Horace victorieux, a work he believed, rightly, to be far more important.

In December, Honegger wrote incidental music for Jean Cocteau Antigone, produced at the Théâtre de l'Atelier on the 21st. This slim score was

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