Composers of Today: A Comprehensive Biographical and Critical Guide to Modern Composers of All Nations

By David Ewen | Go to book overview
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Paul Dupin 1865-

PAUL DUPIN, one of the most undeservedly neglected of modern composers, was born at Roubaix on August 14, 1865. His mother was descended from a long line of musicians, and it is from her that he inherited his musical inclinations. Dupin reecived a solid education at the College of Roubaix, at the Institut de Melle-lès Gand, and at the School of Arts and Sciences, at Tournai.

While yet a boy, a serious accident suddenly deprived him of his hearing, and left him stone-deaf for several years. This affliction caused him unspeakable agony and horror. Already sensitive to beautiful music, he suddenly found himself deprived of that which he loved most--the world of sound and tones; he also secluded himself from all friends and play. His childhood was, therefore, bleak and gray. Fortunately, at the age of fourteen his hearing returned to him as a result of a skilful operation. But the tragedy was to leave permanent fingerprints upon his soul. His life-long gloom and morbidity, from which he has never been able to free himself, is undoubtedly traceable to his early tragedy.

After his schooling, Dupin was for a long time an employe in the office of a railroad company. By his twenty-first year he had risen considerably in his field, and a respectably prosperous future stretched before him. It was then that he decided to do the brave thing, the thing about which he had been dreaming during long, dull hours of work at the railroad office. He decided to escape to Paris and there to devote his life to music. Having definitely made up his mind, Dupin would listen to no arguments. He followed his plan and plunged himself, somewhat deliriously, into the milieu of Paris musical life-- studying music feverishly from textbooks, and attending all the concerts that his slim purse would permit. It might be added that, altho until this day Paul Dupin has suffered the most abject poverty and deprivation, he has never regretted his decision to surrender a successful commercial career for the sake of music.

He first attracted attention with a fluent string quartet, and with several compositions inspired by Romain Rolland's Jean Christophe. Since that early string quartet, Dupin's pen has been incredibly productive, producing a mountain of, for the most part, excellent music in every conceivable form. He boasts of more than six hundred manuscripts, of which only a most pathetic number have reached performance.

During his entire fertile artistic career which spans more than three decades, Dupin's name and work have been enshrouded in a most inexplicable obscurity. Altho the leading French critics have repeatedly pointed to the inherent talent of all of Dupin's music, the Parisian audiences have remained sublimely indifferent to him, with the result that performances of his music have been so few and far between as to make his name virtually unknown.

In recent years, the French press has been publishing innumerable articles about "The Case of Paul Dupin." Here, it was stated unequivocally, was a composer of genuine distinction who was permitted to languish in undeserving obscurity and poverty. The leading French critics have been unanimous in speaking on behalf of Dupin's music. "If one excepts Fauré and Duparc," wrote Jean Huré about Dupin's melodic gift,

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Dupin: dū-păN′

-67-

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