Maurice Jaubert – Jeanne d’Arc (1937) : symphonie concertante for soli, choir and orchestra – Jacqueline Brumaire, Soprano – French National Orchestra – Jean Martinon, conductor – 1952 Concert performance.
Continuing our seemingly endless archeological dig through the vault and unearthing broadcasts of rarities – here’s another one which should be tantalizing for collectors of rare French broadcasts. A performance from 1952 of Maurice Jaubert’s 1937 Jeanne D’arc; his Symphony Concertante for Soprano, choir and orchestra featuring the celebrated Opera Comique Soprano Jacuqeline Brumaire and the French national Orchestra, led by Jean Martinon.
According to Jaubert’s Wikipedia page, this work, along with several other pieces from this concert which celebrated his work were issued privately as part of a 2-cd set. That set is long out of print, but this recording comes from French Radio directly. But asid from that, this is about the only performance which has been done of this work by this extraordinary composer whose life was cut short by World War 2.
Maurice Jaubert (1900–1940) was born in Nice on January 3, 1900, he was the second son of François Jaubert, a lawyer who would become the president of the Nice bar, and of the former Haydée Faraut. He received his high school education at the Lycée Masséna, where he graduated in 1916. During this period, he also enrolled at the Nice Conservatory of music where he studied harmony, counterpoint and piano. He was awarded the first piano prize in 1916.
Jaubert left for Paris and studied law and literature at the Sorbonne. When he returned to his native town in 1919, he was the youngest lawyer in France. His first compositions date back this period but soon after he undertook his military service and became officer in engineering. Demobilized in 1922, Jaubert decided to give up law practice and devote all his time to music. The next year, he completed his musical education in Paris with Albert Groz.
Jaubert’s compositions at the time include songs, piano pieces, chamber music, and divertissements. He wrote his first stage music in 1925 for a play by Calderon, Le Magicien prodigieux, using the Pleyela. He was then hired by Pleyel to record rolls on the Pleyela, a revolutionary player piano at the time. Indeed, Jaubert was always attracted by technical innovations that could serve his artistic aspirations. While working on this play, he met a young soprano, Marthe Bréga, who would sing most of his vocal compositions. They married in 1926, with Maurice Ravel as Jaubert’s best man. They had a daughter, Françoise, in 1927.
In 1929, while pursuing his work for the concert hall and the stage, Maurice Jaubert began writing and conducting for cinema. Among his most important collaborations in the following decade were Alberto Cavalcanti’s Le Petit Chaperon Rouge; Jacques and Pierre Prévert’s L’Affaire est dans le sac; Jean Vigo’s Zero for Conduct and L’Atalante; René Clair’s Quatorze Juillet and Le Dernier Milliardaire; Julien Duvivier’s Carnet de bal (Life Dances On) and La Fin du Jour (The End of a Day); Henri Storck’s Belgian documentaries LÎle de Pâques and Regards sur la Belgique ancienne; and Marcel Carné’s Drôle de drame, Hôtel du Nord, Quai des brumes (Port of Shadows), and Le Jour se lève (Daybreak).
Although he understood and appreciated film, scoring them was but one of Jaubert’s creative activities. As music director of Pathé-Nathan studio, he conducted the film scores of several other composers, including Arthur Honegger and Darius Milhaud. He regularly conducted at concerts in France and abroad. His writings comprise articles and lectures, as well as a large number of letters that capture his political opinions. how he viewed his times, and his musical tastes (for example, he was a strong supporter of Kurt Weill when that composer was widely misunderstood).
War, however, disrupted Jaubert’s artistic path. Mobilized on September 1939, he joined an engineering company he would command as a reserve captain. His letters to his wife reflect a spirit of sacrifice tinged with deep humanism. Jaubert did not live to his last two compositions, written at his base camp. Fatally wounded in action, he died a few hours later at the Baccarat Hospital on June 19, 1940.
Jacqueline Brumaire debuted on 13 October 1946 at the Opéra-Comique as the Countess in Le nozze di Figaro. She then embarked on a successful career at that opera house, being admired particularly in roles for lyric soprano from French and Italian operas: Mimi in La bohème, Micaëla in Carmen, the title heroine in Massenet’s Manon, Antonia in Les contes d’Hoffmann, Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte, and Mireille in Gounod’s opera under the same title.
She sang Emma Bovary in the 1951 Opéra-Comique premiere of the opera Madame Bovary by Emmanuel Bondeville (in 1962 she sang in the same opera at the Paris Opéra). At Paris Opéra she had a very successful career her singing roles including Juliette in Roméo et Juliette by Gounod, Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, Pamina in Die Zauberflöte, and Violetta in La Traviata. She also performed in the other main opera houses in France: Marseille, Nice, Bordeaux, Strasbourg, Lyon and Toulouse. In 1956 she debuted at La Scala, Milan as Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte, in 1957 as Louise in the opera of the same name by Charpentier, in the season of 1956-57 as Concepción in L’heure espagnole by Maurice Ravel.
She appeared as a guest in Johannesburg (1957) and in Prague (1967), in the Opéra Royal de Wallonie (1964 in title role in Thaïs by Massenet) and in Oran (1961). In 1962 she took part in Toulouse at the premiere of the opera Hop! Signor by Manuel Rosenthal.
She sang the title role in Esclarmonde by Massenet on 19 November 1963 during the concert performance of that opera for RTF (Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française). In 1969 she sang the role of Hélen (Elena) during the concert performance of Les vêpres siciliennes which was made available as a commercial recording.
From her other versatile stage repertoire, she sang Konstanze in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, the Marschallin in the Der Rosenkavalier, Renata in The Fiery Angel by Prokofiev (Opéra-Comique, 1967), and Béatrice in Un sguardo sul ponte by Renzo Rossellini (Bordeaux 1965, possibly the first French performance of that opera).
In 1981 she started to teach at the Conservatoire in Nancy, preparing among others Chinese singers for their first performances of Carmen in the People’s Republic of China. From 1992 up to her death in October of 2000, she was a member of the Académie de Stanislas in Nancy. She published an autobiography La Baraka ou si Jacqueline Brumaire m’était contée.