Music Of Roland Manuel – French Radio – 1954 – Past Daily Weekend Gramophone
Roland Manuel – Isabelle and Pantelon – excerpts – Soloists, chorus and Orchestra of French Radio – Georges Delerue, cond. – 1954 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
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Music of Roland Manuel this weekend. Hardly a household name and one which may cause a few head-scratches even in his native France. Manuel was primarily known as critic, who hosted a radio program about Music via the ORTF, but he was also a talented composer.
He was born Roland Alexis Manuel Lévy in Paris, to a family of Belgian and Jewish origins. He studied composition under Vincent d’Indy and Albert Roussel. As a young man he befriended composer Erik Satie, who helped him to make numerous influential connections. In 1911, Satie introduced Roland-Manuel to Maurice Ravel, whose pupil, friend and biographer he soon became.
In 1947, he was appointed Professor of Aesthetics at the Conservatoire de Paris, where he remained until his retirement in 1961, making many contributions to musical theory and criticism, even assisting Igor Stravinsky by ghost-writing the theoretical work “The Poetics of Music”. In addition to theoretical works, he wrote and composed various works for stage, especially comic operas, and screen, developing a partnership with director Jean Grémillon, for five of whose films he composed the scores.
Roland-Manuel’s criticism included several monographs on the music of Ravel from the perspective of a respectful pupil and a lifetime friend. The titles include “Ravel”, “Ravel et son oeuvre” and “Ravel et son oeuvre dramatique”.
Arthur Honegger dedicated Pastorale d’été to Roland-Manuel.
He died in Paris in 1966.
Of his comparatively few compositions, his Comic Opera Isabelle and Pantelon was one of his most successful at the time (1922), but I don’t think there is a commercially available recording of it. This broadcast performance comes via the ORTF in Paris and it’s not clear whether this is an excerpted broadcast of a complete performance or not. The cast includes Jean-Christophe Benoit, Baritone – Gerard Friedmann, Tenor- Freda Betti, mezzo-soprano and Annik Simon, Soprano. The chorus and orchestra of the ORTF is conducted by Georges Delerue. Yes, the same Georges Delerue who went on to an illustrious and prolific career as one of France’s great film composers.