Composer. An important figure of 20th Century French music. A contemporary of Debussy and Ravel, he forged his own path as an artist with little regard for Impressionism and other trends. Roussel's mature style is noted for its rigorous use of form, lyrical restraint, and complex harmonies. His most popular works are the ballets "The Spider's Feast" (1913) and "Bacchus and Ariane" (1930). Critics consider the Symphony No. 3 in G minor (1930) the best of his four symphonies. Albert-Charles-Paul-Marie Roussel was born into a wealthy family in Tourcoing, France. Orphaned at age eight, he was raised by his grandfather and other relatives. The sea was his first love and after attending the Ecole Navale he served for five years in Indochina as an officer of the French Navy. It was not until 1894, when he was 25, that he began to study music in earnest, later enrolling at the Schola Cantorum in Paris. Schola founder Vincent D'Indy was so impressed with Roussel's abilities that he named him professor of counterpoint in 1902, before his studies were complete. His pupils there included Erik Satie and Edgar Varese. With the outbreak of World War I Roussel returned to military duty as a transportation officer and saw action at Verdun and the Battle of the Marne. From 1922 until his death he spent his summers composing at his home on the Normandy coast, and enjoyed growing international esteem for his music. The Third Symphony was commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and despite frail health he traveled to the United States for the premiere. His grave at Varengeville overlooks the sea he adored. Roussel's other major works include the exotic opera-ballet "Padmavati" (1923), the tone poem "Pour une fete de printemps" (1920), the Symphonies Nos. 2 (1922) and 4 (1935), a Piano Concerto (1927), a String Quartet (1932), and a String Trio (1937).
Bio by: Bobb Edwards
Blanche Preisach Roussel