Prophets Without Honour is the first book to describe in detail the solo vocal works of three very different French composers from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, namely Widor, Vierne and Tournemire.
The name of Widor is well-known, principally because of his famous ‘Toccata’, Vierne and Tournemire were his pupils. Widor composed in every field of music – orchestral, chamber, opera as well as for the organ – but his solo songs are almost completely forgotten.
Louis Vierne, the blind organist of Notre-Dame cathedral for over 30 years led a tragic and tortured life, described here in some detail; in his solo songs he found the perfect medium to exorcise his many griefs and frustrations.
Charles Tournemire, a more recherché figure, whose life’s work was to compose for the glory of God, wrote a huge amount of music – symphonies, operas, oratorios – most of it unpublished and unperformed to this day. The solo song was something which occupied him only briefly (1900-10) and yet he composed some of the most important examples of this genre.
Prophets Without Honour takes a detailed look at the lives and mélodies of these composers, providing a fascinating glimpse into the development of French music as it tried to free itself from the all-pervading German influence. It describes each mélodie composed, contains many musical illustrations, appendices, a discography, a catalogue of each composer’s vocal works and a comprehensive bibliography which will be invaluable to readers.