Autumnal Fauré

Autumn is the subject of one of Gabriel Fauré’s most celebrated art songs. The season becomes a metaphor for the elusiveness and inevitability of time, the nature of memory, and ultimate mortality.

A 33-year-old Fauré wrote Automne, Op. 18, No. 3 in 1878, the year the Eiffel Tower was under construction for the Great Paris Exhibition. The text is by the poet Paul-Armand Silvestre:

Autumn, time of misty skies and heart-breaking horizons,
of rapid sunsets and pale dawns,
I watch your melancholy days flow past like a torrent.

My thoughts borne off on the wings of regret (as if our time could ever be relived!)
Dreamingly wander the enchanted slopes where my youth once used to smile.

In the bright sunlight of triumphant memory
I feel the scattered roses reblooming in bouquets;
and tears well up in my eyes, tears which my heart
at twenty had already forgotten!

There’s something unsettling about the circular quality of Fauré’s Automne. Persistently undulating eighth notes in the piano give us a sense of numb timelessness. We feel trapped in an inescapable cycle, not unlike the repeating minimalist patterns of Philip Glass. Memories loop and repeat like cinematic flashbacks. Ominous, sometimes restless, interjections emerge from the piano’s bass line. In the final bars, the vocal line reaches a powerful, wrenchingly defiant F-sharp climax before sinking into final resignation.

Mezzo-soprano Claudine Carlson’s 1984 live Town Hall concert recording preserves the song’s original key of B minor- the uniquely haunting and mysterious key of Schubert’s “Unfinished” Symphony:

Additional Recordings

About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

1 thought on “Autumnal Fauré

  1. L’autunno è triste , muore la natura ,forse anche una piccola parte di noi stessi . Nell’autunnale di Faurè ,avverto questa questa sensazione . Non sono un pianista ,ma un chitarrista , e amante della chitarra classica , trovo riscontro nelle opere di Fernando Sor .

    “Autumn is sad, dying nature, perhaps even a little part of ourselves. Nell’autunnale Faurè, I feel that this feeling. I’m not a pianist, but a guitarist, and lover of classical guitar, I find reflected in works by Fernando Sor.”

Leave a Comment

Send this to a friend