Ropartz, Guy

The son of an important Breton solicitor, passionately interested in the culture and archaeology of this particularly original region, Joseph-Guy Ropartz, born in 1964, followed a truly academic career, until his law degree, amassing prizes in all subjects. However, his two deep-seated passions were poetry and music. He choose music and defined its practice as follows: “A musician who knows his art should not have laws other than his pleasure, his sincerity and his passion…” The man from the west of France then promoted French music in the east of the country: Director of the Conservatoire of Nancy by 1914, and that of Strasbourg after 1918. In these posts, he proved himself to be a rigorous pedagogue, remarkable organiser and excellent conductor, always ready, whatever the risks of incomprehension, to produce avantgarde works: by Chausson and Magnard, for example. Like the majority of his contemporaries, he was taught by Théodore Dubois and Massenet, and Franck made an impression on him and inspired him. However, he was very soon to assert his originality and his independence, from the time of his Fantaisie in D for orchestra, written in 1894. Brittany inspired him: Les Landes, Le Dimanche breton are evocative titles. His religious faith too, the source of a considerable number of creations, of which some of the most important are Psaume CXXXVI, for choir, organ and orchestra, dedicated to Gabriel Fauré, a tragic meditation following the death of a son just two years of age. In terms of longevity, and also by the scope and variety of his output, Ropartz is comparable to Florent Schmitt. In terms of his attachment to his country, he is reminiscent of Déodat de Séverac. However, there is in him a robust love of life which combines strangely with a rigorous, not to say austere, religious fervour. The later photographs of Joseph-Guy Ropartz are reminiscent of a biblical prophet and he was indeed above all a missionary: by the music of his age and his country and the artistic and spiritual values in which he had a profound belief.

Philippe LETHEL

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