excerpt from the booklet of the CD Albert Cahen d’Anvers - intégrale des mélodies
Albert Cahen d’Anvers is brought up in a family of bankers. His brothers, Edouard, Raphael and Louis are all into business. Only Albert, considered by his family as an original, one might say a marginal, seeks for a musical career.
Serious student of César Franck, one of the fathers of French modern music, Albert Cahen claims himself and against his family, composer.
The creation of the opera “The Venitian” dedicated to Franck brings up this thought to his master: “Monday’s evening has been one of the best musical evenings in my life […] I hoped it would be good but my expectation has been exceeded.”
Lucien Paté, poet and jurist, friend of César Franck and Albert Cahen, will inspire melodies to both of them, particularly the poem Lied, set on music and dedicated by César Franck “to my friend Albert Cahen”, and Cahen’ melody “Son âme” (“His soul”) also set on music on a poem by Lucien Paté.
Albert Cahen’s music production is significant. It comprises a mythological poem, Endymion, operas, Dianora, the Vénitien, comic operas, Louisette... a lyrical drama La femme de Claude, ballets Fleur des neiges, La belle au bois dormant, stage music of Victor Hugo’s Burgraves, a Triumphal March written for the 1900’s universal exhibition, music pieces for chamber music...
César Franck’s influence can be seen through a serious concern about harmony, and an obvious will of good structures in Cahen’s melodies. His corpus of melodies comprise cycles as well as separate melodies, and we can see a great diversity in the ambiances and their musical processing.
His musical references and his profound devotion to the musical world surrounding him are felt in his whole work, particularly through the many dedications present in his melodies.
Furthermore, in his private hotel, l’Hôtel de Bourbon-Busset, rue de Grenelle where he lives, Albert Cahen gives concert evenings in which gather together all the Parisian famous people of the time, a good financial supply for musicians and meeting opportunities for everyone. It is there that the painter Auguste Renoir will make his famous portrait in 1881. (see above)