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Honegger, Arthur

(b Le Havre, 10 March 1892; d Paris, 27 Nov 1955). Swiss-French composer. A member of Les Six, his serious-minded musical aesthetic was entirely different from that of others in the group. He developed unusual musical and dramatic forms in large-scale works for voices and orchestra, and was one of the 20th century's most dedicated contrapuntists, with a clear indebtedness to Bach. His language is essentially tonal but characterized by a highly individual use of dissonance. Despite his admiration for Debussy and Ravel, his music is often rugged and uncompromising.

1. Life.

2. Works.





Honegger, Arthur

1. Life.

Honegger's parents were both Swiss. His father left Switzerland in the 1870s to join the colony of Swiss at the French port of Le Havre; he returned to marry Julie Ulrich in May 1891. The couple resided in Le Havre with their family until 1913, when they retired to Zürich. The eldest of four children, Honegger studied the violin and harmony (with R.-C. Martin) as a child in Le Havre. He then spent two years at the Zürich Conservatory, where his teachers included Friedrich Hegar (composition), Willem de Boer (violin) and Lothar Kempter (theory); his discovery of the music of Wagner, Strauss and Reger had a profound effect on his emergent musical language. In 1911 he enrolled at the Paris Conservatoire: the need to commute there twice-weekly by train was no impediment for Honegger, a railway enthusiast. (The other two great passions in his life were sport, particularly rugby, and fast cars, especially his beloved Bugatti.) When his family returned to Switzerland in 1913, he settled in Montmartre, residing there until his death. During his seven years as a student at the Paris Conservatoire, he studied with Capet (violin), Gédalge (counterpoint and fugue), Widor (composition and orchestration), d'Indy (conducting), Emmanuel (history) and others. Fellow students included Tailleferre, Auric, Ibert (with whom he collaborated on two large-scale works in the 1930s) and Milhaud, who became a close friend. His music was first heard publicly in Paris in July 1916.

After a liaison with the soprano Claire Croiza that produced a son, Honegger married the pianist Andrée ‘Vaura’ Vaurabourg on 10 May 1926. (Honegger had been a co-founder of the Centre Musical et Dramatique Indépendant and had met Vaurabourg through the centre's concerts at the Salle Oedenkoven.) Because Honegger required complete solitude to compose, the couple resided separately for most of their married life. They lived together briefly only after Vaurabourg was seriously injured in a car accident (1935–6) and in the last years of Honegger's life when he was too ill to live alone. Vaurabourg was a superb pianist and became one of the most highly regarded teachers of harmony, counterpoint and fugue in Paris, numbering Boulez among her pupils. Honegger respected her musical judgment above all others and she usually accompanied him on his frequent and extensive tours throughout Europe and the Americas, playing the piano parts in his chamber works, accompanying his songs and performing his solo piano music.

Although Honegger was a member of ‘Les nouveaux jeunes’ and, subsequently of ‘Les Six’, he shared with the other members a stimulating companionship rather than a group aesthetic, the existence of which he always denied. While he undoubtedly benefited from the immense publicity accorded to ‘Les Six’, his own distinctive musical language attracted widespread acclaim even before his music for René Morax's Le roi David (1921) catapulted him to international prominence. The series of large-scale dramatic works and major symphonic scores he composed during the following 30 years established him as one of the most significant composers of his generation. Nearly all his music was recorded during his lifetime, some under his own direction. He also made pioneering and extensive contributions to the development of music for film (43 scores) and radio (eight programmes).

During World War II Honegger taught at the Ecole Normale de Musique and wrote idiosyncratic music criticism for Comoedia. The 1940s saw an intensification of his ties with Switzerland; he increased his visits to the country and wrote more works for Swiss festivals and performers, among them Paul Sacher and his orchestras in Basle and Zürich. After suffering a coronary thrombosis in America (August 1947), his poor health severely limited his musical activities. His depressed state is clearly reflected in the trenchant tone of his two books, Incantation aux fossiles (Lausanne, 1948) and Je suis compositeur (Paris, 1951; Eng. trans., 1966), and his address ‘The Musician in Modern Society’, delivered to the 1952 UNESCO Conference. His many honours include election to the Institut de France (1938), foreign membership in the Académie des Beaux-Arts, the presidency of the Confédération Internationale des SACEM and an honorary doctorate from the University of Zürich (1948).

Honegger, Arthur

2. Works.

For Honegger, compositional inspiration was often stimulated by extra-musical sources, though his music is less often programmatic. His student works sometimes display a striking indebtedness to Debussy and Ravel, but he soon found a more individual language. His first successful orchestral work, the symphonic poem Le chant de Nigamon (1917), based on a grisly episode in Le souriquet by Gustave Aimardin which the Iroquois Chief Nigamon sings as he is burned alive by the enemy, reveals his natural sense for dramatic music. Also predating Le roi David is a surprisingly large corpus of chamber music which includes two violin sonatas (1918 and 1919) a Viola Sonata (1920) and a Cello Sonata (1920). In places, his incidental music for Le dit des jeux du monde (1918) includes complex contrapuntal writing which suggests parallels with Schoenberg's musical language in the works immediately preceding World War I, notably Pierrot lunaire. His two orchestral works Pastorale d'été (1920) and Horace victorieux (1921) are strikingly contrasted: the former is tender, relaxed and lyrical, while the latter is massive, complex and powerful.

Le roi David (1921, rev. 1923), in its original version as a 27-movement incidental score for Morax's drame biblique, was composed in two months, between February and April 1921. The première of this staged version (11 June 1921) was followed by 11 further performances, and the favourable response from audience and critics encouraged Morax and Honegger to produce a concert version for larger forces; apart from rescoring, the music remained unchanged. With a narration provided by Morax to link the items, this ‘psaume symphonique’ was widely performed: in Paris, for instance, it was mounted on consecutive nights for three months. The work secured Honegger's international reputation, and he was soon dubbed ‘Le roi Arthur’. A series of tonal and thematic correspondences unite the work, whose dramatic impact is ensured by the tightly controlled relationship between the dramatic and musical emotive peaks. Honegger later provided incidental music for Judith, another of Morax's biblical dramas: this score too was reworked, producing both an opéra sérieux (1925) and an action musicale for the concert hall (1927). As in Le roi David, the musical language is fundamentally tonal and strongly characterized by qualities of unity and coherence. There is a stylistic eclecticism in both works, with allusions ranging from Gregorian chant and Protestant hymns to jazz, but Honegger's frequent use of complex polyphony, and his consistent attention to architectural proportion and structure are constant reminders both of the unusually long time he spent on technical study and his aversion to compositional experimentation.

While one of Honegger's declared aspirations had been to write ‘nothing but operas’, he felt that the lyric theatre was in decline and even liable to disappear. As a child he composed Philippa (1903), Sigismond (around 1904) and La Esmeralda (1907); he did not complete La mort de Sainte Alméenne (1918), and the lack of psychological conflict, development and resolution in the characterization of the operatic reworking of Judith mitigated against its establishment in the repertory. His only other serious opera was Antigone (1924–7). His setting of Cocteau's highly condensed translation is innovative for its eschewal of recitative and its ‘incorrect’ accentuation of words (he consistently reversed the traditional convention of French prosody that treats the consonne d'attaque as an anacrusis). The musical language and form of the work are intensely severe and it was not well received. His collaboration with Paul Valéry on the melodrama Amphion (1929) was accorded only ephemeral acclaim. Though much more restricted harmonically than Antigone, it displays in its melodic writing the same qualities of distinction. More negative is the fact that influences are detectable to an extent that seems to negate much of his achievement since Le roi David: Stravinsky, in particular, often looms large. However, the operetta that followed, Les aventures du roi Pausole (1929–30), was phenomenally successful, with a first production at the Bouffes-Parisiens which ran to over 500 performances. The score is a delightful blend of all the best from the operetta styles of Chabrier, Gounod, Lecocq, Messager and Offenbach, and took both the public and critics by surprise with its absolute suitability. They could not initially appreciate that the usually earnest Honegger could exhibit such obviously genuine talent in the genre. The memorable quality of the melodic lines is particularly noteworthy, as is the work's real charm; so, too, is Honegger's abandonment of the declamatory innovations introduced in Antigone. His other work as an operetta composer included a collaboration with Ibert on L'aiglon (1936–7).

After the titles of the first two mouvements symphoniques (Pacific 231, 1923; Rugby, 1928) were misinterpreted by the public as specifying programmes, rather than sources of musical inspiration, Honegger eschewed titles for his First Symphony (1929–30) and the Mouvement symphonique no.3 (1932–3). He poured out his frustration in lectures and articles, and through his collaboration with René Bizet on the socially challenging oratorio Cris du monde (1930–31). The initial success of the dramatic oratorio Jeanne d'Arc au bûcher (1935) was consolidated during World War II when Claudel and Honegger added a prologue (1944) that subtly anticipated the Liberation. The work displays a remarkable coherence on all levels. Claudel's essentially poetic rather than dramatic conception resulted in a creation full of the sense and power of progressive evolution. Honegger's score contains a web of recurring motifs which reinforce the dramatic and organic nature of the music. The blend of spoken and sung roles with orchestral support is successfully handled, and the orchestration is masterly and individual. Saxophones replace french horns, and the appearance of the ondes martenot adds an extra dimension of sonority to the string section; the work is also unusual for Honegger in employing a large array of percussion. He collaborated with Claudel again on La danse des morts (1938) in which a combination of narrator, recitative-like writing for semi-chorus, traditional four-part choral music, rhythmically-notated choric speaking and a sharply defined orchestral fabric result in some of his most disciplined and uniformly finest music. Nicholas de Flue (1938–9), a more traditional Swiss jeu populaire, prompted the conception of a jeu de la Passion for the small village of Selzach on which Honegger worked intensively until the end of 1944. When the librettist Cäsar von Arx committed suicide, however, Honegger shelved the nearly completed sketches, only returning to them in 1952 to fulfil a commission from Paul Sacher for the spiritually reflective Une cantate de Noël.

Honegger's output during the 1940s was dominated by four symphonies (nos.2–5). These are characterized by the same drama of humanistic conflict that is to be found in his earlier choral frescoes. The Second, ‘Symphonie pour cordes’ (1940–41), is a portrayal of the abject misery, hidden violence and all-pervading depression that characterized Paris and its citizens during the Occupation. The elation generated by the chorale melody which soars out over the tumult of the closing pages of the finale engenders the same quintessential spirit of hope and faith raised so often by Bach through the use of the same device.

The symphonies which followed constitute a continuing quest to reinterpret traditional forms in a truly individual way. The Symphonie liturgique (1946) has an explicit programme:

In this work I wanted to symbolize the reaction of modern man against the tide of barbarity, stupidity, suffering, mechanization and bureaucracy which have been with us for several years. I have musically represented the inner conflict between a surrender to blind forces and the instinct of happiness, the love of peace and feelings of a divine refuge … a drama which takes place … between three characters who are real or symbolic: misfortune, happiness and man. These are eternal themes which I have tried to renew (see Maillard and Nahoum, 75).

The first movement, ‘Dies irae’, expresses ‘the day of wrath, the explosion of strength and of hate which destroys everything and leaves nothing but debris and ruin’. The particularly taut and thrusting qualities of its thematic and rhythmic material, representing ‘the indescribable turmoil of humanity’, are multiplied by the inexorable rigour of its development. In the second movement, ‘De profundis clamavi’, Honegger set himself the challenge of ‘develop[ing] a melodic line by rejecting methods and formulas’ and abandoning ‘all guidelines and harmonic progressions which are useful to those who have nothing to say’. He later wrote: ‘I took up the question where the Classicists have left off …. And how hard it is too, to put a prayer without hope into human mouths’. The theme which constitutes the entire substance of the movement and which plays such a vital role in the recapitulation – Honegger identified it with the opening verse of Psalm cxxx, ‘De profundis clamavi ad te Domine’ – in fact exists in embryonic form in the introduction. The finale, ‘Dona nobis pacem’, represents a grim descent into slavery and abasement, but the work ends with a radiant – albeit utopian – vision of human existence lived in a spirit of brotherhood and love.

The Symphony no.4 ‘Deliciae basiliensis’ (1946) stands out in the context of Honegger's mature output for its unclouded optimism. A beautifully crafted work, it expresses the joy of emerging from the horrors of war, and reflects Honegger's pleasure in visiting friends in Switzerland for whom music still had importance. The relaxed lyricism of the first movement is well balanced by the joyful extroversion of the finale, and these frame a slow movement which is refined and serious. The Fifth and final Symphony, ‘Di tre re’ (1950), is inevitably coloured by Honegger's illness and depression during the last eight years of his life. The intensity and profundity of the dark emotions expressed in the Symphonie liturgique are here renewed, but with a still grimmer conclusion; whereas the Symphonie liturgique ended with an idealized utopian vision, the Fifth Symphony closes, as Antigone had done some 20 years earlier, with a gesture of emptiness after so much tragedy. In the finale, a chorale-inspired melody no longer engenders a spirit of divine faith, as in the Second Symphony, and fails to triumph at the end: the battle is lost and the work ends in a wilderness expressing hopelessness and confusion.

Among Honegger's other concert works, the Concerto da camera (1948), composed for the unusual combination of flute, english horn and string orchestra, is a more profound sequel to the predominantly optimistic and lyrical Cello Concerto (1929) and the light-hearted and jazz-inspired Concertino for piano and orchestra (1924). Despite the incapacity he suffered as a result of illness in 1947, he still managed to compose, and the abundance of contrapuntal devices in the Concerto da camera provides perhaps the strongest testament to Bach's influence on his output. The profusion of thematic material in the work has parallels with the Fourth Symphony, but the controlled jauntiness of the concerto's finale looks forward to the tightly-reined second movement of the Fifth Symphony. The slow movement is a prayer, but unlike the comparable movement in the Symphonie liturgique, it mood is not one of desperation but one of thanksgiving tinged with the restrained gratitude of one who has not long since survived a possibly fatal illness.

His last major work was Une cantate de Noël (1953), based on sketches from the unfinished Passion. The piece lacks, especially in the large-scale choruses such as the concluding ‘Laudate Dominum’, the technical challenges found in earlier works. But as a direct result of this apparent simplicity, the amount of orchestral doubling of the vocal lines is almost negligible, and the degree of translucency achieved through the chamber-like scoring is unusual for Honegger.

Apart from his ballet and incidental scores (from which a number of individual movements and suites were extracted), Honegger's mélodies are the most unaccountably neglected genre of his output. Some of his songs from the 1940s recapture the carefree spirit of the period when he was associated with ‘Les Six’. They are marked by the same sophisticated poise and unpretentious expressivity which had coloured his Apollinaire and Cocteau settings from more than 20 years earlier. Other late songs reflect Honegger's darker side. Among these Le delphinium from the Trois poèmes de Claudel (1939–40) is perhaps his finest mélodie, each of its aspects seemingly perfect in conception and balance. The Trois psaumes (1940–41) conclude with a jubilant hymn of praise strongly reminiscent of Le roi David, but at the heart of the set is the second of the songs, setting Théodore de Bèze's French translation of Psalm cxl, ‘Deliver me, O Lord, from the evil man, preserve me from the violent man’. Through its noble melodic line and strong harmonic support, it parallels the emotional and expressive world of the Second and Third Symphonies, producing an effect of tremendous dignity. The chamber music is also notable, particularly the two string quartets. At Honegger's cremation, his achievement was summarized by Jean Cocteau: ‘Arthur, you managed to obtain the respect of a disrespectful era. You linked to the skill of an architect of the Middle Ages the simplicity of a humble craftsman of cathedrals.’

Honegger, Arthur


published unless otherwise stated

works listed according to the chronology established in Spratt (1986)

MSS in CH-Bps

Principal publisher: Salabert

operas and operettas

Philippa (op, Honegger), 1903, not orchd, unpubd

Sigismond (op), c1904, lost

La Esmeralda (op, after V. Hugo: Notre-Dame de Paris), 1907; unfinished, unpubd

La mort de sainte Alméenne (op, M. Jacob), 1918, unpubd; only Interlude orchd, 1920

Judith (op, R. Morax), 1925, Monte Carlo, Opéra, 13 Feb 1926 [rev. of incid music]

Antigone (op, J. Cocteau, after Sophocles), 1924–7, Brussels, Monnaie, 28 Dec 1927

Les aventures du roi Pausole (operetta, A. Willemetz, after P. Louÿs), 1929–30, Paris, Bouffes-Parisiens, 12 Dec 1930

La belle de Moudon (operetta, Morax), 1931, Mézières, Jorat, 30 May 1931; unpubd

L'aiglon (acts 2–4 for op, H. Cain, after E. Rostand), 1936–7 [acts 1 and 5 by Ibert], Monte Carlo, Opéra, 10 March 1937

Les petites cardinal (operetta, Willemetz and P. Brach, after L. Halévy), 1937, Paris, Bouffes-Parisiens, 13 Feb 1938, collab. Ibert


Le dit des jeux du monde (P. Méral), 1918, Paris, Vieux-Colombier, 2 Dec 1918

Vérité? Mensonge? (A. Hellé), 1920, Paris, Salon d'Automne, 25 Nov 1920; unpubd; movt arr. as Prélude et blues, 4 hp, 1925; further movt reworked in film score Napoléon, 1926–7

La noce massacrée (Marche funèbre) for Les mariés de la tour Eiffel (J. Cocteau), collab. Les Six, Paris, Champs-Elysées, 18 June 1921

Horace victorieux (G.-P. Fauconnet, after T. Livius), 1920–21, concert perf., Lausanne, 31 Oct 1921, stage perf., Essen, Stadttheater, 11 Jan 1928

Danse de la chèvre for La mauvaise pensée (S. Derek), 1921, Paris, Nouveau, 2 Dec 1921

Skating Rink (R. Canudo), 1921–2, Paris, Champs-Elysées, 20 Jan 1922

Fantasio (G. Wague), 1922; unperf., unpubd

Sous-marine (C. Ari), 1924–5, Paris, OC, 27 June 1925; unpubd

Roses de (en) métal (E. de Gramont), 1928, Paris, Salle Oedenkoven, 3 June 1928; lost apart from one movt, Blues, transcr. chbr orch

Les noces d'amour et de psyché (I. Rubinstein), 1928 [orch of J.S. Bach], Paris, Opéra, 22 Nov 1928; extracts: orch suite, orch of Prelude and Fugue in C, bwv545

Amphion (P. Valéry), 1929, Paris, Opéra, 23 June 1931; extracts: Prelude, fugue, postlude, orch, 1948

Sémiramis (Valéry), 1933–4, Paris, Opéra, 11 May 1934; unpubd

Icare (S. Lifar), 1935, Paris, Opéra, 9 July 1935; unpubd

Un oiseau blanc s'est envolé (S. Guitry), 1937, Paris, Champs-Elysées, 24 May 1937; unpubd; score reworked for film Mermoz, 1943

Le cantique des cantiques (G. Boissy and Lifar), 1936–7, Paris, Opéra, 2 Feb 1938

La naissance des couleurs (E. Klausz and Morax), 1940, orchd 1948, Paris, Opéra, 22 June 1949; unpubd

Le mangeur de rêves (H.R. Lenormand), 1941, Paris, Salle Pleyel, 21 June 1941; lost

L'appel de la montagne (R.F. le Bret), 1943, orchd, 1945, Paris, Opéra, 9 July 1945; unpubd; orch suite Schwyzer Fäschttag (Jour de fête suisse), 1943, orchd 1945

Chota Roustaveli (N. Evreinoff and S. Lifar, after C. Roustaveli), 1945, collab. A. Tcherepnin, T. Harsányi, Paris, Opéra, 14 May 1946; unpubd

Sortilèges (L. Bederkhan), 1946, Paris, Comédie des Champs-Elysées, sum. 1946; lost

De la musique (R. Wild), 1950; unperf., lost

film scores

† – complete orch score extant

†La roue (A. Gance), 1922; †Napoléon (Gance), 1926–7, also orch suite; Rapt (D. Kirsanov, after C.F. Ramuz), 1934, collab. A. Hoérée, unpubd; †L'idée (B. Bartosch, after F. Masereel), 1934, unpubd; †Les misérables (R. Bernard, after V. Hugo), 1933–4, also orch suite; Cessez le feu (J. de Baroncelli, after J. Kessel), 1934; Le roi de la Camargue (Baroncelli, after J. Aicard), 1934, collab. Roland-Manuel, unpubd; Le démon de l'Himalaya (A. Marton and G.O. Dyhrenfurth), 1934–5, unpubd; †Crime et châtiment (P. Chenal, after F. Dostoyevsky), 1935, unpubd; †L'équipage (Celle que j'aime) (A. Litvak, after J. Kessel), 1935, collab. M. Thiriet

†Les mutinés de l'Elseneur (Chenal, after J. London), 1936; †Mayerling (Litvak, after C. Anet), 1936, collab. Jaubert; Nitchevo (L'agonie du sous-marin) (Baroncelli), 1936, collab. Oberfeld, R. Ventura; †Mlle docteur (Salonique nid d'espions) (G.W. Pabst, after G. Neveux), 1936–7, unpubd; Marthe Richard au service de la France (Bernard, after B. Zimmer), 1937; Liberté (J. Kemm), 1937, collab. Hoérée, unpubd; †La citadelle du silence (M. L'Herbier), 1937, collab. Milhaud, unpubd; Regain (M. Pagnol, after J. Giono), 1937, also orch suite

Visages de la France (A. Vigneau, P. Nizan and A. Wurmser), 1937, unpubd; Miarka (La fille à l'ourse) (J. Choux, after J. Richepin), 1937, collab. Harsányi; Passeurs d'hommes (R. Jayet, after M. Lekeux), 1937, collab. Hoérée, unpubd; Les bâtisseurs (J. Epstein), 1937, collab. Hoérée, unpubd; Pygmalion (A. Asquith and L. Howard, after G.B. Shaw), 1938, collab. Axt, unpubd; †L'or dans la montagne (Faux monnayeurs) (M. Haufler, after Ramuz), 1938, collab. Hoérée, unpubd; Le déserteur (Je t'attendrai) (L. Moguy), 1939, collab. H. Verdun and others

Cavalcade d'amour (Bernard), 1939, collab. Milhaud and Désormière; Le journal tombe à 5 heures (G. Lacombe, after O.P. Gilbert), 1942; Huit hommes dans un château (R. Pottier), 1942, collab. Hoérée; †Les antiquités de l'Asie occidentale (H. Membrin), 1942, unpubd; Musiques pour France-actualités, 1942; La boxe en France (L. Gasnier-Raymond), 1942, collab. Jolivet; †Secrets (P. Blanchart, after Turgenev), 1942, unpubd; Callisto (La petite nymphe de Diane) (A. Marty), 1943, collab. Roland-Manuel, P. Noël

Le capitaine fracasse (Gance, after T. Gautier), 1943; Mermoz (L. Cuny), 1943 [reworking of incid music for Un oiseau blanc s'est envolé, 1937], also 2 orch suites; La nativité (Marty), 1943, unfinished, unpubd; Un seul amour (Blanchart, after H. de Balzac), 1943; Un ami viendra ce soir (Bernard), 1945; Les démons de l'aube (Y. Allégret), 1945–6, collab. Hoérée; Un revenant (Christian-Jaque), 1946; †Bourdelle (R. Lucot), 1950, unpubd; †La tour de Babel (G. Rony), 1951, collab. Harsányi, Hoérée, unpubd; †Paul Claudel (A. Gillet), 1951, unpubd

other dramatic

Incid music: La danse macabre (C. Larronde), 1919, lost; Saül (A. Gide), 1922, unpubd; Antigone (Sophocles, trans. J. Cocteau), 1922; Le roi David (R. Morax), 1921, concert version, 1922; La tempête (W. Shakespeare, trans. G. de Pourtalès), 1923, 1929, some movts lost, unpubd apart from Prelude, orch, and 2 chants d'Ariel, 1v, pf; Liluli (R. Rolland), 1923, unpubd; Judith (Morax), 1924–5, rev. as orat, 1927; L'impératrice aux rochers (Un miracle de Nôtre-Dame) (S.-G. de Bouhélier), 1925, also orch auite; Phaedre (G. d'Annunzio), 1926, orch suite pubd; Pour le cantique de Salomon (Bible), 1926; La petite sirène (Morax, after H.C. Andersen), 1926; 14 Juillet (Rolland), 1936; Liberté (various texts), 1937; La construction d'une cité (J.-R. Bloch), 1937, collab. Milhaud, J. Wiéner and Désormière [orch score lost; pf red. pubd]; La mandragore (Machiavelli), 1941, unpubd; L'ombre de la ravine (J.M. Synge), 1941, unpubd; Les suppliantes (Aeschylus, trans. A. Bonnard), 1941, unpubd; 800 mètres (A. Obey), 1941, lost; La ligne d'horizon (S. Roux), 1941, unpubd; Le soulier de satin (P. Claudel), 1943; Sodome et Gomorrhe (J. Giraudoux), 1943, unpubd; Charles le Téméraire (Morax), 1944; Prométhée (Aeschylus, trans. Bonnard), 1946, unpubd; Hamlet (Shakespeare, trans. A. Gide), 1946; Oedipe (Sophocles, trans. Obey), 1947, unpubd; L'état de siège (A. Camus), 1948, lost; On ne badine pas avec l'amour (A. de Musset), 1951, lost; Oedipe roi (Sophocles, trans. T. Maulnier), 1952, unpubd

Radio scores: Les douze coups de minuit (C. Larronde), 1933, unpubd; Christophe Columb (W. Aguet), 1940; Pasiphaé (H. de Montherlant), 1943, unperf.; Battements du monde (Aguet), 1944; St François d'Assise (Aguet), 1948–9; Marche contre la mort (A. de Saint-Exupéry), 1949, unperf., lost; Tête d'or (Claudel), 1949–50; La rédemption de François Villon (J. Bruyr), 1951, unpubd


Prélude pour Aglavaine et Sélysette, 1916–17 [after Maeterlinck]; Le chant de Nigamon, 1917 [after G. Aymard]; Vivace (Danse), before 1918, unpubd; Orchestration d'une mélodie de Musorgsky, 1920, lost; Pastorale d'été, 1920; Chant de joie, 1922–3; Pacific 231 (Mouvement symphonique no.1), 1923; Pf Concertino, 1924; Rugby (Mouvement symphonique no.2), 1928; Sym. no.1, 1929–30; Vc Conc., 1929; Mouvement symphonique no.3, 1932–3; Nocturne, 1936 [partly based on music from ballet Sémiramis]; Largo, str, 1936, unpubd; Allegretto, after 1937–8, unpubd

Grad us – en avant (Marche de défilé), 1940; Sym. no.2 ‘Symphonie pour cordes’, str, tpt ad lib, 1940–41; Le grand barrage, 1942; Sérénade à Angélique, 1945; Symphonie liturgique (Sym. no.3), 1945–6; Sym. no.4 ‘Deliciae basiliensis’, 1946; Concerto da camera, fl, eng hn, str, 1948; Sym. no.5 ‘Di tre re’, 1950; Suite archaïque, 1950–51; Monopartita, 1951; Toccata sur un thème de Campra, 1951; Chevauchée, unpubd; Pathétique, unpubd; suites and interludes from ballet, film and incid scores


Oratorio du Calvaire, 1907, lost; Cantique de Pâques (Honegger), solo vv, female chorus, 1918, orchd 1922; Le roi David (sym. psalm, Morax), solo vv, chorus, chbr orch, 1922 [concert version of incid music, 1921], rev. solo vv, chorus, orch, 1923; Chanson de Fagus, S, SATB, pf, 1923–4; Judith (orat, Morax), solo vv, chorus, orch, 1927 [from incid music 1924–5]; Cris du monde (orat, R. Bizet, after J. Keats: Hymn to Solitude), solo vv, children's chorus, mixed chorus, orch, 1930–31; Radio-panoramique, perf. 1935, unpubd; Jeanne d'Arc au bûcher (dramatic orat, P. Claudel), 1935, prol added 1944

Les milles et une nuits (cant., J.-C. Mardrus, after The Thousand and One Nights), S, T, 4 ondes martenot, orch, 1936–7, unpubd; La danse des morts (cant., Claudel), spkr, solo vv, chorus, orch, 1938; L'alarme, 1938, lost; Nicolas de Flue (dramatic legend, D. de Rougement), chorus, band/orch, 1938–9; Chant de libération (B. Zimmer), Bar, unison chorus, orch, 1942, lost; Passion de Selzach (C. von Arx), 1938–44, unfinished, unpubd; Une cantate de Noël (cant., popular and liturgical texts), Bar, children's chorus, mixed chorus, org, 1952–3 [after sketches for Passion de Selzach]


for solo voice and piano unless otherwise stated

3 mélodies (J. Moréas, Hérold, Guillard), 1906–?8, lost; 2 mélodies, before 1914, lost; 4 poèmes (A. Fontaines, J. Laforgue, F. Jammes, A. Tchobanian), 1914–16, no.4 orchd Hoérée, 1930; 6 poèmes (Apollinaire), 1915–17, nos.1, 3–6 orchd Hoérée; 3 poèmes (P. Fort), 1916, no.1 orchd; Nature morte (Vanderpyl), 1917; La nuit est si profonde, 1v, orch, ?before 1920, unpubd; Pâques à New York (B. Cendrars), Mez, str qt, 1920; 6 poésies (J. Cocteau), 1920–23, arr. Hoérée for 1v, str qt

Chanson de Ronsard, 1v, pf/(fl, str qt), 1924; 3 chansons de la petite Sirène (Morax), 1v, pf/(fl, str qt), 1926; Vocalise-Etude, 1929; Le grand étang (J. Tranchant), 1v, pf/orch, 1932, unpubd; 3 chansons (R. Kerdyk), 1935–7; Fièvre jaune (Nino), 1936; Tuet's weh?, cabaret song after W. Lesch, 1937, unpubd; Jeunesse (P. Vaillant-Couturier, 1v, pf/orch, 1937 [also used in film score Visages de France]; Armistice (Kerdyk), 1937, unpubd; Hommage au travail (M. Senart), 1938; O salutaris (liturgical), 1v, (pf/hp)/(org, pf/hp ad lib), 1939; Possèdes-tu, pauvre pécheur?, 1939, unpubd

3 poèmes (P. Claudel), 1939–40; 3 psaumes (Pss xxxiv, cxl, cxxxviii), 1940–41; 4 chansons pour voix grave (A. Tchobanian, W. Aguet, P. Verlaine, P. de Ronsard), 1940, 1944–45, no.3 orchd [no.2 based on movt from radio score Christoph Columb]; Petits cours de morale (J. Giraudoux), 1941; Saluste du Bartas (P. Bédat de Montlaur), 1941; Céline (G.J. Aubry), 1943, lost; Panis angelicus (liturgical), 1943; O temps suspends ton vol (H. Martin), 1945, unpubd; Mimaamaquim (Ps cxxx), 1946, orchd; additional songs from film scores and incid music

chamber and solo instrumental

6 Sonatas, vn, pf, 1908, unpubd; Adagio, vn, pf, c1910, lost; Sonata, d, vn, pf, 1912, unpubd; Sonata, vc, pf, c1912-13, lost; Pf Trio, 1914, unpubd; Rhapsodie, 2 fl/vn, cl/va, pf, 1917; Str Qt no.1, 1916–17, based on versions of 1913–15; Sonata no.1, vn, pf, 1916–18; Musiques (Pièces) d'ameublement, fl, cl, tpt, str qt, pf, 1919, unpubd; Sonata no.2, vn, pf, 1919; Sonata, va, pf, 1920; Sonatina, 2 vn, 1920; Sonata, vc, pf, 1920; Hymne, 10 str, 1920; Cadenza for Milhaud: Cinéma-Fantaisie [based on Le boeuf sur le toit], vn, 1920; Danse de la chèvre, fl, 1921 [from ballet La mauvaise pensée]; Sonatina, cl, pf, 1921–2; 3 contrepoints, fl + pic, ob + eng hn, vn, vc, 1922

Hommage du trombone exprimant la tristesse de l'auteur absent, trbn, pf, 1925, unpubd; Prélude et blues, 4 hp, 1925 [from ballet Vérité? Mensonge?]; Berceuses pour la Bobcisco, vn, fl/vn, tpt/va, vc, pf, 1929, unpubd; J'avais un fidèle amant, str qt/str, 1929, unpubd; Arioso, vn, pf, ? late 1920s, unpubd; Prélude, Léo Sir's ‘sous-basse’, pf, 1932, unpubd; Sonatina, vn, vc, 1932; Petite suite, 2 tr insts, pf, 1934; Str Qt no.2, 1934–6; Str Qt no.3, 1936–7; Sonata, vn, 1940; Andante, 4 ondes martenot, ?1943, unpubd; Morceau de concours, vn, pf, 1945; Paduana, vc, 1945, unpubd; Intrada, tpt, pf, 1947; Romance, fl, pf, 1952/3; Colloque, fl, cel, vn, va, unpubd; Introduction et danse, fl, hp/pf, vn, va, vc, unpubd


for solo piano unless otherwise stated

3 pièces, 1909–10; Orgue dans l'église, c1910–11 [used in film score Marthe Richard]; Toccata et variations, 1916; Fugue et choral, org, 1917; 3 pièces (1919): Prélude, 1919, Hommage à Ravel, 1915, Danse, 1919; 7 pièces brèves, 1919–20; Sarabande, 1920 [for L'album des Six]; Très modéré, ?early 1920s, unpubd; Le cahier romand, 1921–3; Suites, 2 pf, 1922 [after chbr work 3 contrepoints]; La neige sur Rome, 1925 [from incid music L'impératrice aux rochers]; Suite (Partita), 2 pf, 1925 [one movt reworked from L'impératrice aux rochers]; Hommage à Albert Roussel, 1928

Suite, 1930 [from operetta Les aventures du roi Pausole]; Prélude, arioso et fughette sur le nom de BACH, 1932, arr. str by Hoérée; Berceuse, 1935, unpubd; Scenic Railway, 1937; Partita, 2 pf, 1940 [based on music from ballet Sémiramis and incid music L'impératrice aux rochers]; Petits airs sur une basse célèbre, 1941; Esquisses nos.1–2, 1942–3; 3 pièces, 1943 [from film score Le capitaine fracasse]; 3 pièces [from film score Un ami viendra ce soir], 1945, no.1 pubd: Souvenir de Chopin, Jacques au piano, Prélude à la mort; transcrs. of orch works

Honegger, Arthur


Incantations aux fossiles (Lausanne, 1948)

Je suis compositeur (Paris, 1951; Eng. trans., 1966)

Honegger, Arthur


Grove6 (F. Muggler) [incl. further bibliography]

Roland-Manuel: Arthur Honegger (Paris, 1925)

A. George: Arthur Honegger (Paris, 1926)

W. Tappolet: Arthur Honegger (Zürich, 1933, rev. 2/1954)

P. Claudel and others: Arthur Honegger (Paris, 1942)

C. Gérard: Arthur Honegger: catalogue succinct des oeuvres (Brussels, 1945)

J. Bruyr: Honegger et son oeuvre (Paris, 1947)

M. Delannoy: Arthur Honegger (Paris, 1953, rev. 1986)

J. Matter: Honegger, ou la quête de joie (London and Paris, 1956)

A. Gauthier: Arthur Honegger (London, 1957)

M. Landowski: Honegger (Paris, 1957)

W. Reich, ed.: Arthur Honegger: Nachklang: Schriften, Photos, Dokumente (Zürich, 1957)

Y. Guilbert: Arthur Honegger (Paris, 1959)

A. Szöllösy: Arthur Honegger (Budapest, 1961, 2/1980)

J. Feschotte: Arthur Honegger (Paris, 1966)

P. Meylan: René Morax et Arthur Honegger au Théâtre du Jorat (Lausanne and Paris, 1966)

L. Rappoport: Artur Onegger (Leningrad, 1967)

P. Meylan: Arthur Honegger: humanitäre Botschaft der Musik (Frauenfeld, Stuttgart, 1970)

S. Pavchinsky: Simfonischeskoye tvorchestvo A. Oneggera (Moscow, 1972)

J.H.O. Maillard and J. Nahoum: Les symphonies d’Arthur Honegger (Paris, 1974)

Ye. Sïssoyeva: Simfoniy A. Honeggera (Moscow, 1975)

K. von Fischer: Arthur Honegger (Zürich, 1978)

H.D. Voss: Arthur Honegger: ‘Le roi David’' (Munich and Salzburg, 1983)

G.K. Spratt: Catalogue des oeuvres d'Arthur Honegger (Geneva and Paris, 1986)

G.K. Spratt: The Music of Arthur Honegger (Cork, 1987) [incl. further writings and bibliography]

H. Calmel: Ecrits (Geneva and Paris, 1992)

H. Halbreich: Arthur Honegger (Paris, 1992)

J. Roy: Le roi David d'Arthur Honegger (Lyons, 1992)
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