Fauré, Gabriel. (1845–1924)
Autograph Letter about Paul Dukas and Taking the Waters
Autograph letter from the important French composer. [Bad-Ems, Germany], August 19, . 3 pp. Writing from the spa town of Bad Ems, which he visited twice in an effort to improve his approaching deafness, Fauré asks a colleague urgently to nominate Paul Dukas for the Conseil Supérieur of the Paris Conservatoire (to replace Charles Lenepveu, who had died on August 16, 1910.) He goes on to report that the news of his own health is not good, but that a Dr. Combe has prescribed a treatment. On letterhead of the Hotel 'Das Römerbad'. Very fine. 5.5 x 8.5 inches (14 x 21.8 cm).
Translated from the French: "Dear friend, a word in haste. I would be grateful if you would nominate Paul Dukas right away for the Conseil Superieur; but I would also like to ask you to look over the candidates to replace Lenepveu as Inspecteur de l'Enseignement Musicale. I have just written to Paul Dukas on this subject, and I think that if he applied, we couldn't have a better choice, don't you think? I will ask him to decide urgently. I have received a letter from Guy Ropartz. But he must admit that he would have to leave the management of Nancy. He can't claim to inspect the colleagues and also the inspector himself! Alas, I thought that Brussels would ruin your holidays. As to my father-in-law, you are right. It would be better to wait until you can talk about it. The news that I am receiving is still not very good. However, Combe (from Lausanne) was able to come and prescribe a treatment. This visit raised the spirits of our dear invalid [i.e., yours truly] somewhat. Perhaps he will be able to go to Lausanne at the end of September. [...] All the best, and see you soon, and thank you, Gabriel Fauré."
Fauré had served as director of the Paris Conservatoire since 1905, revolutionizing the institution with an influx of new professors and a changed curriculum. The death of conservative composer and teacher Charles Lenepveu (1840–1910), a member of the Conseil Supérieur was an opportunity for Fauré's campaign, although Paul Dukas did not join the faculty until years later. Meanwhile, Fauré's health was failing, and he retreated to the spa town of Ems to seek treatment for his hearing problems. Fauré's father-in-law, sculptor Emmanuel Fremiet, died on September 11, 1910.
"Fauré took the waters at Bad Ems during the summer of 1910 to try and cure his hearing difficulties—and not for throat problems, as the official news had it so as not to cause alarm at the Conservatoire. But the treatment was unsuccessful. The followin summer he had to admit 'my hearing goes from bad to worse. I can't tell you the torment it's causing me. I don't see that I could have been looked after with greater sympathy and attention and, far from getting better, this year the disease has got noticeably worse!' His son recalled that 'he heard bass notes a third hinger and treble notes a third lower... All through the last years of his life Fauré was determined to hide his infirmity, partly out of delicacy (he hated complaining) and partly to keep a hold on his livelihood [...] It needs to be realised that he too knew Schumann's torture and Beethoven's drawn out despair.' " (Jean-Michel Nectoux, Gabriel Fauré: A Musical Life, p. 293.)