As a composer whose life bridged the end of romanticism and the beginning of modernism, Gabriel Fauré is often heralded as the foremost French musician of his generation. A talented organist and pianist, he was later to become director of the Paris Conservatoire. His output includes a diverse selection of chamber music, as well as the famous Pavane and Requiem.
One of Fauré’s most beloved songs, Après un rêve was published in 1878, later becoming the first in a set of Trois mélodies Op. 7. Composed to the text of an anonymous Tuscan poem (freely translated into French by the eminent writer and baritone Romain Bussine), it is dedicated to Madame Marguerite Baugnies – a married woman – but an influential friend of Fauré and a notorious Parisian matchmaker. In a sensitive and emotionally revealing narration, it tells the story of a romantic encounter to which the raconteur longs to return, only to abruptly awaken and discover the ecstatic falsehood of his fantasy.
As perhaps the most famous art song of the French repertoire, Après un rêve has been arranged for numerous solo instruments, most notably by the virtuoso cellist Pablo Casals.