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date: 22 September 2019

Desportes, Yvonne (Berthe Melitta)locked

  • James R. Briscoe

Extract

(Berthe Melitta)

(b Coburg, Germany, July 18, 1907; d Paris, Dec 29, 1993). French composer. The daughter of the composer Emile Desportes, she studied at the Paris Conservatoire with Dupré and Dukas (composition) and Lefébure and Cortot (piano). She received the Prix de Rome in 1932 with the cantata Le Pardon, which was praised for its unified cyclic structure. The author of a number of pedagogical works on harmony and solfège, she taught at the Paris Conservatoire for 35 years, first as professor of solfège (1943–59), then as professor of counterpoint and fugue (1959–78). She was made a Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite and also served on the faculty of the Centre La Fontaine.

Desportes composed over 500 works, including three symphonies, a requiem and eight operas. She eschewed the transparent style of French neo-classicism, favouring rather the intensity of The Five and early Stravinsky. Jacques Chailley commented on the alertness of her musical imagination, which encompassed a variety of sound combinations and resources, including electronic. Her works were broadcast over French Radio and performed widely, although she remains underrated as a composer of opera, her medium of greatest concentration. After Lili Boulanger she may be considered the foremost French woman composer of her generation....

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