Compact Discoveries®
a series of one-hour radio programs produced, written, hosted, and edited
by Fred Flaxman

©2013 by Fred Flaxman

Program 208
"Déodat de Séverac"

MUSIC: Séverac: opening of Valse romantique performed by pianist Jordi Masó [Naxos 8.572428, Track 11] [under the following]

Hello and welcome to another hour of Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman, and I’m going to devote this entire hour to the piano music of a French composer who I think has been unjustly forgotten: Déodat de Séverac. He lived from 1872 until 1921. Instead of writing sonatas and other formal forms of piano music, Séverac’s music was inspired by the life around him where he grew up and lived most
of his 38-year life: the Languedoc region of southwestern France. His pieces have titles like To the Farmhouse at Festival Time and Sun Bathers.

MUSIC: fades out

I’ll tell you more about Séverac a bit later, but let’s first hear Sun Bathers / Baigneuses au Soleil as performed by Billy Eidi on a Timpani compact disc release from 2004.

MUSIC: Séverac: Baigneuses au Soleil performed by pianist Billy Eidi [Timpani 1C1080, Track 1] [7:56]

Sun Bathers / Baigneuses au Soleil by Déodat de Séverac performed by pianist Billy Eidi.

As Guy Sacre writes in his program notes for this compact disc, Séverac “was not made for music with expositions, developments, recapitulations and all the ingenious
hotchpotch to be found in the manuals.” He was rather a storyteller and poet. In a 1920 letter he made fun of “so many quartets, sonatas, and symphonies.” Enough already, he
seemed to say. He was not going to add to that collection. Instead he confined himself to relating his strolls and the “charming encounters” they brought about.

One example among many of this point is the suite of five piano pieces called Cerdaña. The entire suite, composed between 1908 and 1911, is a sort of musical transcription of
impressions and memories of walks in that region, which is divided almost equally between France and Spain. The suite starts with arrival in the region, and includes festivals, fiddlers and gleaners, and ends with the return of the mule-drivers. We’ll listen to four of its five movements now as performed, once again, by Billy Eidi from the same Timpani CD recording.

MUSIC: Séverac: Cerdaña, performed by pianist Billy Eidi [Timpani 1C1080, Tracks 2, 3, 4, and 6]

Four of the five movements of Cerdaña by Déodat de Séverac. The pianist was Billy Eidi. Eidi is a multi-award-winning French pianist and recording star who was born in Lebanon in 1955.

You are listening to an hour of piano music by the French composer, Déodat de Séverac, on Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman.

[optional one-minute break not included in the total timing]

Séverac was, as you might guess from listening to these pieces, a superb pianist. He had a particular gift for improvisation. All those who were in contact with Séverac, to
quote program note writer Guy Sacre, “have described this gift of making ivory speak, of bringing out not only themes and rhythms, but also new chords, in the intensity of the instant. All that remained to do was to write down, elaborate, polish a bit.”

But, unfortunately for posterity, Séverac was -- how should I put it? -- lazy. Nine times out of ten he did not transcribe his ideas, which would have ensured them survival. Those close to him remembered their titles, and that they were very beautiful. But the music itself was lost forever. Here are a couple of waltzes that Séverac did manage to write down.

MUSIC: Séverac: Valse Romantique from En Vacances, performed by pianist Jordi Masó. [Naxos 8.572428, Track 11] [2:57]

MUSIC: Séverac: Pippermint-Get: Valse brillante de concert, performed by pianist Jordi Masó. [Naxos 8.572429, Track 9] [4:18]

Two waltzes by Déodat de Séverac, both performed by pianist Jordi Masó. First he played Valse Romantique from Séverac’s suite, En Vacances -- the Romantic Waltz from On Vacation. Then he played Pippermint-Get: Valse brillante de concert. This concert waltz took its name from a mint liqueur created in 1796 by the Get brothers.

Next on this hour of Compact Discoveries devoted to the piano music of Déodat de Séverac, let’s listen to Jordi Masó playing Stances à Madame de Pompadour / Stanzas to Madame de Pompadour -- a nostalgic tribute to the past.

MUSIC: Séverac: Stances à Madame de Pompadour, performed by pianist Jordi Masó. [Naxos 8.572429, Track 8] [6:27]

Déodat de Séverac’s Stances à Madame de Pompadour / Stanzas to Madame de Pompadour performed by Jordi Masó on a Naxos compact disc. Madame de Pompadour, who lived from 1721 to 1764, was a member of the French court and the
official chief mistress of Louis the 15th from 1745 until her death.

We have time for one more piano piece by Déodat de Séverac. His A cheval dans la prairie / On horseback in the meadows from his suite En Languedoc / In Languedoc. It is a
very good example of Séverac’s unique, impressionistic style. I can just hear the giddyup, giddy-up in the beginning -- can’t you?

MUSIC: Séverac: A cheval dans la prairie, performed by pianist Jordi Masó. [Naxos 8.555855, Track 8] [3:48]

Déodat de Séverac’s A cheval dans la prairie / On horseback in the meadows from his suite En Languedoc / In Languedoc. The pianist was Jordri Masó on a Naxos compact disc.

You have been listening to the piano music of the French composer Déodat de Séverac on Compact Discoveries. If you missed any of this program or would like to hear it again, go to
compactdiscoveries.com on the internet, where you’ll find links to stream Compact Discoveries programs on demand without charge. You’ll also find information on every recording used in every program. This is program number 208. And I’m Fred Flaxman, thanking you for listening!

ANNOUNCER (Steve Jencks): Compact Discoveries is made possible in part by the financial support of Isabel and Marvin Leibowitz, and an anonymous donor from Palm Beach, Florida. And by financial contributions to local public radio stations by listeners like you. Thank you.

Total Program Timing: 58:00