Produced by the Saline royale Academy in April, 2021 at Arc-et-Senans.
Aim for excellence! You can improve your skills with expert advice. Download the annotated sheet music of this voice masterclass. Please note that this piece has been annotated in accordance to François Le Roux’s feedback and comments.
He has been awarded the grade of "Chevalier" in the French National Order of Les Arts et Lettres in 1996.
François Le Roux began his vocal studies with François Loup (now a teacher at Peabody-Baltimore) at the age of 19, and later he studied under Vera Rosza and Elisabeth Grümmer at the Opéra Studio, Paris.
A member of the Lyon Opera Company from 1980 to 1985, he has since been a guest with all the major European opera houses and festivals, as well as renowned American Operatic venues: Santa Fé (NM), Los Angeles Opera, New Orleans Opera, Colon Buenos Aires (Argentina). His wide operatic repertoire uncovers a large scale, from Monteverdi to David Lang. Debussy’s only opera has been his “carte de visite”, first as Pelléas, then as Golaud; he has been acclaimed in both these roles. Named “Mr Mélodie” by American critics, François Le Roux gives numerous recitals accompanied by such renowned names as Graham Johnson, Roger Vignoles, Christian Ivaldi, Olivier Godin and Jeff Cohen, and conducts master courses dedicated to the interpretation of French songs and recital repertoire around the world: Orford and Lachine Academy (Québec, Canada), Vancouver (BC, Canada), Minneapolis Song Source Festival (USA), Sibelius Academy Helsinki (Finland), Kyoto Société Mélodie Française (Japan), Central Conservatory of Music Beijing (China), Association Mélodie Française (Seoul, South Korea), Académie Ravel de Saint-Jean-de-Luz (France).
He is artistic Director and founder in 1997 of the « Académie Francis Poulenc in Tours », where students are taught every year (in August) the interpretation of French Song, and has been organizing the « French Song Concert Seasons » of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (French National Library) in Paris between 1997 and 2002. He has recorded for many famous labels the songs of Fauré, Debussy, Ravel, Poulenc, Saint-Saëns, Gounod, Reynaldo Hahn, etc. His CD of Henri Dutilleux’ Complete Songs (for the label Passavant Music), has won in June 2016 the “Orphée d’or Michel Garcin” of the Académie du disque lyrique. Since this, a Jolivet melodies CD, and a CD of melodramas and melodies have been released under the same label. His first book Le Chant intime, on the interpretation of French Art Song, published by Fayard in August 2004, with co-author Romain Raynaldy, has received the « René Dumesnil Price 2004 » of the French Académie des Beaux-Arts. It has been translated in Japanese and published by Shunjusha (Tokyo). His second book L’opéra français-une question de style-De l’interprétation lyrique published by Hermann has been issued in 2019.
He has been awarded the grade of “Chevalier” in the French National Order of “Les Arts et Lettres” in 1996, and chosen as « Musical Personality of the year 1997 » by the French Critics Union. He has been a vocal teacher at the National Music Conservatoire in Paris (CNSMDP), and is now teaching at the “Ecole normale de Musique de Paris Alfred Cortot”, where he is in charge of developing the exclusive “French Vocal Art Certificate”.
Claude Debussy was born in 1862, and is considered the originator and foremost representative of musical impressionism. He was admitted to the Paris Conservatoire at the age of 10 and never stopped pursuing music, first as a pianist and then as a composer. The parallel fifths, the cancellation of sensitive notes, tonal ambiguity, modal scales, and extended chords, among other things, are elements masterfully used by Debussy and serve to make his music true masterpieces recognized throughout the world. Debussy is one of the most important composers in history, and his influence exceeds even the limits of "classical music.”
In 1880, he began to compose music for the piano and give piano lessons. Later, he enrolled in Ernest Guiraud’s composition class, where he also began working as an accompanist in Victorine Moreau-Sainti’s singing classes. During this period in his life, Debussy struggled financially, but he began to cultivate his life. He explored other types of music and art forms, such as attending a Javanese gamelan performance at the Universal Exposition of 1889, discovering Mussorgsky, and befriending fellow musician and composer Ernest Chausson. Debussy’s career as a composer is closely linked to his relationship with Symbolist and Parnassian poets: Stéphane Mallarmé being an essential figure. These influences, together with the renewal of Impressionist painting, were aspects that pushed him towards the search for an original and personal artistic path. “I've had enough of music, of the same everlasting landscape; I want to see a Manet and hear some Offenbach,” he wrote while in Rome.
In a sad turn of events, Debussy was diagnosed with intestinal cancer and was operated on in 1915. He was never able to recover the fullness of his strength. He finished his Violin Sonata in March 1917, and three other sonatas remained unrealized. His last concert appearance was at Saint-Jean-de-Luz in September 1917, where he played the Violin Sonata with Gaston Poulet. He died in Paris six months later.
At the Conservatoire, he acquired classical knowledge: the likes of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schuman, Handel, and Liszt. Later on, he would recognize the artistic mastery of the Group of Five, which was made up of contemporary Russian composers (he acquired his taste for ancient and oriental modes from the Russians); the Japanese gamelan, and Chopin's music. Inspired by international art and culture, Claude Debussy’s music are masterpieces celebrated all around the world.
Photo credit: BNF Gallica