Francis Bousquet

Francis Bousquet (9 September 1890 – 21 December 1942) was a French composer and music pedagogue. Educated at the Conservatoire de Paris, he won the Prix de Rome in 1923. His compositions included three operas, a ballet, and several symphonic and chamber music works. From 1926 until his death he was also the director of Conservatoire de Roubaix. Bousquet was born in Marseille and died in Roubaix at the age of 52. He had been awarded the Légion d'honneur in 1934.

Francis Bousquet
Francis Bousquet in 1923.jpg
Bousquet in 1923
Charles-Francis Bousquet

(1890-09-09)9 September 1890
Marseille, France
Died21 December 1942(1942-12-21) (aged 52)
Roubaix, France
  • composer
  • music pedagogue

Life and careerEdit

Bousquet was born in Marseille and began his musical studies there before enrolling in the Conservatoire de Paris in 1907 where he studied under Xavier Leroux, André Gedalge and Charles-Marie Widor. He won the conservatory's First Prize in harmony in 1909 and First Prize in counterpoint in 1910. His studies were interrupted for four years by World War I when he served in an engineering regiment of the French Army.[1][2] From 1915 to 1918, Nadia and Lili Boulanger, both graduates of the conservatory, published Gazette des Classes du Conservatoire with news of French musical life and letters from the conservatory's students who had been dispersed by the war. In a letter published in the 27 November 1916 issue Bousquet wrote from the front:

[The gazette] has brought us back together. Music, dormant for an instant in the depths of memory, begins to sing again, and the musical life evoked in a few pages, with the exquisite recollections that it brings, achieves the miracle of awakening, amid so much desolation, an ardent longing for the future.[3]

A recipient of the Croix de Guerre, Bousquet returned to the conservatoire after the war and continued his studies in composition. He entered the competition for the Prix de Rome three times, gaining the Second Prize in 1921 and 1922 and the First Prize in 1923 for his cantata Béatrix.[a] The First Prize came with a bursary that allowed the recipient to stay at the Villa Medici in Rome for two years and to travel for up to three more years.[1][2][5]

On his return from Rome in 1926, Bousquet took up an appointment as the director of the Conservatoire de Roubaix, a position he held until his death. In the 1930s he was a founder of the Association des Directeurs d'Écoles et Conservatoires de Musique Nationaux and later became its honorary president. In 1934 he was awarded the Légion d'honneur for his artistic career and military service. He also worked as journalist for the Parisian arts journal Comœdia during the occupation of France in World War II.[6][7][8]

Bousquet continued to compose throughout his career. His first opera, Zorriga, was written for and performed at the Théâtre des Arènes in Béziers in 1925. His second, Sarati le Terrible, premiered at the Théâtre de l'Opéra-Comique in 1928. Both were set in North Africa and contained elements of Arabic music. His last works were the three-act comic opera Mon oncle Benjamin[b] and the symphony Hannibal. Mon oncle Benjamin premiered at the Théâtre de l'Opéra-Comique on 10 March 1942 with Roger Bourdin in the title role. Hannibal premiered on 30 November 1942 in Paris. Bousquet died in Roubaix at the age of 52, three weeks after the Hannibal premiere.[2]

In his obituary in Comœdia, Tony Aubin wrote that Bousquet's works reflected "one of the most authentic natures of our time" and displayed an "enlightened art, sober but expressive, traversed by bright lightning or bathed in noble melancholy."[10]


Bousquet's compositions included:

Stage works

  • Zorriga, opera in four acts, libretto by Paul Verdert and Jean Camp; premiered at the Théâtre des Arènes, Béziers, 21 June 1925[11]
  • L'Esclave, ballet in one act on a subject by Belloni;[c] published by Éditions Max Eschig, 1927[13]
  • Sarati le Terrible, opera in four acts, libretto by Jean Vignaud; premiered at the Théâtre de l'Opéra-Comique, Paris, 9 May 1928[14]
  • Mon oncle Benjamin, comic opera in three acts, libretto by Georges Ricou; premiered at the Théâtre de l'Opéra-Comique, Paris, 10 March 1942[14]

Instrumental works

  • Poeme, chamber music for string quartet and piano, dedicated to the violinist Roger Debonnet; published by Éditions Maurice Senart, 1921[15]
  • Soirs d'Afrique, orchestral suite; premiered by the Orchestre Lamoureux, Paris, 3 March 1932. The work is based on Arabic and Spanish folk music collected by Bousquet during a long voyage to North Africa.[16][17]
  • Concerto ibérique, concerto in D minor for solo cello and orchestra; premiered by the cellist Maurice Maréchal and the Concerts Colonne orchestra, Paris, December 1937[18]
  • Argotera, concerto for solo horn and orchestra; published by Éditions Charles Gras, 1939. The piece was written for the French hornist Jean Devémy (1898-1969) who recorded it on the Action Artistique label[d] in 1943.[20][21]
  • Hannibal, symphony; premiered by the Orchestre de l'Association des Concerts Pierné, Paris, 30 November 1942[22]


  1. ^ In the final round of the Prix de Rome, the competitors were all required to set the same text as a cantata. Béatrix, the text for the 1923 final competition piece, was written by Jean Gandrey-Réty (1901–1962). That year, the Grand First Prize was awarded jointly to Bousquet and Jeanne Leleu.[4]
  2. ^ Mon oncle Benjamin was based on Claude Tillier's 1842 comic novel of the same name. The novel also served as the inspiration for the 1969 French film Mon oncle Benjamin starring Jacques Brel.[9]
  3. ^ "Belloni" may refer to Joseph Belloni, an Italian born dancer and choreographer who choreographed several ballets for the Théâtre des Arènes in Béziers and was the maître de ballet at the Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux during that period.[12]
  4. ^ The Action Artistique label was sponsored by the Vichy Government and from 1942 produced 40 recordings of works by French composers.[19]


  1. ^ a b s.n. (1 July 1923). "Le Prix de Rome de Musique". Le Petit Parisien, p. 1. Retrieved 16 September 2019 (in French).
  2. ^ a b c Smith, Richard Langham (1992). "Bousquet, Francis ". Grove Music Online. Retrieved 16 September 2019 (subscription required for full access).
  3. ^ Royal Northern College of Music (2018). "Paris-Manchester 1918: Conservatoires in time of war". Retrieved 16 September 2019.
  4. ^ Hamer, Laura (2018). Female Composers, Conductors, Performers: Musiciennes of Interwar France, 1919-1939, p. 143. Routledge. ISBN 1315451476
  5. ^ s.n. (7 January 1943). "Le compositeur marseillais Francis Bousquet". Le Petit Provençal, p. 2. Retrieved 16 September 2019 (in French).
  6. ^ OFI (24 December 1942). "Mort du compositeur Francis Bousquet". Journal des débats, p. 1. Retrieved 16 September 2019 (in French).
  7. ^ Journal Officiel de la République Française (5 August 1934). "Légion d'honneur", p. 8137. Retrieved 16 September 2019 (in French).
  8. ^ Potter, Caroline (2017). French Music Since Berlioz, pp. 283–284. Routledge. ISBN 1351566474
  9. ^ Yoken, Melvin B. (1978). "Claude Tillier". The Old Century and the New: Essays in Honor of Charles Angoff, pp. 228–229. Fairleigh Dickinson University Press. ISBN 0838619541
  10. ^ Aubin, Tony (24 December 1942). "Le compositeur Francis Bousquet vient de mourir". Comœdia, p. 1. Retrieved 16 September 2019 (in French).
  11. ^ OCLC 61892934
  12. ^ s.n. (1910). "Le Théâtre des Arènes". Le Théatre, Vol. 13, Part 2, p. 110 (in French)
  13. ^ OCLC 725117621
  14. ^ a b Casaglia, Gherardo (2005). "9 maggio 1928" and "10 marzo 1942". Almanacco Amadeus. Retrieved 16 September 2019 (in Italian).
  15. ^ OCLC 18594687
  16. ^ Mousnier, Jean-Philippe (2001). Albert Wolff–Eugène Bigot, p. 169. Harmattan. ISBN 274751367X
  17. ^ s.n.. Le Guide du Concert 1930–1938, p. 129. Médiathèque Musicale Mahler. Retrieved 16 September 2019 (in French).
  18. ^ Brussel, Robert (7 December 1937). "Chronique des Concerts". Le Figaro, p. 6. Retrieved 16 September 2019 (in French).
  19. ^ Fulcher, Jane F. (2018). Renegotiating French Identity: Musical Culture and Creativity in France During Vichy and the German Occupation, p. 60. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0190681500
  20. ^ Seraphinoff, Richard and Dempf, Linda (2016). Guide to the Solo Horn Repertoire, p. 135. Indiana University Press. ISBN 0253019354
  21. ^ Centre for the History and Analysis of Recorded Music (2016). Gray Catalogue number AA29. Retrieved 16 September 2019.
  22. ^ s.n. (5 December 1942). "Symphonie, de Francis Bousquet". Comœdia, p. 5. Retrieved 16 September 2019 (in French).

External linksEdit