Published: Feb. 13, 2024 By ,

Fauré Centennial Festival cover photoProfessor of Musicology Carlo Caballero remembers when he fell in love with the music of Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924): “It was when I heard his ‘Requiem’ as an undergrad at Pomona College [in southern California]. 

“I was so taken by the harmonies and I started looking at scores. I didn’t realize then that my career would become centered on Fauré.”

Pursuing a PhD at the University of Pennsylvania, Caballero’s graduate dissertation was on Fauré. From there, his love and admiration for the Frenchman’s music continued to grow. He’s since written books about Fauré and edited critical editions of the composer’s two piano quintets for “The Complete Works of Gabriel Fauré.” Yes, he’s also published studies on ballet music of the 19th and 20th centuries, and social continuities in French music from the 18th to the 20th centuries. But one composer remains close to his heart and his academic pursuits. Particularly these days. ​

This year marks a milestone for Caballero who—along with his academic partner Stephen Rumph, professor of music history at the University of Washington—will co-host the Fauré Centennial Festival in Boulder, Feb. 27-March 3. All festival events comprising this major, global gathering of CU Boulder faculty and student musicians alongside panelists from France, Canada, Israel, Brazil, the United Kingdom and the United States are free and open to the public although registration is appreciated from those who plan to attend the conference. 

Self-caricature by Gabriel FauréSelf-caricature by Gabriel Fauré—under his signature at the end of a letter to Elizabeth Swinton—circa 1898. Private archive, with permission.

Before enumerating the impressive number of papers to be presented, concerts to be held and new works to be premiered, Caballero shares how the whole project began. “I visited Stephen in Seattle in the summer of 2021,” he recalls. The two men had worked together previously, co-editing “Fauré Studies” for Cambridge University Press. “We were strolling on the beach—talking about how 2024 was the 100th anniversary of Fauré’s death—and Stephen said, ‘Why don’t we do a festival?’ That’s how it all started.” 

In retrospect, Caballero points out, Rumph’s casual suggestion proved advantageous. Getting the ball rolling, and planning and sending out all the invitations and calls for papers so early, resulted in strong interest and a healthy number of acceptances.

There was much to do in the months that followed: Grants to write and submit, campus facilities to secure and—here’s a surprise—composers to commission. “The four festival recitals [including a Faculty Tuesdays recital on Feb. 27] will offer a kaleidoscopic experience, not just a look back,” Caballero explains. In addition to chamber music by Fauré in diverse instrumentations, the festival will feature works by his contemporaries—like Maurice Ravel, Mel Bonis and Cécile Chaminade—as well as nine new commissions by both professional composers and students.

“It was Stephen’s idea to connect these new works to the legacy of Fauré, but in the composers’ own style,” says Caballero, who further notes that 16 academic papers will be presented as part of the festival, including one of his own—“The Smith’s Harmonic Forge: Voice-Leading in the First Movement of Fauré’s Second Piano Quartet.” 

Caballero is optimistic that the Fauré Centennial ​Festival will continue to raise appreciation of Fauré’s music. For him, the attraction is singular: “My academic career is fueled by the beauty of his music.” 

The Fauré Centennial ​Festival—held on campus at the Imig Music Building and Macky Auditorium, and at Boulder’s First Congregational Church—is supported by the Dr. C. W. Bixler Family Foundation, the CU Boulder College of Music, the Center for Humanities & the Arts and the Research & Innovation Office.