Jean Cras, Polymath of Music and Letters

Second Edition

by Paul-André Bempéchat (Author)
©2022 Others XXII, 604 Pages


This revised, enhanced edition of the life and works of composer and Admiral Jean Cras traces, through new research, the remarkable career of this celebrated composer, decorated war hero, scientist and inventor. As Henri Duparc’s only protégé, his “spiritual son” enjoyed the same level of esteem during the 1920s as his friends Ravel and Roussel. This edition sustains the renaissance of Jean Cras and includes a new chapter devoted to the composer’s early songs, to be released concurrently.
« Le Canadien Paul-André Bempéchat, est parfaitement francophone mais c’est en anglais qu’il rédige cette somme dédiée à Jean Cras … Tout y est, … sa carrière marine, … l’inventeur brilliant, l’esthète pétri d’humanisme, le musicien dans son oeuvre. … Le portrait est vivant, Jean Cras se tient devant vous et tous les secrets de son art subtil sont démontrés. »
– Diapason
“There is no doubt that, in subsequent studies of Jean Cras’s life and works, this book will be the first source to which the researcher turns. Bempéchat’s deft and skilful blending of a beautifully written and engaging biography with lucid and erudite musical analysis, interspersed with tales of military history and scientific discovery, has resulted in a book that is absolutely engaging on its own, as it tells the life story of a most extraordinary man.”
– Nineteenth-Century Music Review

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title Page
  • Copyright Page
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Cum gratiarum actionebus
  • Contents
  • List of Figures
  • Maps and Plates
  • List of Music Examples
  • Introduction to an Introduction
  • Acknowledgements
  • Part I The Life of Jean Cras
  • Chapter One: Background
  • Chapter Two: Foreground
  • Chapter three Dualities, Pluralities, Synthesis
  • Chapter four: Surviving Adoré Floupette: Faith, Art, Character
  • Chapter Five: Currents – Countercurrents
  • Chapter Six: Opus posthumous …
  • Part II The Works: Struggle and Evolution
  • Chapter Seven Feuille de route
  • Chapter Eight: The Early Songs: Paths to Maturity
  • Chapter Nine: Franckian Engagement and Disengagement: The Early Works (1899−1910)
  • Chapter Ten: Individuation: Polyphème and the War Years(1910–1922)
  • Chapter Eleven: The Laboratory
  • Chapter Twelve: A nod at the old sod …
  • Conclusion to an introduction . . .
  • Appendices
  • Appendix A Chronological List of Jean Cras’ Compositions
  • Appendix b: Précis to the Violin Sonata, L’esprit (‘The Mind’), May 1900
  • Appendix B Précis to the unpublished Viola Sonata, L’âme (‘The Soul’), September 1900
  • Appendix C La règle-rapporteur Cras972
  • Bibliography
  • Index

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List of Figures

2.1 Jean Cras, cadet, c. 1896

2.2 With Njal off the Iceland coast, June 1902

2.3 Cartoon of Jean Cras, Professor of Naval Architecture, c. 1910

2.4 Jean Cras, front centre, facing right, and his crew aboard the Commandant-Bory at Taranto, January 1917; lying on a piece of equipment to his left is Polyte, the ship’s combat-ready hound

2.5 Aboard the Amiral-Sénès, 1921

2.6 Jean Cras in his quarters aboard the Amiral-Sénès, c. 1921

2.7 In full regalia Rear-Admiral, May–June 1931

2.8 Rear-Admiral Cras, 1932

2.9 Polyte, Weathervane and Ubiquitous Nuisance par excellence

3.1 Brest’s Cours d’Ajot, c. 1900

3.2 Jean Cras, infant, with his siblings. Left to right: Charles, Marie, Gabrielle, Amélie, Mathilde (whose left hand is on Pauline’s shoulder), Pauline (between Amélie and Mathilde); Jean is the youngest; Pierre is on his way

3.3 Jean Cras with his first violin

3.4 The little chapel at Saint-Marc where Jean Cras made his conducting début

3.5 The future Mme Jean Cras, Isaure Paul, c. 1900

3.6 Jean and Isaure’s wedding announcement photo, Brest 1906

3.7 Charles, Pierre and Jean Cras, c. 1903

3.8 Jean and Isaure, Monique, Colette and Isaure (‘Zézette’), c. 1913

3.9 The Cras children, June 1924: Isaure, Colette, Jean-Pierre and Monique

3.10 Jean Cras, c. 1925

3.11 Colette, Sacha, Marianne and Mireille Tansman, c. 1945

5.1 Henri Duparc

5.2 Jean Cras in his living room aboard the battleship Provence, ca. 1928. Cras bought the piano from Duparc at “a very interesting” price

5.3 Manuel de Falla’s signature in Jean Cras’ Livre d’or, Cádiz, 21 December 1926

5.4 King Alfonso XIII, front row, right, with Jean Cras, to his left, meeting his senior officers, Barcelona, May 1929, aboard the Provence

5.5 The Spanish Royal Family’s signatures in the guest book, Santander, 26 July 1928

5.6 Programme of the Comédie française aboard the Provence, 24 May 1929, during the Barcelona World’s Fair

6.1 The Cras family’s faire-part of Jean Cras’ death. (Courtesy of the Cras Family)

6.2 A late etching of Jean Cras by Monique Cras (Courtesy of the Cras family)

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6.3 Jean Cras’ funeral cortège

6.4 Programme of one of the benefit concerts, this one performed at Salle Gaveau, Paris, to raise funds for Jean Cras’ memorial monument (Courtesy of the Cras Family)

6.5 The Jean Cras Memorial at Brest’s Cours d’Ajot (Courtesy, Bibliothèque municipale de Brest)

6.6 Saint-Pol-Roux’s memorial poem, in the official commemorative booklet produced in 1935 by l’Imprimerie de La Dépêche for the inauguration of Cras’ monument (Courtesy, Bibliothèque municipale de Brest)

D.1 La règle-rapporteur Cras

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List of Music Examples

7.1 The Lombard rhythm and its variations

7.2 Mendelssohn, Symphony No. 3, second movement

8.1 A une enfant, opening

8.2 Dans l’alcôve sombre, opening

8.3 Chanson, opening

8.4 Je suis l’oiseau, opening

8.5 Nuit de lune, opening

8.6 Ballade, opening

8.7 Avril, opening

8.8 Les trois oiseaux, opening

8.9 Brunette, opening

8.10 Triste exilé, opening

8.11 Au mois de rose éclose, opening

8.12 Mutisme, opening

8.13 Les morceaux du paradis, opening

8.14 Chanson d’automne, opening

8.15a Chanson d’été (Version 1), opening

8.15b Chanson d’été (Version 2), opening

8.16 Chanson de printemps, opening

8.17 Hiver, opening

8.18 Chanson d’hiver, opening

8.19 Chanson japonaise, opening

8.20 Avril d’amour, opening

8.21 Hiver, opening

8.22 Aurore, opening

8.23 Elégie, opening

8.24a Ophélie, opening

8.24b Ophélie, song entry

8.25 Chant d’automne, opening

8.26a Les Chaînes, opening

8.26b Les Chaînes, song entry

8.27 Chant d’amour, opening

8.28 La chanson du souvenir, opening

8.29 Derniers vers de Musset, opening

8.30 Viens, Chère, opening

8.31 Vierge lointaine, opening

8.32 Minute d’extase, opening

8.33a Heures ternes, opening

8.33b Heures ternes, song entry

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8.34 Désir d’hiver, opening

8.35 La vie antérieure, opening

8.36 Mélancholie, opening

8.37 La Cloche, opening

8.38 Puisque nulle moisson au monde, opening

9.1 Panis angelicus, opening

9.2 Ave verum corpus, opening

9.3 Douceur du soir, opening

9.4 Mains lasses, opening

9.5 L’espoir luit, opening

9.6 Le son du cor, opening

9.7 Le son du cor, mm. 13–15

9.8 Rêverie, mm. 18 et seq.

9.9 Rêverie, opening

9.10 Nocturne, opening

9.11 Correspondances, opening

9.12 Correspondances, mm. 21 ff.

9.13 Sonate pour violon et piano, opening

9.14 Sonate pour violon et piano, first movement, m. 42 ff.

9.15 Sonate pour violon et piano, first movement, m. 70 ff.

9.16 Sonate pour violon et piano, second movement, opening

9.17 Sonate pour violon et piano, second movement, mm. 151–159

9.18 Sonate pour violon et piano, third movement, opening

9.19 Sonate pour violon et piano, third movement, mm. 183 to conclusion

9.20a Cras: Sonate pour violoncelle, opening

9.20b Brahms: Sonata in F major for ’cello and piano, Op. 99, opening

9.21 Sonate pour violoncelle, first movement, mm. 12–19

9.22 Sonate pour violoncelle, first movement, mm. 120–125

9.23 Sonate pour violoncelle, Lent, opening

9.24 Sonate pour violoncelle, Animé, opening

9.25 Largo, opening, and closing cyclic recall

9.26 En Islande, opening

9.27a Preludio, opening

9.27b Fughetta, mm. 90 et seq.

9.28 Au fil de l’eau, opening

9.29 Recueillement, opening

9.30 La maison du matin, opening

9.31 Grande marche nuptiale, opening

9.32a Trio pour piano, violon et violoncelle, opening

9.32b Trio pour piano, violon et violoncelle, Finale, opening

9.33 Trio pour piano, violon et violoncelle, Choral, opening

9.34a Beethoven: Piano Sonata in G major, Opus 14, No. 2, opening

9.34b Cras: Trio pour piano, violon et violoncelle, Modéré, mm. 41 et seq.

9.35a Beethoven: ’Cello Sonata, Opus 5, No. 2, first movement, mm. 45 et seq.

9.35b Cras: Trio pour piano, violon et violoncelle, Vif et léger, opening

9.36 Cras: Trio pour piano, violon et violoncelle, Finale, conclusion

9.37 Kyrie

←xiv | xv→

9.38 Gloria

9.39 Sanctus

9.40 Benedictus

9.41 Agnus Dei

9.42 Quatuor pour cordes ‘à ma Bretagne’: Thematic scheme

9.43 Regina cœli, opening

9.44 Ave Maria, opening

9.45 Elégies, Désir, mm. 18–21

9.46 Elégies, Dans le parc, opening

9.47 Elégies, Soir, opening

9.48a Franck Sonate pour violon, second movement, mm. 48 et seq.

9.48b Cras: Elégies, Soir, mm. 24 et seq.

9.49 Elégies, Arrière-saison, mm. 4−6

10.1 Polyphème, opening

10.2 Polyphème, Acte I, Premier tableau, mm. 36–37, p. 2

10.3 Polyphème, Acte I, mm. 272 ff., p. 32

10.4 Polyphème, Acte I, Le sommeil de Galatée, mm. 2–4, p. 46

10.5 Polyphème, Acte II, mm. 183 ff., p. 97

10.6 Polyphème, Acte II, mm. 268 ff., p. 68

10.7 Polyphème, Acte II, mm. 348 ff., p. 109

10.8 Polyphème, Acte IV, mm. 113 ff., p. 148

10.9 Polyphème, Acte I, mm. 29 ff., p. 48

10.10 La demeure de Galatée, Deuxième tableau, Acte I, opening, p. 52

10.11 Polyphème, Acte III, mm. 114 ff., p. 122

10.12 Polyphème, conclusion

10.13 Danza mórbida, opening

10.14a Danza scherzosa, opening

10.14b Danza scherzosa, mm. 9–10

10.15 Danza scherzosa, mm. 25 ff.

10.16 Danza scherzosa, mm. 56–59

10.17 Danza ténera, opening

10.18 Danza animata, opening

10.19 Danza animata, mm. 134–141

10.20 Paysage maritime, opening

10.21a Paysage champêtre, opening

10.21b Paysage champêtre, mm. 25 ff.

10.22 Ames d’enfants, Pures, opening

10.23 Ames d’enfants, Pures, mm. 43 ff.

10.24 Ames d’enfants, Pures, mm. 95–101

10.25 Ames d’enfants, Naïves, opening

10.26a Ames d’enfants, Naïves, mm. 55 et seq.

10.26b Ames d’enfants, Naïves, m. 12

10.26c Ames d’enfants, Naïves, mm. 91–94

10.27 Ames d’enfants, Mystérieuses, opening

10.28a Ames d’enfants, Mystérieuses, mm. 11 ff.

10.28b Ames d’enfants, Mystérieuses, mm. 24 ff.

10.28c Ames d’enfants, Mystérieuses, mm. 63 ff.

←xv | xvi→

10.29 Ames d’enfants, Mystérieuses, mm. 82 ff.

10.30 Ames d’enfants, Mystérieuses, conclusion

10.31 Premier anniversaire, opening

10.32 L’offrande lyrique, Cueille cette frêle fleur, opening

10.33 L’offrande lyrique, Si tu ne parles pas …, opening

10.34 L’offrande lyrique, Si tu ne parles pas …, conclusion

10.35 L’offrande lyrique, Si le jour est passé …, opening

10.36 L’offrande lyrique, A mes côtés, il est venu s’asseoir …, opening

10.37 L’offrande lyrique, Oui, je le sais bien …, opening

10.38 L’offrande lyrique, Oui, je le sais bien …, mm. 18 ff.

10.39 L’offrande lyrique, Oui, je le sais bien …, conclusion

10.40 L’offrande lyrique, Lumière! …, opening

10.41 L’offrande lyrique, Lumière! …, mm. 25 et seq.

10.42 Image, complete

11.1 Quintette pour piano et cordes, Clair et joyeux, opening

11.2 Quintette pour piano et cordes, Clair et joyeux, mm. 73 et seq.

11.3 Quintette pour piano et cordes, Clair et joyeux, mm. 136 et seq.

11.4 Quintette pour piano et cordes, Clair et joyeux, mm. 179 ff.

11.5 Quintette pour piano et cordes, Calme et paisible, opening

11.6 Quintette pour piano et cordes, Calme et paisible, mm. 370–373

11.7 Quintette pour piano et cordes, Calme et paisible, mm. 393–396

11.8 Quintette pour piano et cordes, Alerte et décidé, opening

11.9 Quintette pour piano et cordes, Alerte et décidé, mm. 569 et seq.

11.10 Quintette pour piano et cordes, Ardent et fier, opening

11.11 Quintette pour piano et cordes, Ardent et fier, mm. 689–690

11.12 Quintette pour piano et cordes, Ardent et fier, mm. 741–743 (’cello)

11.13 Quintette pour piano et cordes, Ardent et fier, mm. 726–729 (viola)

11.14 Fontaines, Hommage à la fontaine, opening

11.15 Fontaines, De bon matin, opening

11.16 Fontaines, Offrande, opening

11.17 Fontaines, Offrande, mm. 19 et seq.

11.18 Fontaines, Reste, opening

11.19 Fontaines, L’antique fontaine, opening

11.20 Fontaines, L’antique fontaine, mm. 9–13

11.21 Fontaines, L’antique fontaine, mm. 18–20

11.22 Cinq Robaïyats de Omar Khayyam, Chaque matin, opening


XXII, 604
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2021 (December)
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2022. XXII, 604 pp., 10 fig. col., 286 fig. b/w.

Biographical notes

Paul-André Bempéchat (Author)

Franco-Canadian pianist and musicologist Paul-André Bempéchat studied at the Manhattan and Juilliard Schools of Music and the Sorbonne. A contributor to The Revised New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, and to numerous academic and performing arts journals, Bempéchat has enjoyed research and lecturing appointments at Harvard University, where he remains an affiliate at its Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, and a visiting lecturer at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Bempéchat sustains the career which has brought him to the Wiener Festwoch and Berlin’s Konzerthaus. In 2017, the author was decorated Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture and as Honourary Fellow of the Royal Academic Chapel and Orchestra at Uppsala University.


Title: Jean Cras, Polymath of Music and Letters