Jean Cras in his Naval Uniform

Jean Cras with his cat

Dear Friends, Music Lovers and Francophiles,

Dr. Paul-André Bempéchat), Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres as well as Artist-in-Residence at Leverett House, Harvard University, and Visiting Lecturer at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, is the leading international authority the Breton impressionist, Jean Cras (1879-1932). His biography, Jean Cras, Polymath of Music and Letters is set to go into its second edition, due to be published by Paul Lang. Jean Cras was the only pupil Henri Duparc, the Dean of French art song, who was his mentor and lifelong friend. During his lifetime, Cras published half of his art songs, all stemming from adulthood. It is only recently, with the approval of his descendants, that we are able to release the 38 early songs, which demonstrate the originality of his prosody and remarkable progress toward the establishment of his original tonal landscape. Ayotte Custom Musical Engravings is proud to be partnering with Dr. Bempéchat to publish a volume of Cras's Album de Jeunesse--his youthful songs from the years 1892-1901. These 38 songs include settings of poetry by Alfred Droin (1878-1967), Armand Silvestre (1837-1901), Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867), Charles-Jean Grandmougin (1850-1930), Christian Maréchal (1875-1949), Francois Coppée (1842-1908), Georges Rodenbach (1855 – 1898), Jean Aicard (1848-1921), Jean Rameau (1859-1942), Maurice Maeterlinck (1862-1949), and Victor Hugo (1802-1885) among others. In addition to the publication, this project will result in a complete recording of the songs. If you'd like to support this culturally important work, please click HERE for the GoFundMe page.

This project involves the transcription of manuscripts to digital music calligraphy for the first edition, publication, and recording of Jean Cras' unpublished 38 songs from his youth and adolescence. This will constitute a major addition not only to Cras research but to the vocal literature itself. He, as editor and pianist, will be joined in the project by Dr. Benjamin Ayotte (music calligrapher) and soprano Jenny Sandelin. The initial run will consist of 500 scores and as 1500 CD sets Be. péchat will serve as editor of the collection and will be writing an introductory, historical essay as well as providing fingerings, as well as pianist for the recordings. The projected release date for both the collection of songs and the CDs is March 1, 2019. Contributions are tax-deductible and may be sent to the Publication Projects Fund at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, per Ms. Lynn Tibbets, 621 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115. Please feel free to contact me for further information.

Here is an example of a manuscript page and its typesetting from Cras's setting of "La Vie Anterieure" by Charles Baudelaire (1821 - 1867) from that poet's collection "Les Fleurs du Mal" of 1857. Please enjoy the audio sample.

Cras' setting of

Jean Cras's Compositional Output


Published excerpts:

Vocal compositions

1. Douceur du soir, poem by Georges Rodenbach (1901)
2. Mains lasses, poem by Georges Rodenbach (1905)
3. L’espoir luit, poem by Paul Verlaine (Sagesse III), (1900, 1st ed.; 1909, éd. mutuelle de la Schola Cantorum)
4. Le Son du cor, poem by Paul Verlaine (Sagesse X), (1900)
5. Rêverie, poem by Alfred Droin, (1903, 1st ed.; 1909, éd. mutuelle de la Schola Cantorum)
6. Nocturne, poem by Alfred Droin, (1903, 1st ed.; 1909, éd. mutuelle de la Schola Cantorum)
7. Correspondances, poem by Charles Baudelaire (1901)
1. Kyrie (1907)
2. Gloria (1907)
3. Sanctus (1908)
4. Benedictus (1908)

Chamber music

1. Air varé (1926, Ed. Salabert)
2. Habañera (1927, Ed. Salabert)
3. Evocation (1928, Ed.Salabert)
4. Epologue (1929, Ed. Salabert)

Piano works

1. En Islande (1902, Ed. Eschig)
2. Preludio con fughetta (1902, Ed. Eschig)
3. Au fil de l'eau (1911, Ed. Eschig)
4. Recueillement (1904, Ed. Eschig)
5. La maison du matin (1911, Ed. Eschig)


Orchestral works