Arthur Honegger

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Honegger, Arthur

Honegger, Arthur (hŭnˈēgər, Fr. ärtür ônāgĕrˈ), 1892–1955, Swiss-French composer, studied at the conservatories of Zürich and Paris. One of the group of Parisian composers called Les Six, he wrote music ranging from satire to intensely religious works that are marked by incisive rhythms and sharp dissonances, often the result of his use of polytonality. Besides Pacific 231 (1923)—the first of three mouvements symphoniques—his outstanding works are of a theatrical nature, such as ballets, the operas Judith (1926) and Antigone (1927, libretto by Jean Cocteau), music for films, including Mayerling (1935), and the stage oratorio King David (1921). He also set texts of Paul Claudel to music.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Honegger, Arthur


Born Mar. 10, 1892, in Le Havre; died Nov. 27, 1955, in Paris. French composer and music figure. Of Swiss parentage. Member of the Institut de France (1953).

Honegger studied under A. Gedalge, C. M. Widor, and V. d’Indy. In the 1920’s he was a member of the group known as Les Six. He was influenced by I. Stravinsky, E. Satie, and J. Cocteau, all of whom opposed impressionism and expressionism. As far back as the mid-1920’s, however, Honegger followed an independent course. In the 1930’s he was an active figure in the National Music Federation. He composed music for outdoor presentations of plays, including The Fourteenth of July (1936, Paris) and Liberty (1937), and wrote popular songs and marches. In 1928, Honegger visited the USSR, where he gave concerts in which he conducted his own works.

Honegger’s work combines, in an original fashion, the traditions of French and Swiss folk and professional music with the best of 20th-century music. His works are distinguished by their humanism and progressive, antifascist tendencies. He contributed much to the development of the oratorio. In his oratorios, elements of neoclassicism and romanticism are refracted through the prism of his artistic individuality. Of these works, the most notable are the dramatic oratorio King David (1921, 3rd ed., 1924), the oratorio Cries of the World (1931), the dramatic oratorio Joan of Arc at the Stake (1935), the cantata Song of Liberation (1942), and the Christmas Cantata (1953). Honegger wrote five symphonies (1930–50) and other orchestral works, including Pacific 231 (1923) and Monopartite (1951). He also wrote ballets, operettas, romances, songs, piano pieces, and music for the theater, radio, and screen.


Incantation aux fossiles. Lausanne, 1948.
In Russian translation:
Ia—kompozitor. Leningrad, 1963.


Rappoport, L. Artur Onegger. Leningrad, 1967.
Rappoport, L. “Nekotorye osobennosti garmonii A. Oneggera.” In the
collection Problemy lada. Moscow, 1972. Shneerson, G. Frantsuzskaia muzyka XX veka, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1970. Pavchinskii, S. Simfonicheskoe tvorchestvo A. Oneggera. Moscow, 1972. Gérard, C. A. Honegger. Brussels, 1945. Guibert, J. A. Honegger. Paris [1959].


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.