Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Jean Cras

I was driving home from an appointment this morning and on the car radio the presenter announced a Piano Concerto by Jean Cras.  Jean Cras?  I'd never heard of him.  The Concerto was accessible and accomplished and worth hearing again.

Cras was a French composer whose main career was in the Navy (in which capacity he also invented an electrical selector and a navigational plotter protractor, which was used until replaced by an electronic equivalent.).  He wrote a great deal of his work in his spare time, which makes him an amateur composer - indeed, from the biography on this site it seems he was mainly a self-taught composer, apart from a brief three-month stint with the older composer, Duparc, who admired his talent immensely.  However, it might also be considered that he was a man who managed to combine two careers, both of them effectively.

He wrote a substantial number of works, including an opera that was so successful it made him a household name for a period.   However, the bulk of his work is chamber music.  Until recently his music had almost entirely vanished from the repertoire.  There is now an increasing impetus to bring him back into focus again, and people are beginning to enjoy this music that has rarely been heard for more than half a century.

Strangely, neither of the biographical links above mention his Piano Concerto!
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