Paris-Manchester 1918
Conservatoires in time of war

Tribute to Fernand Halphen

After his death on 16 May 1917 at Hospital No. 62 in Paris,[1] Fernand Halphen’s memory would be celebrated by the Conservatoire: his Sonata for violin and piano was performed on 17 June 1917 at the fourth Festival of French Music[2] held at the Conservatoire, then in December 1917 at the concert of the Franco-American Committee of the Conservatoire.[3]

His wife Alice de Koenigswarter established the Fernand Halphen Foundation to support composition students at the Conservatoire. This tribute by the composer André Gédalge,[4] teacher of counterpoint and fugue at the Conservatoire from 1905, emphasises, in addition to his academic distinctions (diplomas, prix de Rome), Halphen’s good character and patriotism. There is constant reference to his close relationship with the Conservatoire.

Fernand Halphen began his studies in music under Gabriel Fauré; he then entered the Conservatoire, where he was taught by Guiraud, Massenet and Gédalge.

Winner of a certificate of merit for fugue in 1895 and second in the Grand Prix de Rome in 1896, the impression that Fernand Halphen left on all who knew him was that of a man of integrity and a fine, discerning musician who was deeply in love with his art. As kind to others as he was strict with himself, and as modest as he was good, he maintained a profound gratitude towards the school where he had received his training. The affection in which he held this school and his teachers is attested to by the fact that at the very moment when – with a calm joy and the most absolute faith in our final victory – he answered his country’s call, one of his last thoughts was for the fellow students whom he would never know.

André Gédalge.

André Gédalge (1917) Tribute to Fernand Halphen, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Music Department, Est. Halphen 001 [on line].
Document description: printed document; 21×14 cm.

Schnapper Laure, 2014 : « Fernand Halphen (1872-1917), un musicien au service de la France », in Doé de Maindreville Florence, Etcharry Stéphan (dir.), La Grande Guerre en musique. Vie et création musicales en France pendant la Première Guerre mondiale, Bruxelles : éd. Peter Lang, p. 121-138.

Schnapper Laure (dir.), 2017 : Du salon au front. Fernand Halphen (1872-1917), Paris : Hermann.


[1]Laure Schnapper (ed.) (2017) Du salon au front. Fernand Halphen (1872-1917), Paris: Hermann, p. 308.

[2]La Musique pendant la guerre: revue musicale mensuelle, No. 9b, 17 June 1917 [on line]:].

[3]Le courrier musical, 1 January 1918.