Thursday, December 20, 2012

Fauré: Dolly (Siegel & Léonet)

Gabriel Fauré playing a duet with Mlle. Lombard, 1913
(the daughter of his host at Lake Lugano)
Christmas is for children, and what better way to celebrate the season of the birth of the Child who changed the world, than with a work not only written for children, but played by them?  Here's is Fauré's delightful suite written for Hélène Bardac, the young daughter of the singer Emma Bardac, with whom Fauré had a long-running affair.  It is said that Hélène was so tiny when she was born that she was nicknamed Dolly, hence the title of Fauré's suite:

Fauré: Dolly - Suite for piano duet, Op. 56
Anita Siegel and Babeth Léonet, pianists
Recorded May 9 and November 11, 1934
Columbia 9103-M and 4120-M, one 12" and one 10" record
Link (FLAC file, 32.11 MB)
Link (MP3 file, 20.26 MB)

Later, Mme. Bardac became Debussy's second wife, so that Dolly and Claude-Emma Debussy (the "Chouchou" of Children's Corner fame) were stepsisters, with some thirteen years difference in their ages.

The Gramophone Shop Encyclopedia of 1936 states that the performers on this recording were "child pupils of Marguerite Long," herself a renowned interpreter of Fauré's music.  Anita Siegel appears also to have studied with Lazare Lévy, and to have perished in the Holocaust (she died in 1943, aged 22).  Babeth Léonet may still be alive at age 91.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

P.S. (January 3, 2015): A niece of Anita Siegel has kindly come forward and informed me that her aunt did not perish in the Holocaust, but fell to her death from the balcony of her apartment in Grenoble, whence she had moved from Neuilly after her marriage in 1941.  She was a few months pregnant at the time of this tragic accident.


  1. Happy Holidays to you !!! and THX for all these beautiful posts.

  2. This is what it's all about, eh? Thank you SO much for the perfect present! I just wish I could reciprocate right now, but I very much hope I will be able to, soon. Thanks for 2012 and best wishes for 2013, Nick

  3. Bryan, Thank you a thousand million times for the exsquisite 'Dolly' suite!!!! As Nick says, the perfect present. The more
    so for being totally unexpected [that you would be beavering away so near Christmas]. I've looked for these records, or for
    someone to include them in a transfer, for 50+ years. It was
    worth the wait. Bless you! May your Christmas be as merry as
    you have made mine!

  4. Thank you for this! One 10 inch and one 12 inch record must pretty well ensure that a complete set is near impossible to come by!--Bill

  5. Bryan, I didn't want to let Christmas pass witout saying thank you, for all the music you've given us in 2012! THe quality of the material, of the transfers and of the commentary is just wonderful, and I learn so much every time I come here. If only I had time to come more often!! Thank you & all best for 2013.