Paul Ladmirault

Mixed chorus
Pump organ
Religious music
by popularity
4 Esquisses pour pianoDollyHommage à Gabriel FauréMémoires d'un AneQuelques vieux cantiques bretonsRhapsodie gaéliqueVariations sur des airs de biniou trégorois
Paul Émile Ladmirault (8 December 1877 – 30 October 1944) was a French composer and music critic whose music expressed his devotion to Brittany. Claude Debussy wrote that his work possessed a "fine dreamy musicality", commenting on its characteristically hesitant character by suggesting that it sounded as if it was "afraid of expressing itself too much". Florent Schmitt said of him: "Of all the musicians of his generation, he was perhaps the most talented, most original, but also the most modest". Peter Warlock dedicated his Capriol Suite to him and Swan Hennessy his Trio, Op. 54.
Ladmirault was born in Nantes. A child prodigy, he learned piano, organ and violin from an early age. At the age of eight, he composed a sonata for violin and piano. At the age of fifteen, when still a student of the Nantes High School, he wrote a three-act opera Gilles de Retz. It was first performed on 18 May 1893.
He was admitted to the Paris Conservatoire to study under Gabriel Fauré, learning harmony under Antoine Taudou and counterpoint from André Gedalge. He orchestrated a few works by Fauré. Like his fellow students – Maurice Ravel, Florent Schmitt, Louis Aubert, Jean Roger-Ducasse, Georges Enesco – he had become well known before he left the Conservatory. In 1903, he wrote a Breton Suite in three movements and then the Brocéliande de matin. These two works were orchestral extracts from his second opera Myrdhin (Merlin), an epic work which he worked on from 1902-9, and continued to revise until 1921, but which has never been performed.
He also wrote Young Cervantes for small orchestra, Valse triste and Épousailles for piano and orchestra. The ballet La Prêtesse de Korydwenn (The Priestess of Ceridwen) was first performed at the Paris Opéra on 17 December 1926.
In the field of religious music, he wrote a brief mass for organ and choir and a Tantum ergo for voice, organ and orchestra.
He also wrote articles on music in various periodicals. Appointed professor of harmony and counterpoint at the Nantes conservatoire, Ladmirault rarely left the Nantes region, calling himself a "homebody" who disliked to travel.
He died in Kerbili en Kamoel, St. Nagoire, France.
All Ladmirault's music is imbued with his attachment to Brittany. It is found throughout his Gaelic Rhapsody, Briere, Forest and a symphony (1909). He was also closely associated with Breton nationalism. He advocated cultural autonomy for Brittany in the face of the centralisation of French culture in Paris and became a subscriber of the Breton fascist paper Breiz da Zont, an offshoot of the Breton Autonomist Party. He also joined the artistic group Seiz Breur. He was initiated into the Celtic esotericist movement led by François Jaffrenou. In 1908, the Gorsedd of Brittany nominated him as a Druid, and he took up the bardic name 'Oriav'. In 1912, Ladmirault was one of the founding members of the short-lived Association des Compositeurs Breton. He composed music on Celtic themes, such as the ballet La Prêtesse de Korydwenn and the symphonic poem he wrote as musical accompaniment for the film La Brière. He worked on translations of ancient Gallic texts.
In 1928, Ladmirault published a manifesto of Breton music in the first issue of the Celticist journal Kornog. He argued that Breton composers should follow the example of the Mighty Handful, the Russian nationalist musical group, by rejecting German and Italian musical models and relying on folk traditions and pentatonic scales. Nevertheless, he took the view that Breton folk music was cruder than its "civilised" Irish and Scottish counterparts. He justified his use of only Irish musical sources in his Celtic ballet La Prêtesse de Korydwenn, writing "several themes, jigs, war dances are Irish. You would find no borrowings from Breton folk music".
In 1929, he helped to found the Nantes Celtic Circle.