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Henri Büsser

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Paul Henri Büsser (16 January 1872 – 30 December 1973) was a French classical composer, organist, and conductor.
Büsser was born in Toulouse of partly German ancestry. He entered the Paris Conservatoire in 1889, where he studied organ with César Franck and composition with Ernest Guiraud. Employed for a while as secretary to Charles Gounod, he received valuable advice from that composer, who helped him obtain a position as organist at Saint-Cloud. In 1893, he won the Prix de Rome, and on his return from Italy he began a career as a conductor. At the personal request of Claude Debussy, Büsser led the fourth performance, and numerous subsequent performances, of Pelléas et Mélisande. He also became a protégé of Jules Massenet and was one of his closest friends during the last two decades of his life (Massenet died in 1912).
In 1921, Büsser began teaching at the Paris Conservatoire, and was promoted to professor of composition in 1931. Noted students include Prix de Rome winner Henri Challan, the Japanese composer Tomojirō Ikenouchi (1906–1991) and Henri Dutilleux (1916-2013). The Académie française elected him as member in 1938. He married the famous dramatic soprano Yvonne Gall (1885–1972).
While Büsser composed a wide range of compositions, his most important works were for the stage. His operas include Daphnis et Chloé, Colomba and Les Noces corinthiennes. Several stage works demonstrate his comic wit, especially Le Carrosse du Saint Sacrement and Roxelane as well as the farce Diaforus 60, an update of Molière's Le malade imaginaire. He composed in a sophisticated compositional style with finely crafted orchestration, but remained faithful to 19th-century French tradition.
His orchestrations of Debussy's Petite suite and Printemps are considered standards, as is his crisp, authoritative conducting of the first nearly complete 1930 early electrical HMV recording of Gounod's Faust featuring the great tenor César Vezzani in the title role and the renowned bass Marcel Journet, who as a Metropolitan star had sung and recorded Méphistophelès' key arias and ensembles with Caruso on Victor acoustical records earlier in the century. These recordings have all been transferred to CD.
Late in his life, he was made a Grand Officier de la Légion d'honneur. Büsser died in Paris at the age of 101, just short of his 102nd birthday. He lived for many years at 71 Avenue Kléber.