Paul Emile Ladmirault
- Category : Entertain-Music-Conductor
- Type : PE
- Profile : 6/3 - Role Model / Martyr
- Definition : Split - Small (12,36)
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Separation 2
Paul Ladmirault (8 December 1877 – 30 October 1944) was a French composer 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.
Ladmirault was born in Nantes. A child prodigy, he learned piano, organ and violin from an early age. At the age of 8, 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 orchestra and piano. The ballet, La Prêtesse de Korydwenn (The Priestess of Ceridwen) was created at the Paris Opera 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.
A plaque commemorating Ladmirault at his home in Nantes. It states, "he studied music in Nantes then at Paris under Gabriel Fauré, where he achieved the highest distinction. His music was inspired by classical literature and ancient Celtic legend (Merlin, Brocéliande, Tristan)."
All Ladmirault's music is imbued with his attachment to Brittany. It is found throughout his Gaelic Rhapsody, Briere, Forest and Symphony in four movements. 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'. 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.