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The Pavane in F-sharp minor, op. 50, is a composition for orchestra and optional chorus by the French composer Gabriel Faure and dates from 1887. Obtaining its rhythm from the slow processional Spanish court dance of the same name, the Pavane ebbs and flows from a series of harmonic and medodic climaxes, conjuring a cool, somewhat haunting, Belle Epoque elegance. The piece is scored for only modest orchestral forces consisting of strings and woodwind. A typical performance lasts around seven minutes.
When Faur� began work on the Pavane, he envisaged a purely orchestral work to be played at a series of light summer concerts conducted by Jules Danbe. After Faur� opted to dedicate the work to his patron, Elizabeth, contesse Greffulhe, he felt compelled to stage a grander affair and thus he added an invisible chorus to accompany the orchestra (with additional allowance for dancers). The choral lyrics were based on some inconsequential verses, � la Verlaine, on the romantic helplessness of man, which had been contributed by the Countess’ cousin, Robert de Montesquiou-Fezensac.
The orchestral version was first performed at a Concert Lamoureux under the baton of Charles Lamoureux on 25th November 1888. Three days later, the choral version was premiered at a concert of the Societe Nationale de Musique. In 1891, the Countess finally helped Faur� produce the version with both dancers and chorus, in a "choreographic spectacle" designed to grace one of her garden parties in the Bois de Boulogne.
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