Les Éolides

César Franck

Les Éolides

FWV43, M43

About this work

Les Éolides was written in 1876 and premiered the following year. Like the later Psyché, it is a symphonic poem based on the Greek classical mythology, in this case an episode in Homer's Odyssey. Eolus is the Greek god of the wind and the Éolides are the breezes which are sent by Poseidon to aid Odysseus in his return voyage. The work is of much more modest dimensions than Psyché. Unlike Le Chausseur Maudit, it is not obvious that the piece is the telling of a story. The 10-minute work is gentle throughout and without great changes in dynamics or mood. The orchestration is transparent, and the harp plays an important role. The thematic material is extremely chromatic but the work always maintains a clear feeling of major mode. Although three main themes could be discerned, they clearly inhabit the same harmonic and melodic world and consequently the piece could be considered monothematic. They appear successively and then simultaneously, a favorite device of the composer. An attractive mood piece, even if the personal style of Franck is not yet clearly discernible. n