Andante et Allegro
Guy Ropartz (1864-1955)

Biographical Info

Composer Joseph Guy Marie Ropartz Joseph Guy Ropartz enjoyed a lifespan that cut across an enormous territory of French music; when he was born, Jacques Offenbach had just premiered La belle Hélène and the year he died, Henri Dutilleux rolled out his second symphony. Ropartz also achieved an astounding rite of passage in his own work, starting out deep inside the Franck school, but also embracing impressionist language and ultimately emerging the as the chief tone poet of his native region, Brittany; late in life Guy Ropartz flirted with neo-classicism.

As a child, he played bugle, horn, and double bass in a local orchestra, but his father desired him to prepare himself for life in a more secure profession. Therefore, he was given a Jesuit education, then studied law and literature, obtaining a degree from Rennes in 1885. Having thus satisfied his father’s wishes that he prepare himself for profession, Ropartz then enrolled at the Paris Conservatoire. His early training in composition was with Theodore Dubois, then with Jules Massenet. He also wrote poetry at the time.

In 1886, Ropartz heard the composition Le chant de la cloche (The Song of the Bell) by Vincent d’Indy, a leading disciple of the Belgian-born composer César Franck. Highly impressed, Ropartz left the Conservatoire to study with Franck. He adopted elements of Franck’s individual use of chromatic harmony and, even more important to Ropartz’ music, Franck’s use of cyclic forms.

The influence of d’Indy and Franck is evident in his first orchestral work, La Cloche des morts (The Death Knell). His next few works then began to show the literary, pictorial, and folk influence of Brittany, the northwest French region that was his native province, and were well received.

In 1894, he accepted an invitation to become the director of the Nancy Conservatory. Henceforth, he made his career outside Paris, the musical center of the country. Because of this, he remained less well known and continued composing in his habitual style, outside the mainstream of the historical development of twentieth century styles. At the time, he was the youngest conservatory director in France, but his directorship of the Nancy Conservatory was a brilliant success. It became one of the leading regional music training institutions in the country; the authoritative Groves Dictionary says he “brought about a musical renaissance in Nancy.” Conducting and presenting serious and penetrating readings were among his talents.

After 25 years in Nancy, he accepted an invitation in 1919 to take a similar job in Strasbourg, in addition to taking the helm of the local symphony. Strasbourg, the capital of Alsace-Lorraine, had just been recovered from Germany, which had occupied it from the Franco-Prussian War in 1871 to the end of the First World War. Ropartz’ task was to promote French music there, to bring the region and the conservatory back into French musical life. Again, he was highly successful. In 1929, at the age of 65, he retired from his positions and returned to his native Brittany.

He lived to be 91 and wrote about 200 works during this long life. His last large-scale work was his string quartet, composed in 1951. He wrote five symphonies, other orchestral music, chamber music, choral music, stage music, and an opera, Le Pays (The Country), premiered in Nancy in 1912 and later heard in Paris. Late in life he changed his surname to “Guy-Ropartz.” His music was always well regarded for its logic, clarity, and lack of excessive material. He ultimately adopted the neo-Classical style that had arisen in Paris in the period between the wars, de-emphasizing Franckian chromaticism and striving for a new leanness of sound and more concise formal ideas.

© Joseph Stevenson, All Music Guide

Suggested Equipment

Bb trumpet or cornet.  No mutes.

Practice/Performance Tips

This is an extremely popular piece among advancing high school players and early college level players.  I use it quite often in my studio.  It’s a great vehicle for showing off the lyrical and majestic nature of the trumpet.  It is not terribly demanding although it does get a little tiring toward the end.  As the title implies, the work is divided into two sections; a lyrical opening and a majestic second half.

A couple point about the Andante section:

  • There are a number of repeated notes.  Make them expressive and do not play a note the same way twice.
  • In the 4th line down there is a 4 ½ measure crescendo.  Try to make it one long crescendo and not four hairpin <> crescendi.  The key is to hold the note before the rest full value and play through it.
  • The opening section is in d minor.  Make sure that last d is triggered!

Ropartz Andante


  • Notice that the first and third measures of this section are beamed differently than say, measures 5-7.  I believe that this implies we should think of measures 1 and 3 in “one”, with one strong pulse on the downbeat.  Then, in measures 5 and onward go back into a “two pulse”.
  • Take a HUGE breath before the last measure on page one, because you should try to make it from there all the way to the rest in the fourth line of page 2 in one breath.  If that’s too long breath options are after the dotted eighth in measure 3, pg.2.  Breathing here will help set up the f – p contrast in that measure.
  • From the leger on the top of page 2 through the end of line 4 is one long crescendo.  Pace yourself.
  • You may consider thinking of the last three measures with fermati on the downbeats.  That helps with the allargando.

Ropartz Allegro

Suggested Recordings

Phil Smith, Tom Stevens, John Hagstrom, Reinhold Friedrich and Joshua Whitehouse all have commercial recordings of this work.