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The Way Massanet Composed

Massenet heard his music mentally, he needed no piano to assist him. It is said that he kept no piano in his country house nor in his Paris apartment. Once when the librettist of one of his operas called to have the finished piece played we are told that Massenet was sorely tempted "to try it over" on the village organ.
 
He usually memorized the text he was setting to music, and this enabled him to have it with him whenever and wherever he chose to work upon it.
 
As he traveled about a great deal in order to see the mountings of his operas, he always carried his score with him, and, like Verdi, he seldom appeared without the inevitable and inseparable valise.
 
When "reading" a new opera to the company who was to give it, Massenet sang it through to his own accompaniment with great gusto, but not much voice. Though it was possible for him to work at any time and in any place, he liked best to be in an atmosphere suited to his work.
 
When composing Thaïs he kept upon his writing table a little image of Thaïs presented to him by the sculptor Gerome. The greater part of Manon was written in a chamber at The Hague (capital of Holland). That he might have a perfect environment for the creation of Werther his publisher fitted and furnished a room for him at Versailles in the fashion of the eighteenth century.
 
When writing the scene in the autumn wood with which Thérèse begins, Massenet went day after day to the outskirts of Brussels to the woods, and here on the cold October days he elaborated the scene.
 
Massenet had his whims and fancies, but when most exacting he never forgot to show his gratitude to those concerned in the production of his work. He always remained the kind and courteous gentleman, with encouragement and a well-turned compliment for all.—J- S. Watson.

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