Piano works by Robert Caby

This page describes the world premiere recording of piano works by the French composer Robert Caby (1905-1992), performed by the pianist Olof Höjer. Some minor changes have been made to this page since its first publication in 2001. The original webpage can be viewed at archive.is.

Besides composing, Caby was engaged in arranging concerts, writing art critics, creating surrealistic drawings and dealing with rare books and paintings. He had a wide circle of friends who were important musicians and artists of the time including Erik Satie, Darius Milhaud, Pablo Picasso and Francis Poulenc. More information about Caby can be found at Wikipedia and on the official website.


- By Niclas Fogwall -

Back in 1998, when I was researching the connection between Erik Satie and Robert Caby, I found from several reliable sources that Caby was not only an important publisher and editor of some of Satie's posthumous works but also a composer and that none of his works had ever been available on any record except the song «Belle Belle», performed by Jacques Douai in 1959.

After receiving vast material from his son, Frédéric Caby, I realized that I suddenly had a man's works of a lifetime in my hand and that I should do something about it... I asked my friend Olof Höjer if he had any interest in performing these works. Höjer is a distinguished pianist, well-known for his exquisite recordings of Satie, Debussy and several Swedish composers. To my delight, Höjer was just as excited as I was in having at least some of this piano material recorded.

The recordings were made between May and October 2000, partly in a classroom in a comprehensive school and partly in my home. During and between the recording sessions we had many discussions about these so "new" and peculiar piano pieces which certainly will engage other listeners as well.

I doubt anyone would be more suitable performing Caby's piano works. Höjer has managed to bring out the personality behind the composer by doing a marvellous interpretation and I can affirm his joy and enthusiasm as he played many of these piano works.

To save costs and simplify matters we recorded everything as MIDI data, meaning that everything was performed on a digital piano (Yamaha Clavinova) using a piano module that made use of resonance modelling effects (GEM RealPiano Expander). This recording method was unique at the time and can be compared with the old piano rolls of Duo-Art and Ampico. Just like the piano rolls, MIDI data can be rendered by different (MIDI compatible) instruments, thus achieving different sound characteristics.

I finally wish to express my special gratitude to all the kind people who gave us a helping hand in this project.

Niclas Fogwall



- By Olof Höjer -

Hardly anyone who has interest in the life and works of Erik Satie, especially his last years of the 1920's or the piano pieces which were posthumously published at the end of the 1960's, has not come across the name Robert Caby. What most of them don't know about the young Frenchman, who was a true unselfish support and a true devoted friend to Satie during his last year of his life and who gradually became absorbed in and published chosen parts of his posthumous works, is that he himself was a both highly interesting and productive composer of above all songs and piano music.

Even though Satie as a person and composer probably was one of Caby's greatest and most vital influences, it would be thoroughly wrong to describe or - even worse - to dismiss him as a poor Satie imitator. Certainly you often find characteristics, which you will notice without being strikingly analytic gifted, derive back to "The Master of Arcueil". You can for example point to Caby's predilection for slow tempos, small formats, the lack of bars, simple "functional" piano movements without virtuoso ornaments, once in a while poetic texts among the notes and imaginative titles. Regarding the last mentioned Caby will often surpass even his old "master".

You can likewise as easily lift style characteristics which separate Caby from Satie. Caby for example - even though he expresses himself in sparing, concentrated formats and with moderate tempos - preferred long, kaleidoscopical varying, suites. Most notable in this respect is without hesitation the late work "Cinquante petites liturgies intimes" from 1983/84, a collection of 50 small pieces with a playing time of 1-2 minutes (and a total playing time of 1 hour and 43 minutes), started with a prelude and sometimes furnished with peculiar mottos (for example "Pas de lot de consolation au fond du lac" - "…au dessus d'une imploration" - "…Ame rêveuse et nostalgique"). A general concept of this kind would be in all probability completely strange for Satie.

Also in Caby's piano production you will find 5 great sonatas. Of these for example the second sonata from 1977/78 (with the subtitle "de l'enfance et de l'amour") has a playing time of almost 45 minutes and acts rather as a suite or fantasy collection of 3 great parts (with innumerable underparts) than as a sonata in the traditional sense.

Instead of the clarified, sometimes almost ascetic purity and simplicity and the often so to say outdistanced humour and irony in Satie's piano music, you meet in Caby a swarming multiplicity, where humour and irony play a relatively subordinated part and where the individual movements often are insignificant in an outer meaning, but where the entirety becomes a kind of mosaic web of fantasia and expressiveness. Satie's fastidious piano music seems seldom to tell anything about the inmost feelings of the author - Caby behaves as a horn of plenty, filled with psychograms. Or to express matters in another way: if Satie's piano pieces associate your mind with Puvis de Chavannes or Paul Klee, Caby's piano compositions can lead your thoughts to Hieronymus Bosch or Tintoretto (one of his favourites by the way).

If the above art history comparison lacks an important and really obvious direction: it is the surrealism. Obvious in an outer meaning so far as that Caby's contacts with the surrealist circles around André Breton seem to have been both longstanding and intensive. Obvious also because he himself was an abundantly talented surrealistic poet and drawer - many of his drawings are reproduced in the facsimile editions of his works, which are published by "AARC" (Association des Amis de Robert Caby). And in at least one case the composer lets these be in accord with the music, and that is in the suite "Incroyables Sophistiquées - Musiques Erotico-Dramatiques - Avec illustrations surréalistes" from 1982/83 - 12 "pictures" of the woman in tones, drawings and words.

Whether Caby's piano music can be characterized as "surrealistic" is in fact a question at issue which one by all means leaves for future research - the problems concerning that type of agreements between different forms of art and different "-isms" is extremely difficult to manage, showing for example the presumably not yet completed discussions of whether Debussy was impressionist or symbolist. But certainly one has difficulty seeing work titles as "Paysages intérieurs" ("inner landscapes"), "Musique apophtegmique" ("notable musical statements"), "L'Orchestre intérieur" ("the inner orchestra") or "Arcana 1-2" ("arcane"= "secret" - cp. Breton!) as anything but expressions of a surrealistic tradition. In the purely musical flow one too often comes across peculiar associative glidings, abrupt interruptions, unexpected sound combinations and "illogical" harmonic proceedings not to associate the music with early surrealism's attempts to shape the subconscious mind, the free associations' flow of apparent disconnected images and conceptions. We can note that Caby during his whole life was a convinced opponent to atonalism - this way he could make use of the traditional tonality pattern as a kind of musical correspondence to the surrealistic painters' utilization of isolated motives from the reality, which was painted naturalistically but put together into a hallucinatory caricature. In a similar way Caby often keeps contact with one key, while his melodic lines and chord advances become characteristic of a free flowing associative flow - which in the end of the piece retire in the keynote or (more often) in the keynote which has been established towards the end.

Caby's piano production includes (according to available documentation from AARC) more than a hundred pieces from the years 1929-1989. The selection made for this recording begins with a piece from 1930 and ends with two small pieces from 1989. It includes in all 34 separate pieces in chronological order. This gives a certain picture of Caby's development, a picture which however is not complete in any way. Instead the selection should be seen as at the most personal and as the result of a few years of knowledge and work with the overflowing rich material. A certain consideration has also been necessary regarding the size of the CD media, which has resulted in, for example, the great sonatas and the most extensive suites and collections have not been documented. As a whole the selection focuses on Caby as a lyric delicate piano poet - which also can be seen as a result of personal taste.

Caby's earliest documented piano pieces are from 1929 (a "Nocturne" and a piece called "Paysage", a title which he would return to several times). From the years 1929-1939 dates some ten titles: two "Danses" from 1930/31, "Deux Danseries" from 1930, two pieces called "Extraits de Frise" from 1930/31, a one-movement (?) "Suite" and "Sept Pièces" from 1931, a "Marche funèbre" (with added vocal/?/voice) from 1932, further more a "Nocturne" and "Quatre esquisses d'avant-guerre" from 1933 and 1939 respectively.

As a test on Caby's piano music from these early years has been selected "Danse", a short piece in popular, countrified rhythmic style from 1930 and "Quatre esquisses d'avant-guerre", a lyric collection, which perhaps got its slightly witty title because they were written on August 18-20, 1939 - thus barely a couple of weeks before the outbreak of World War II. It begins with a melancholic "Lied ohne Worte" ("Absence"), followed by two provincial idylls ("Villageoise" and "Ruisseau") and ends with a short epilogue ("Pensée grave"), a ponderous and sad meditation, where harsh dissonances between empty octaves in forte tone plays an important part. Here the music seems forebode a dark and hard time, while the earlier pieces tell about melancholy and the longing for country amusements and nature.

During the 1940s, there were a number of preludes and nocturnes (which were partly telling about the inspiration of Chopin), furthermore "Sept interludes" (1940) based on a theme by the 6-year-old son Frédéric, a "Sonatinette" (1942), an "Invention", a "Capriccio" (1940 and 1945 respectively) and a collection with "Promenades et Paysages sentimentaux" (1949).

From the last mentioned collection has been selected three "Promenades" and two of the nocturnes. The first of these, dated 1940, is a short, chord-based movement in C major, a nocturne "on the white keys", where the constant C major tonality has a parallel in the expressive melodic lines with its constant repeating eighth notes movements. Time and barlines are missing and Caby seems to have aimed at a free, graceful melodic flow without confinement at periodicity or established form thinking.

The second nocturne (from 1945) goes even further in this respect: the piece develops completely associatively, no themes are repeated, the melodic lines seem to flow from each other (like some kind of melodic "inner monologue"), but join each other in what can appear as a constant 6/8 (time and barlines are missing here too). The nocturne begins in E minor, passes a series of keys (A flat minor, E flat major, A flat major, C sharp major etc) to finally "sink down" in E flat minor. It also has a subtitle: "Tendresse inquiète" and shall be played "Avec beaucoup de souplesse dans le rythme et de nuances dans l'expression" (the notes overflows with instructions on above all tempo alterations, dynamics and accentuations). Everything is compressed into a playing time of approximately 2½ minute - the character of lyric psychodrama is remarkable.

In three "Promenades" (from "Promenades et Paysages sentimentaux", dated January 1, 1949) Caby goes a few steps further on the way to a free flowing, lyric surrealistic piano poetry. Times are missing, on the other hand the first and the third piece have barlines - which here obviously only function as an orientation of phrasing and form. No doubt it is also hard for both the interpreter and the listener to orient to this peculiar amorphous flow of apparent planless "strolling" melodic loops which stop their movements over and over again (and where eighth notes and quarter notes play the leading part). It almost seems that Caby both wanted to emphasize and to help this, as he (inspired by Satie?) sprinkled in text among the notes, a text which seems to be telling about both inner and outer experiences "along the way".

For example, in the beginning of the first movement it reads: "A l'horizon, une futaie et un clocher - Promenonsnous - Le ciel est bleu - Dans nos corps le sang chante sa tranquille chanson - changeons de coté - Repromenonsnous, dignement - Le ciel est devenu orange - mais ma mémoire est pleine d'enfants bleus - le coeur s'embrume - avec raison -" (…)

As far as I know, these pieces are the only examples indicating that Caby - as the much earlier Satie - had written texts among the notes. It doesn't matter if his is a conscious imitation or not, the text here works approximately the same way as for Satie, i.e. as a combination of poetic parallels and veiled performing instructions.

A clearly apparent development in Caby's piano composing is that the imaginative, poetic and at times surrealistic work titles become more numerous, a development that culminates during his last active decade, the 1980's, when about 25 works of different kinds appeared, all with titles of this kind, apart from two sonatas.

From the 1950's dates a piano suite of three movements, two collections with the imaginative titles "Kaleidophone" and "Ambages" and one with "Cinq Petits Préludes" and a few small pieces.

The title "Kaleidophone" can at first lead to thoughts that Caby had thought of a kind of ringing correspondence to the gaily coloured, changing pattern that can be created in a kaleidoscope. Caby actually gave a kaleidoscope to his children for Christmas and discovered the beauty of the world offered by that small apparatus. A look in a work of reference (of older date) reveals however that a "kaleidophone" actually was a constructed apparatus, by the physicist Wheatstone in 1827, "that visualizes the movement of neglected bodies in a sounding state" and which consists of metal staffs that when being put in vibration create different light patterns. Whether Caby's title alludes on this or is a pure creation of imagination is probably not possible to determine. Perhaps this does not make any difference either. More important is certainly those associations and fantasy pictures which a mysterious title of this kind creates for the interpreter and listener.

"Kaleidophone" (composed in 1951) contains seven lyric miniatures. The first four of these ("Ciels" - "Vitrail de lune" - "Ciels/Nocturne" - "Rêverie sous bois") seem like more and more developing and longer variations on a fundamental theme, and are about skies, moonlight, night mood and forest tranquillity. After these sometimes almost stationary, meditative moods follow a short intermezzo - "Petit intermède en forme de cor" - which with stylistic horn sounds sweep away the dream moods. It leads us to two more important active ending pieces, two march like movements with the peculiar titles "Sympathie allante" and "Marche morale", which both appear as variations of the theme "activity" and "go-ahead spirit" - in contrast to the introvert dreamings of the first movements.

In "Cinq Petits Préludes" from 1957 Caby obviously leans more to the tradition of Chopin than to Debussy. These five compressed and expressive small pieces have much in common with the concentration and specific nature in the preludes of Chopin. But you will not find any poor imitations or pale lingering notes - here satire with lyrics and melancholy drama get on well together, here the ear is tormented by illtempered ostinatos and harsh dissonances suddenly succeeded by a lyric rêverie. Perhaps one should also speak of a kind of surrealistic "chopinism"?

In the first prelude the source material is empty fifths with both hands, first in the form of sequenced "mechanic" repetitions, which end in imaginative recitative variations and then finally reaching the form of thoughtful, lyric reflections. Also in the second prelude empty fifths play an important part, here as a contrast to introverted, lyric melody loops and sudden, dramatic chords. In the third - with the designation "Un peu caustique" - there are hot and illtempered octaves with the right hand against melodic motifs with the left hand, which indicate a basic mood of satiric "ungainliness" ("un peu gauche"), emphasized by "arythmic" accents and unexpected lyric turns.

The fourth prelude is a striking contrast - a simple song wandering through the key of b minor - while one in the fifth meets a heavy, chordish full range and pathetic sentimentality, which there hardly is any correspondence to in Caby's piano composing. Here one almost gets an impression that he unexpectedly let himself get inspired by Rachmaninov! The third and last work from the 1950 's - "Carillon nuptial" is an occurrence work, a simple and melodic exciting wedding march, according to a note in the manuscript "composé pour la mariage de Blaise Foresnies à Larchant" and dated April 8, 1958.

The 1960's became for Caby a comparatively sparse decade when it came to piano composing. From 1960 dates an approximately 20 minute long "Suite no. 2" in two movements, where the first consists of a long row of fragments with nearly 20 metronomized tempo changes while the second has a more continuous flow. First in 1966 appeared the next piano work, a small dance composition called "Ballet-minute" and the year after that two pieces with titles perhaps inspired by the lyrics of André Breton: "Arcana no. 1" (with the subtitle "Apolinae Reginae") and "Arcana no. 2" ("arcane" = secret). From the same year, 1967, originated also a seven movement long suite called "Offrande funéraire pour l'Ange désincarné", composed as offering on occasion of the death of his wife Simone (and with movement titles as "Souvenirs", "Fleurettes", "Stèles", "Rages, rêves et douleurs su-delà du sensible", "Fatum" and "Elégie"). In 1969, finally, came a four movement suite titled "Musiques du Coeur".

"Ballet-minute pour une danseuse" can easily be described as a small dance suite, where a short introduction is followed by a row of episodes of varying length and with sometimes sudden contrasts in tempo and dynamics. The music is very characteristic and illustrative and one has no difficulty in imagining the dancer's different poses. The term "minut-balett" is perhaps not completely correct - the playing time is according to Caby's own notation about three minutes. It seems likely that the piece is a kind of adapted music (Caby states that some episodes can be omitted if necessary). Perhaps it is a small commission - dedicated to a certain "Mademoiselle Huguette Lamba".

In "Musiques du Coeur" from 1969 (which in AARC's edition is labeled as a suite) Caby has collected four character pieces which in different ways seem to give expression to pronounced emotional moods. In the first, "Plein coeur", one is being thrown from the quiet thoughtful and peculiar abstract melodic loops of the opening to a march part ("Rude et animé") with hardwon resolute accents, which suddenly is succeeded by, so to say, searching lyric fantasies, after which the music finally seems to find peace in the key C major, in meditative, poetic melody lines - but where one also seems to hear a heart's slow pounding in the accompanying fifth basses.

In the second movement - "Dol" - sorrow and pain are described. The introductory, heavy pathetic chords gradually give place to lyric melodic turns which leads to dramatic outbursts of despair. Then the music sinks together and completes with a short quotation of the chords of the opening, now in faint tone, as if in an exhaustion. The third movement lacks a title but through the whole piece one seems to hear a heart which beats anxiously - in 5/8! - a beating which constantly ends in lyric fantasies where the time changes to a more peaceful regular 6/8. Finally "the anxious heart" finds peace in some ending bars in A major, a key which all the time has been there in the background.

The suite ends with a small simple characteristic piece called "Tendresse", where the introductory, song-like melodic turns move in F major (without ever touching the keynote) which unexpectedly begin moving towards D major and through a small dramatic intensification finally land in G major. At the same time the song melody becomes more and more movable and in the end dissolves in improvising arabesques. One can note that Caby perhaps wanted to emphasize the melodic freedom and lyric wealth of imagination of the piece by not using barlines or time (in the first movement he used at first no barlines to later in some extent "bind" the music through underlined barlines and 4/4, while movements no. 2 and 3 are noted completely conventional with both time and barlines).

The 1970's and 1980's became Caby's most productive time as a piano composer - about 40 pieces (including five sonatas!) appeared during these decades. Without doubt one gets an impression that the piano became a central means of expression to him during these final years, when he had reached what one conventionally can think of as the "retirement age".

After the above-described suite from 1969 it was first in 1975 that he again began composing for the piano. That year appeared "Marche lente variable" and a collection with "Douze petites études barbares". In the year after that, 1976, there appeared only one small lyric piece, "Les soupirs triomphants" - a kind of title which now became more common. In 1977 Caby composed his first piano sonata plus a collection of small pieces which he called "Babioles" and "Trois pensées nocturnes". The second sonata already came the year after that, 1978, plus a very large and "surrealistic" constructed collection, "Paysages intérieurs", containing 25 pieces divided in six series with titles like "Trois châteaux de verre", "A brûlepourpoint", "Ephémerides", "Paroles et sans paroles", "Fleurettes sentimentales" and "La vie intérieure". In 1979, finally, the third sonata was composed and "Le Sapin de Noël - Evocation sommaire de temps heureux" (dated Christmas day 1979), further "Deux Valses lentes" and a small melancholic lyrical piece called "La fleur solitaire et mélancolique".

In "Marche lente variable" Caby uses a simpler backward looking style. The piece opens by a song like march theme in C major with both time and barlines and based on conventional 8-bar periods. Then follow three "variations", or perhaps rather free fantasies over accents of the theme, all in 6/8 (after the theme's 2/4) and free modulating. In a fifth and final part Caby "improvises" back to the original theme and everything ends with punctured march rhythms in C major.

"Simple but very expressive, sensitive, nostalgic" - is how Caby suggests that "La fleur solitaire et mélancolique" should be played, one of the first of a row of small melancholic piano poems with characteristics of a kind of musical diary from Caby's last creating period, kept in a kind of improvising, free associating, "psychodrama similar" style.

This last period (which based on our current knowledge can be said on principle to include the 1980's) is without doubt the most comprehensive and peculiar in Caby's production with a veritable throng of small pieces and large collections. Here one finds the sonatas no. 4 and 5 (plus a movement of an abandoned sonata no. 6), surrealistic collections as "Incroyables Sophistiquées" (where both tone, text and images cooperate), "Huit petites etudes" and "Sept poèmes musicaux sans paroles".

During the months October 1983 to January 1984 the peculiar cycle "Cinquante petites liturgies intimes" was composed. In 1984 also came "Quatre Pièces de Musique Climatique" (with the subtitles "Tendresse musclée", "De l'usage modéré des avantages personnels", "La désir de la Tranquillité" and "Rêverie sur la Musique blessé, dénaturée, violée, assassinée, par beaucoup de cuistres contemporains" - the last particular "cabyesque" regarding his expressed dislike of the musical avant-gardism). In the year after, 1985, obviously only one piece where composed, the above mentioned sonata movement to the planned sixth sonata, and in 1986 ten pieces called "Cahier de Pleurs Rentrés" and "Musique apophtegmique", 12 miniatures with the subtitle "Musique illustrant des phrases-poèmes de Xavier Forneret, 1809-1886)". In 1988 were added a collection of ten pieces called "L'Orchestre intérieur" and in 1989 two miniatures with the title "Sons affranchis". The selection which was made from all of this does not reflect - that cuts both ways - this affluence of small and large formats. Instead it describes, in a Caby manner, a way towards the last loneliness - meditative, introvert music by an old man with a long, rich and productive life behind him. "Awaiting the dreams" - "A simple homage to those who no more are" - "Liberating sounds" (translated titles). "…en attendant les Songes" is dated October 29, 1982 - "in the evening" - and is a melodic very expressive but comparatively conventional based "Lied ohne Worte" (a bit surprising it is really kept in a kind of modified rondo form).

Who Caby thought of in "Très simple Offrande à ceux qui ne sont plus" one will never know. But when playing or listening one cannot help thinking of the man who once came to mean that much for him, both artistic and humanly: Erik Satie. The music sounds at first as something up to now unknown from Satie's so called Rosicrucian period of the 1890's - can it be inspired by some sketch that Caby had found among Satie's about 60 years after their first meeting, to the one who once inspired him to become a composer? Is the circle closed thereby this little piece? Caby's playing instruction is very satie'esk: "Très modérément (et sans pleurs)".

"Sons affranchis", two short pieces dated January 15 and 18 respectively, 1989, is as far as is known Caby's last (in AARC) published piano work. "Liberating sounds" he called these two peculiar expressive aphorisms where the fragmentary idea follows the other in an inner logic - a summary in miniature of Caby's psychodramatic and perhaps surrealistic inspired way of composing for the piano.

Olof Höjer



- By Robert Orledge -

I only knew Robert Caby at the very end of his life (after 1988), but when I visited him in Paris in the rue Rodier he would invariably perform his latest piano pieces (or songs) to me as best he could, right to the end. What amazed me was how passionate his performances always were and how passionately and vividly the works were conceived. There were never any half measures with Robert and his music was as forthright as his speech. He could no longer play his music in tempo, unfortunately, and would sometimes repeat passages he particularly liked as he went along.

But his range of dynamics was always extremely wide and he would still sing his own songs with fervour. I would follow the music over his shoulder (at the piano) and imagine how the pieces would sound if his ageing hands would have permitted him to play them as they were written. He never asked me to play them, or to sight read them: performance was something he felt he had to do himself. We never discussed his surrealistic drawings, so I cannot tell you if there was any link between them and any particular piano pieces.

As well as a strong dramatic element in Caby's music, there was also a strong feeling for texture, rhythm and the unexpected. He remained I think, very much a melodic composer - that is, much of his music (and certainly his songs) began as a complete melody line, before any harmony was added (as it did with Berlioz, or with Caby's friend Charles Koechlin). And despite the dissonance of some of his music, there was always a strong tonal element behind his harmonies.

Counterpoint was of lesser interest to him, I think. If there was one prevailing influence on his music, it was the example, or rather the spirit of Erik Satie.

I think that Olof 's sensitive interpretations are the best present that Robert's music could have. They were the sort of interpretations that I think existed in Robert's mind as he struggled to play his pieces to me in 1988-91 with his gnarled, arthritic hands. Certainly the passion is there; the sudden frenzied attacks which offset the delicate lyricism, and the sudden tangential departures. But the huge pauses, the lack of any rhythmic backbone, the stops and restarts which spoiled the magic of the music are all removed in Olof 's fine performances, and you can at last see what the composer surely intended when he conceived these pieces.

I found rather more Koechlin than I expected - especially in the "Trois promenades sentimentaux" (and No. 8 must be influenced by Koechlin's "Les heures persanes" (Op. 65), I think, as it has a very similar undulating motif indeed). But there was rather less Satie than I expected (except perhaps in the Rosicrucian "Marche" - no. 29), though his advice of "faire court" and his mosaic constructions without any development are there as underlying principles, of course. There was virtually nothing of "Les Six" here, except an occasional reminiscence of Milhaud (eg. Track 4), and Caby's originality of vision came across to me more strongly than it ever had before from this CD, as well as his unpredictability. The pieces were selected (and recorded) extremely well, thanks to you, and I think they reflected the whole range of Caby's pianistic achievement. Unfortunately, Robert was never a virtuoso pianist himself, and the CD raises the whole question of what happens when an amateur pianist writes professional piano pieces conditioned largely by what his fingers discover as he sits at the piano with a particular subject in mind! That is, not every piece will be a success, or achieve its full potential, and the output as a whole is bound to be uneven.

Here, the gems for me were the stark and dramatic Track 5; the modal flexibility of the Koechlinesque No. 8; the subtle unity and resonance experiments in "Kaleidophone" as a suite; the diversity of No. 24; the mysterious, creeping, sinuous No. 25 (Caby at his very best); and the extreme beauty and sensitivity of No. 30 (La fleur solitaire). If only Caby had been more interested in counterpoint, and the linear approach that strengthens Satie's music so much after the Schola Cantorum period, I think he would be much better known today. But Koechlin's reputation today has been largely established by post-1967 recordings, and especially the CDs of the 1990s, and there is no reason why Caby's reputation cannot be enhanced in a similar way.

Robert Orledge



- By Frédéric Caby -

Robert Caby was born on March 25, 1905 in Venette, Oise district, a few kilometers from Compiègne. His father, Auguste Caby, was an accountant. His mother Blanche Forterr (born in 1870) was a teacher at the public school in the neighbouring village of Longueil-Annel; his daughter Marguerite was the principal (1). Robert had a sister, Suzanne, born in 1906. My father has told me how much he enjoyed filling in for his mother in class to help teach reading to the youngest pupils.

Robert Caby as a child

But his mother abandoned teaching for unknown reasons, and the couple soon came to own a large café on the Town Hall Square in Compiègne, and Robert went to the high school in this town - where he also took his first piano lessons (2). He would always feel a great attachment to Oise, where he often came back to visit and keep in touch with relatives who had settled there, and which he often crisscrossed by bicycle along with neighbouring counties. But the struggles of the Great War soon approached, and the family took refuge in Saint-Nazaire, then in Lorient, where Robert continued his schooling. When the family returned to Compiègne in 1919, they found the café destroyed by a "blasting bomb" along with most of the town square. Thanks to war damages, the family was able to purchase a cottage in a suburb of Paris (Champigny-sur-Marne). Robert, who would eventually lose his father in 1930 and his mother in 1947, lived there until 1967.

Robert pursued his studies at the Lycée Louis Le Grand, then at the Lycée Saint-Louis. At the end of his senior year he failed the Science section of his baccalauréat but did pass in Letters (after a tenacious spell of work over vacation to master the Greek language), then finally in Phi-losophy in 1923. He read voluminously all the while. After a year of prep work for the École Normale, working alongside Sarte and Nizan (3), he was turned down for the École Normale itself. At the end of 1924 he took up with Erik Satie (4), whom he often met at the Dôme, and whose confidant he would remain until Satie's death. The lifelong admiration he expressed for Satie would become the basis of innumerable articles, speeches, concerts, and editions of un-published works to shed ever more light on the work and personality of the composer.

Robert Caby as a young man

He lived with his parents in Champigny at the time, but also rented a room at 22 rue Lepic (5). He published critical essays, drawings (sketches of Satie), poems, interviews (of Delteil and Ivan Goll) in reviews such as Montparnasse (of Géo-Charles) and in collections like "Some Poems" and "They Who Come" (by Guy Levis-Mano and Gaston Poulain, respectively). In October 1926, he left for his military service in Algeria (6). Throughout his service, he wrote both prose and poetry and kept up an almost daily correspondence with his family, and even formed a jazz combo in which he played piano. Back home, he took over the musical environment at "Studio 28" and created numerous drawings in a highly original Surrealist style (7).

He befriended Darius Milhaud around this time, along with André Breton, Paul Éluard, Francis Picabia, Jacques Prévert, Igor Markevitch, Roger Désormière, Brancusî, and Picasso. He wrote music and art critiques in newspapers like L'Humanité (8) (from 1928 to 1932), Le Petit Parisien and Monde. There he met Simone Dumas, caricaturist and collaborator with Barbusse and Monde, and they were married in December 1930. The newlyweds lived first at 62 rue Brillat-Savarin, then at 89 avenue Félix Faure, then in Gagny, at the home of Simone's recently widowed mother.

Caught up in his enthusiasm for political action (9), Robert was one of the organizers of the monthly concert series "Semaille" in the Bellevilloise Hall in 1929. There he introduced a whole crowd of workers to the music not only of the Great Masters (from Soler all the way to Chabrier), but also that of his contemporaries - Satie (including Socrate), Milhaud and the Group les Six, Debussy, Ravel, Albeniz, and de Falla. He recruited first-class artists such as Marya Freund, Jane Bathori, Suzanne Peignot, and the Vienna Quartet, not to mention his own performances at the piano with other composers like Jean Wiener, Henri Sauguet, Germaine Tailleferre, or Maurice Jaubert. To add some variety to his programs, he incorporated "phonographic music", exotic music, jazz, and talks on musical analysis into his concerts.

Robert Caby had already begun to compose; we can gain an idea of his work at this time by examining the first part of his catalogue (10). At the same time, he was either creating or harmonizing revolutionary songs (11) for the Paris Jewish Chorale, or simply with a choir drawn from the ranks of the unemployed. On Darius Milhaud's advice, he took three months of coursework in harmony at the Schola Cantorum (12) - like Satie had done years before. Corti published a collection of his texts and poems, "Prose d'Algérie", illustrated with several of his drawings. He kept up his friendships with personalities like Breton, Prévert, Brancusî, Markevitch and others. He belonged to the Revolutionary Writers' and Artists' Association (AEAR) and joined the Groupe Octobre formed by Prévert; as a delegate from this group's musical section, he travelled to the USSR in 1933 for the Olympiad of the IVth Internationale. In 1935, he was a delegate to the Federal Congress of the SFIO. Later that year he corresponded with Trotsky, who lived with Caby for a time on his way to exile. He was also active in theatre. To make ends meet, he sold advertisement areas, and later worked in sales for the deluxe-books department of the Editions Littéraires de France. He was elected to Champigny City Council but resigned in June 1937; the following year, he gave up political activity altogether (13).

Robert Caby composing

Caby had two children: Frédéric, born in 1934, and Renaud, born in 1937. The family lived in Champigny, at 34 bis rue des Sapins - a street soon to become, by happy coincidence, the rue Henri Barbusse - and then at his mother's house (14). These years produced many of his most beautiful songs on poems by Goethe, Heine, and Apollinaire, which were sung by Jane Bathori, Suzanne Dispan de Flor-ent, Maud Laury, and then by Magda Fonay, Anne Laloë and Jean Planel over the course of several concerts.

But war soon broke out again, and Robert was mobilized (15) while the family vacationed in Nice (16); he would take refuge there once demobilized. For four years Robert and Simone lived in fear of denunciation for his political ac-tivism in the past, but in 1944 they found a safer retreat in the High Alps, which they would not leave until autumn 1945 (17).

Robert Caby with his wife Simone

In Nice, Robert wrote quite a bit of music, mostly on poems by German authors (Goethe, Schiller, Uhland) (18), and on poems he wrote himself during his mobilization. He also wrote for a chorus of the Compagnons de France (19), and these very beautiful songs for children's choir were published by Delrieu of Nice. He caught up with André Gide and proposed a setting of "Les Nourritures Terrestres", but the rights had already been signed away; this would happen later with Le Roi Candaule as well. Several concerts took place in the homes of friends like Tosca Marmor and Victoria Givre-Rogan. Even in Paris, Olga Luchaire (Anne Laloë) continued to sing Caby's works in private concerts at the home of Germaine and Léopold Sauvage (the painter).

Back to Paris, Caby published a number of his favourite songs on Apollinaire and Prévert, with the firms Deiss and Enoch. He wrote musical, literary and film critiques for the Dépêches Parisiennes (20). He also set several cycles of poems by his friends Éluard and Prévert, and in an amazing fit of exuberance was able to bring something new to his wife, his children, and his friends every week. More concerts followed, and Pierre d'Arquennes welcomed his work several times at the "Action Musicale Française" or at the "Tryptique".

In spite of these successes, Caby had his share of wartime setbacks as well: the singer Kiki de Montparnasse recorded two songs for Polydor, but the record was never released after the German invasion. Marianne Oswald (21) added several songs to her repertoire, but her voice was no longer up to the task of singing them in public. The publisher Deiss, with whom he had signed a contract, died in deportation. Finally, in 1946, Caby scored a short film called "La Cité Engloutie", about the rediscovery of the temples at Angkor-Vat; unfortunately, the film soon ran out of funding! He began in 1947 an opera on a text by Goethe (Jerry et Baetly, which still exists in piano score), but he later abandoned it - his preoccupations had changed.

1950 saw the birth of the Groupe Mélos, which brought Robert Caby, Marcel Despard and Anne Terrier-Lafaille together under a manifesto built on such slogans as "Enough intellectual esthetics, enough scholarly pedantism, down with modern music, down with music for technique's sake, long live music for the people" - not to mention Satie's motto: "Our music is guaranteed playable". A concert was organized to put these ideas into action by relying on composers the group considered their kindred spirits: Chabrier, Satie, Koechlin, Poulenc, Sauguet - the latter two lending their personal support to the concert, beyond which the group itself would not survive.

From 1950 to 1965, several broadcasts carried Caby's music to a wider audience, especially the "Song Expositions", a series of broadcasts by Jane Bathori. In 1955 Robert Caby won an international competition organized by Radio Geneva, aimed at creating a "chamber opera"; this would be Rose et Ludovic, on a libretto by Marcelle Meyer-Bertin. Premiered under the direction of Pierre-Michel Leconte, it would later be broadcasted several times. In 1957, a long program hosted by Georges Charbonnier and Alain Trutat and dedicated to Alfred Jarry brought Caby's minute-opera L'Objet Aimé to light, along with several of his songs on poems by Jarry. This minute-opera appeared later on the radio by itself. Caby later wrote a complete opera: Au Paradis - Le Vieux de la montagne (1962), again on a text by Jarry. In 1959, Jacques Douai performed and recorded the beautiful song "Belle Belle", on a poem by Charles Cros. According to the present accounts with the SACEM, it is still being heard today. In 1965 the ORTF commissioned him to write a piece of opera buffa: "Le Procès Pictompin", set to a burlesque by Eugène Chavette. Not least, he participated in a number of broadcasts in which he gave free rein to his extremely negative view of what consensus had called "modern music".

He kept up a busy friendship with many artists at the time: the composers Charles Koechlin, Francis Poulenc, Henri Sauguet, the painters Gabriel Fournier, Jacques Dupont, Clovis Trouille, Englebert, Duilho Barnabé, not to mention the poets Benjamin Péret, René Char, Paul Éluard, René Menard along with numerous performers like Manuel Rosenthal, Igor Markévitch, Doda Conrad, and Jacques Dutey. The deaths of his friends in succession affected him greatly.

After about 1950, his activities as a dealer applied to paintings rather than books. They led him to organize, with Jacques Mathey, a "Study Society for the Knowledge of Edouard Manet", which functioned well and expanded for several years before being condemned for its insults and calumnies toward art experts, and which ultimately disbanded after failing in its goal: to prove the authenticity of a disputed portion of Manet's work. Caby lost a good deal of time and money in the affair, not to mention his enthusiasm.

Caby's work was rarely heard after 1965, for many reasons. Not least was his tendency to give pride of place to his works of the moment, and he was so prolific as to preclude a loyal listening audience - in my opinion, anyway.

Robert Caby with his son Frédéric

Next, after 1964 he brought a considerable amount of research to bear on the Erik Satie collection in the Bibliothèque Nationale, which led to the restoration of many of Satie's unpublished pieces. He also orchestrated several works by Satie, with mixed results. As an incontestable authority, he exercised strict control over the scholarship, commentaries, and other various uses to which Satie has since been put. These labors, which motivated him for so long, were crowned by the discovery of some very beautiful pieces, by records, concerts and performances of all kinds which brought Satie back to life in the public mind, and considerably enriched the catalogue of publishers Salabert. But all of this time and energy devoted to Satie's work came at the expense of not promoting his own. Worse, he always believed that an argument with Auric around 1964 had deprived him of all important commissions. He lost his wife in 1967, which unmoored him for a long time, given that he wouldn't return to Paris until 1972 (at 39 rue Rodier). Finally, his intolerant artistic stance closed the media to him bit by bit; he would not regain access until much later, because of his age and his relationship with Satie.

He grew old, but he continued to write, often in a somber tone: five piano sonatas, several suites, a great number of sad and lonely pieces - song cycles on various texts: Charles Cros, Joë Bousquet, Kafka, Desbordes-Valmore, Panaït Istrati, Balzac. He held no interest for publishers (the "Triptyque" and the UFPC (22) opened their doors to him, but his choices are debatable), and he no longer had to energy to promote his poems, prose works, or drawings - such as the illustrations for his piano suite: Les Incroyables Sophistiquées (1982). The day he died, in the hospital and fighting for survival, he was still composing.

An old Robert Caby, still going strong

Before being physically weakened by age, he was an avid walker and cyclist, kayaking and making long excursions into the mountains on vacation. No part of France was off-limits to his sales activity, which earned him any number of friendships with his clients, which included Colonel Sicklès, Pierre Lévy and others. He slept little, often rising in the middle of the night to finish and clarify, in his handwriting full of elegant confidence, what he had composed the evening before from notes scribbled out on the bus - or even to try out orchestrations in the nighttime silence which he furtively disturbed with his experimental chords. When his music was complete, he allowed himself an hour of leisure, and with an incredibly steady hand and an arresting expressivity he conjured up an entire Surrealist world of strange creatures right before our eyes. Sundays he played music with his wife - Schubert divertimenti or four-hand reductions of Beethoven symphonies, violin-piano sonatas, or even the chance to discover the songs of Mussorgsky or Khovanshchina. On vacation with relatives, he created some magnificent little choruses on poems by Nerval which we sang for our hosts, and which still bear witness to the calm to which he never stopped aspiring.

Among artists he particularly admired were Beethoven, Schubert, Berlioz, Chabrier, Mussorgsky, Wagner (as a young man, then again in his old age), Satie, Debussy, Stravinsky, Kurt Weill; Scherchen, the Busch Quartet (later on the Via Nova Quartet), Yves Nat, Sviatoslav Richter, Jean-Joël Barbier; Balzac, Charles Cros, Germain Nouveau, Mallarmé, Jarry, Apollinaire, Kafka, Gide, Éluard, Prévert; Goethe, von Kleist, Uhland; Raphael, Tintoretto, Delacroix, Goya, Ingres, Manet, Brancusî, Picasso and, of course, Trotsky. Messiaen was altogether beyond the pale. Caby didn't understand him; he didn't appreciate his researches into pure sound or the renewal he brought about, and his mysticism was a totally foreign thing (even as Caby could accept Poulenc's).

He also had his pet peeves: a whole movement of French music in the forties and fifties, which he considered inconsistent or needlessly complicated, plagiarisms - particularly of Satie - and serial/dodecaphonic music most of all. Don't even mention Proust! And Stalin, and bureaucracy in general. Critical and judgmental as he was, he never lost his curiosity; he would much rather listen to the radio the novelties than to any "canned music". Along with his family, he was profoundly atheist to his dying day, and religious subjects never entered into his conversation. At his wife's funeral, he told us in public, "Her eternal life is the memory of her that will always be with us".

More of a Manichean, he had an abiding faith in the human ability to understand and to organize. He loved the circus, the zoo, masquerades, children, buffoonery of all kinds, films and Charlie Chaplin (from first to last), Buñuel, the songs of Damia and Yvonne George, naïve art. He led poetry and theatrical readings with a great deal of talent, he liked to make commentaries on rare books and paintings, which he let us admire before selling them. He was very attentive to scientific developments; the constant renewal of ideas and objects all around never ceased to amaze him. He liked a beer at the bistro now and then, billiards with his family, good meals, parties. Easily befriending those he admired, he could sometimes throw politeness and caution over in favour of his darker judgments of people, which were always swift and final. He never hesitated to take on the role of spokesman in defense of his ideas, or even to go on the offensive. But he was sometimes too sure of convictions and often refused to see his mistakes. On stage his speaking style was quite clear, most often without notes; his writing style was precise, but sometimes heavy. Even in his old age and up until his death, he seemed intellectually indefatigable.

Even though his mother was a violinist and his father had a remarkable talent for drawing, Robert as creator and patron of art was unique, both in his own family and that of his inlaws; he was considered as a dreamer, inept in business (which is more or less true), but he never took offense - he had put his own interior house in order as well as his personal relationships, and he was in concert with his wife, who was a musician, artist, and sometime writer, who believed enough in her husband's creative force to abandon her own and dedicate herself to him. His closest friends since youth included Yves Dautun (23), Max Fontaine, Pierre de Massot, Madeleine Milhaud, Germaine Sauvage, Gérard Magistry and Henri Sauguet - people who had all known Satie at one time or another. He was also very close to Henri Weitzmann (24). Later on, he was quite friendly with Jean-Pierre Amiet, Theirry Bodin, Robert Orledge (25), Guy Prévan (26) and Jean Roy, certain of whom noted conversations they had had with him. But his most private confidences would remain on paper - and above all in his music. The catalogue of Robert Caby's works contains almost 900 pieces in roughly a hundred groups. Songs are in the majority; I have counted more than 100 on Apollinaire, 40 on Éluard, 25 on Prévert, 32 on Ronsard, 32 on Robert Caby - but also 62 on Goethe, 26 on Heine, 20 on Omar Khayyam, and a certain number of Uhland, Garcia Lorca, Koutchake, Blake, and others; there are also more than 100 pieces for piano. In addition to his instrumental pieces, he has orchestrated many of his vocal works.



1 This school exists today; it still carries the name "Groupe Scolaire Marguerite Forterr".

2 From an unknown teacher whose name he could not remember. Caby was far from a virtuoso, but he could sight-read easily, and his technique was good enough in his younger years to play in a jazz combo, provide the music for silent movies, and to accompany his songs on stage.

3 He never came to know them. Later on he made the acquaintance of Nizan, whose philosophy and theater he admired - even though he always disdained Sartre.

4 He was introduced by the Milhauds, to whom he had in turn been introduced by his friend Max Fontaine - another friend of Satie, Joël Le Tac, who would later be consul in Afghanistan.

5 It seems this room was set aside for Robert by Jeanne Hencher-Clément, president of the French section of "Pro Musica", an association based in New York, which counted Bartók, Berg, even Webern among its members. This association lent its support to Robert for his "Concerts de la Semaille", Yves Dautun, a Robert's friend, shared this room for a while during his divorce.

6 In Blida, with the rifleinfantry, after having been sanctioned for his refusal to enroll in officers' school.

7 After his death, these drawings were displayed in exhibits at the Galerie Coligny in Paris.

8 Music and art critiques, almost weekly between 1928 and 1930.

9 Robert Caby had two nicknames as a political activist: Bounine and Biline (after a brand of detergent called Kabyline).

10 Catalogue established in 1997 by Frédéric Caby, who has brought out a manuscript edition of his complete works and deposited it at the Bibliothèque Nationale.

11 Such as the "Call of the Comintern" by Hans Eisler, the "Song of the FTOF", "The New Guard", a "Funeral March" on a text by Parijanine, and the "Song of the Unemployed".

12 I don't know under which professor, but I believe it was Koechlin, with whom he kept up friendly ties until his death.

13 For Caby, the worldwide revolution was the only worthwhile cause. Stalin made this impossible; his ignominy reached its peak, in Caby's opinion, with the Nazi-Soviet pact. The evolution of the Popular Front taught him that the bourgeois would stop at nothing; the class struggle therefore became futile for him, and he had to wait for history to open another battlement.

14 At 67 boulevard du Centre, later named boulevard Aristide Briand, in Champigny-sur-Marne.

15 Garrisoned in Paris, at the Gare de Lyon. His regiment was soon posted to the banks of the Loire, only to be dismantled under bombardement. He made it across the Loire with a group of other escapees, then went on bicycle to his family in Cognac where they had fled in a moment of panic.

16 At the home of Simone's sister Colette, who lived in Nice as the wife of Doctor Bellier, who practiced in the offices of the Compagnie Maritime. Colette lived with her mother, and their spacious villa often housed her whole family in the summer. The Cabys then settled one kilometer away in the Fabron foothills until April 1944.

17 On an isolated farm in La Bâtie Neuve near Gap, then in a villa called Fay in the hills overlooking Gap, on the road to Veynes. He was able to rent a piano, same as in Nice. Robert traveled all over France, not particularly caring whether he was based in Paris or the countryside; their Spartan living conditions never bothered him or his wife. They gave attention to the quality and continuity of their sons' education; they attended grade school in 1945 under the excellent tutelage of M and Mme Dusserre at the École des Sagnières. On the other hand, it was not exactly a pleasant prospect for Simone to live face-to-face with her mother-in-law; she always believed the climate of the High Alps to be much better for her children's health. Was this enough to keep the family in Gap for a year? I can only speculate.

18 I've brought up this question with my father; for him it was about exploring and illustrating the texts for which he had the most enthusiasm, more so than proving he didn't confuse Fascist barbarism with high German culture. I think he was also highly influenced by Ivan Goll, whom he had interviewed in the twenties. At several concerts played in Nice among friends who could hardly be accused of collaboration with the occupiers, these songs fit side-by-side with poems by Apollinaire, Rimbaud, and Blake.

19 Organism of the Pétainist youth. For the Cabys it was simply a chance to make music and to make friends with young people who were just as disgusted as they were with the political situation.

20 A central newspaper which provided material for several different newspapers.

21 In May 1947, during a broadcast called "Poets and Their Composers" and dedicated to Apollinaire, Marianne Oswald interpreted "La Boucle retrouvée" and "Mutation" by Caby, two songs she had recorded for radio some time before. In the same program, Anne Laloë sang "Exercice," "Cors de Chasse", "Je souhaite dans ma maison" and "Les Colchiques", accompanied by Caby and by Odette Pigault.

22 Union of Women Composers and Music Teachers.

23 Composer, student of Koechlin. He wrote for the Petit Parisien. His letters kept by Robert go only to 1927.

24 Dramaturge, father of journalist Jacques Derogy.

25 English musicologist.

26 French poet and pamphleteer.


(click on each drawing to enlarge it)

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This is the manuscript of the first track on this recording, titled Danse (1930).


Here are the reviews written back in 2001 about this recording.

Window in Time
by Marty Jourard
Rating: 10/10
Robert Caby was a friend and admirer of the French composer Erik Satie, and edited some of Satie's work for posthumous publication, including several of my favorite Satie pieces. Caby was a composer in his own right, and this intriguing recording reveals his writing as inspired and influenced by Satie but also quite individual. Because this is the first recording of Caby's work it serves as a window in time to another period in music history. The pieces are composed between 1930 and 1989 yet all of them retain a sort of mystic connection to the sonic world of Satie. My favourite piece is Kaleidophone (from 1951). Olaf Hojer plays the pieces beautifully and the recording quality is first rate. A wonderful and surprising addition to the canon of French piano music.

Robert Caby
by Todd Niquette
Rating: 10/10
Essential for anyone who ever found themselves transported by the music of Erik Satie. Caby took Satie's singular musical vision, made it his own, and never stopped evolving it in his six decades as a composer. Too often dismissed as a footnote to the Satie legend, a novelty, and a Sunday painter, Caby finally gets his due with Olof Hojer's masterful, searching interpretations. "Modern but not modernist" was Caby's credo, and this disk places him on a par with Roussel, Koechlin, Schmitt, and many others who carried the French piano tradition into and through the twentieth century.

A musical smile
by Enzo Boeri
Rating: 10/10
As Mike Heron said: “when the music starts to play, let me be around”. At the first listening of this first collection of Robert Caby piano pieces, a Satie admirer immediately realizes that he is in good company: The musical miniatures of Robert Caby not only recall the "bon maitre d’Arcueil", but continue an ideal line that runs through Rossini and the six. Music linked to an intelligent, sarcastic smile. The quality of the recording is superb and Olof Hojer is one of the best interpreters of this musical spirit.

Robert Caby
by Marcel Mamat
Quelle bonne surprise! On se souvenait de Caby comme de "1'héritier Satie" par excellence mais une plaquette (en anglais) nous rappelle le parcours magnifique de ce poète et musicien, politiquement éruptif, boutant le scandale chez les experts en peinture, etc., etc. On ne jouait plus sa musique depuis les années soixante et ce disque ballon d'essai, quasi hors commerce (techniquement excellent) nous révèle une oeuvre grave, sensible et hautaine, quelque chose entre Mompou et les essais intemporels d'un Alain Kremsky... Cela "sonne" et envoûte, cela s'impose.


This unique CD is not available in any record shop, making it an exquisite gift for any lover of classical piano music.

This is the original CD, released in 2001. The price ($25.00) includes postage (worldwide).

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Here you can listen to a preview of the recording.

The piano works as they appear in the recording:
1: Danse (1930)
2-5: Quatre esquisses d'avant-guerre (1939)
6: Nocturne (1940)
7: Nocturne tendresse inquiète (1945)
8-10: Trois promenades et paysages sentimentaux (1949)
11-17: Kaleidophone (1951)
18-22: Cinq petits préludes (1956-57)
23: Carillon nuptial (1958)
24: Ballet-minute pour une danseuse (1966)
25-28: Musiques du coeur (1969)
29: Marche lente variable (1975)
30: La fleur solitaire et mélancolique (1979)
31: ...En attendant les songes (1982)
32: Très simple offrande à ceux qui ne sont plus (1987)
33-34: Sons affranchis (1989)

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