Maurice Journeau was born in Biarritz, a famous sea-side resort in the Basque Country, on November 17, 1898. He studied piano in childhood and began composing when a teenager. Just leaving secondary school, he was mobilized in April 1917 for the first World War ; so, his first musical attempts were momentarily interrupted. Then, he could study composition at the Ecole Normale de Musique recently founded by Auguste Mangeot. He had thus the opportunity to attend the music class of Nadia Boulanger, which took place in the now famous rue Ballu. In 1921, already, his minuet (opus 1) and his waltz (opus 2) were his first official works and MAURICE SENART, a French publisher no longer existing, began then to publish the young author's works. At the end of these musical studies, Journeau had to go back home to Biarritz. Yet his Music masters advised him to keep composing...
Just after his wedding, he settled in Nice where he lived ten years (from 1926 to 1936). There he wrote noticeable works for violin, premièred by Gil Graven, a well-known international soloist.
In 1936, he had to live in Paris, the place where he wrote most of his works. Mainly works for piano (his own, favourite instrument)and for chamber music. In the fifties, a decade characterized by some broadcasts, Journeau composed then for wind instruments and for orchestra with an attempt at writing in a new way. Yet in spite of its very personal tone, this short, dodecaphonic period was fast given up. In the seventies, growing in age, Journeau wrote some pieces of Sacred Music for organ, then his last works, quite astonishing with their young, fresh mood. In 1984, nevertheless, Journeau decided his task was over...
Only in November 1992, this nearly unknown music was dicovered by artists and then regularly played, soon published by Editions COMBRE in Paris. In 1998, Journeau could attend his centenary, which was celebrated by some musical events and the beginning of his discography. On June 9, 1999, he died in Versailles.
He leaves us a Catalogue of about 75 works, mainly for piano and chamber music, also for orchestra and organ, accessorily for voice and harpsichord. Not counting all the arrangements, transcriptions and orchestral versions of his own works that he also wrote.
How to give you an idea of this style ? Let us point out its various components...
Watching Beauty always inspires composers, particularly that of Nature. This leads Journeau to evoke aquatic landscapes, either sea-side resorts ("Nuits Basques") or shores ("Aux Rivages Méditerranéens", "Marine"), or rustic scenes with a pond ("Sur l'Etang").
If Nature is thus much more than a mere background, yet another way of entering the author's deep, inner part, is to sympathize with his evocation of human people. Tender, passionate feelings for his well-loved wife are an explanation for the delicacy of musical colouring in the 3rd Sonatina for piano. They are the key to introduce us into the intimacy of the "Berceuse", a loving song intended for a sensitive violin.
The author's fondness for children is expressed in nice easy pieces, in an either joyful or meditative tone ("Pièces Enfantines", "Ronde Enfantine", "Suite pour les Jeunes") that young people may play themselves. It is also implied in a concert series of twelve piano scenes for a public of children ("Scènes à jouer aux Enfants").
Beyond this intimate human relationship, other features are to be added to that outlined portrait. Deep thinking underlies the slow movements of his main piano and chamber music works (Sonatas, Sonatinas, String quartet, trio) and the Sacred Music pieces for organ ("Choral", "Mass", "Suite"). A strong will when facing difficulties in everydaylife was hidden under a veil of humour owing to a cheerful temper.
All this was Journeau, a rather discreet author in his lifetime. All this is the core of Journeau's music.