About author : FUMET Dynam-Victor

FUMET Dynam-Victor

«Do you know Dynam-Victor FUMET ? He was an organist such as you are hardly likely to find in a hundred years... A disciple of Franck, he had inherited a gift for improvisation which bordered on genius. In my youth I heard him but once on the organ of Sainte-Anne-de-la-Maison-Blanche, of which he was the incumbent. I experienced that day once of the most overwhelming emotions of my life. Do you know what it means to be gripped? Gripped, sucked in as though by maelström, emptied of all personal substance, but in return shot through by a river of fire which ravished me with its flames. Everyone who has heard FUMET has had similar experiences to mine. His name has always been present in my memory». These are the words of the famous critic Bernard GAVOTY in ‘Musica’ in 1969.

Born in Toulouse in 1867, son of a very strict watchmaker, Dynam-Victor Fumet began his musical studies at the municipal Conservatory where his exceptional talents were very quickly recognized, and where he received all the possible prizes. At the age of 16, he entered the Paris National Conservatory, where he studied organ with César Franck and composition with Ernest Guiraud. The city of Toulouse voted him a scholarship to finish his studies in Paris, and he was sent off to the capital city accompanied by the municipal band.

At first his studies in Paris were pursued with hard work, but once finally freed from his father's stifling education, he soon began to frequent anarchist groups (Louise Michel, Prince Kropotkine, Jean Grave, Charles Malato). He continued none-the-less his musical studies at the conservatory, where his fellow students nicknamed him "Dynam", probably both because of the dynamic way he played and because of the way he lived. At 19 he entered the competition to obtain the "Prix de Rome", was congratulated by Reyer and complimented by Saint-Saens, but did not win the prize, perhaps for political reasons : a morning newspaper had denounced his anarchist tendencies. A stinging failure, and scandal in Toulouse: the city decided to cut off the libertarian's scholarship and his father refused to see him. He still continued his studies at the conservatory, and César Franck, who loved the youngest of his students and knew he was having financial difficulties, managed to have him hired as accompanist on the organ at the Sainte-Clotilde church where he was principal organist.

For a while, Fumet was the orchestra conductor at the "Chat Noir", but he soon quit and left the post to his friend, Erik Satie. It was shortly after this period that he became interested in spiritism and became a well-known medium. After a suicide attempt, from which he miraculously survived, he regained his faith in God, and under the influence of Léon Bloy regained his faith in Christianity. He became interested in the occult sciences and the Christian kabbalists, and began meeting with people like the Duchess of Pommard, Saint-Yves d'Alveydre, Stanislas de Guaita, etc. During this same period of time he met Verlaine, with whom he became close friends since they used the informal "tu" forms between them.

After a turbulent voyage to South America where he was hired as a conductor, he came back to Paris and married into a family close to the founder of the Theosophical Society, Hélène Blavatsky. Named principal organist at the Sainte-Anne-de-la-Maison-Blanche church, he began a discrete career, even though his improvisations attracted large crowds. It was there that he composed a large number of works for the Church, which he premiered on every important holiday ; unfortunately many of these works have been lost.

It is difficult to understand Fumet's music while ignoring his mysticism, even if his music holds itself up by its forms and intrinsic qualities. The difficulty comes perhaps from its refinement, which excludes the facile effects that please audiences and the general public so easily. This extraordinarily talented musician refused to use what he considered common tricks in his compositions; this did not make his music easy for the general public to understand. On top of that, possessed by his spiritual calling which gave him, until the end of his life, centers of interest other than his musical career, he soon became completely isolated from the fierce musical profession, which requires constant social interaction.

Dynam-Victor Fumet's works contain all the ambiguities and paradoxes that characterize the isolated, independent spirits whose sincerity and contempt for fashion ensure their timeless originality. They purposely go beyond classical forms. Fumet indeed, most of the time, invents his own forms. Coming from the incomparable French school to which he owes his ease in the uses of forms and continuous modulation, he possesses a unique sense of harmony, rhythm, and strong and subtle melodies which distinguish him from the major musical trends from before and after the war.

"The purpose of art", he explained in a letter to a friend, "is to humanize universal life, that is to say to make it proportional to man's deposed royalty". He added that "art became a need of love ever since man was no longer as grand as the universe he looks at. He calls the universe to himself, and it is thus that works come into being. One therefore needs eternity to understand it, needs to feel his exile in order to give painful birth to living truth."

At the end of his life, surprised by the institutions' indifference towards his music, this spiritual and refined composer explained, not without humor, that Heaven held against him the excesses that had allowed him to create his works. 


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