Gabriel Fauré studied music at the École Niedermeyer in Paris, where Saint-Saëns, another great French composer, was his teacher. Thanks to this education, he learned about lots of different kinds of music. He graduated at the age of twenty with first prizes in piano, organ harmony and composition.
For much of his lifetime, Fauré worked as an organist. He also eventually taught composition himself at the Niedermeyer and became the school’s director in 1905. Conservative professors didn’t like him because he introduced new forms of music to the students. He responded by calmly dismissing his critics one by one. As head of the school for fifteen years, he influenced many young composers, including Ravel and Debussy.
Fauré is known for his small, intimate pieces. He composed many works for piano plus songs and chamber music but never wrote a concerto or a symphony. His piano music is refined, delicate and difficult to play. It was greatly influenced by Chopin. His songs are lovely; he was a master at setting words to music. Fauré never liked orchestrating and often had his students arrange his works for larger ensembles when this was necessary.
Like Beethoven, Fauré suffered from a loss of hearing. However, he continued to compose, and some of his best music comes from that time.