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One-Hit Wonder

One-Hit Wonder

French composer Paul Dukas (1865-1935) is best known for a single orchestral work, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Based on a 1797 poem by Wolfgang von Goethe, the piece was written in 1897 and premiered later that same year in Paris with Dukas himself conducting the performance. The piece was an instant hit.

Fast forward to 1940 when Walt Disney’s movie Fantasia was released, Dukas’s piece became even more widely known thanks to a certain mouse and his army of enchanted brooms. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is the most performed and recorded of Dukas’s works. 

Although Dukas composed a variety of other works, his collective output of compositions remained small including an opera, symphony, ballet, and works for solo piano, among others. Dukas was very self-critical and therefore abandoned or destroyed many of his pieces.

In addition to being a composer, Dukas was also a music critic. Later in his life, he was a composition professor at the Conservatoire de Paris and the École Normale de Musique.