Urhan, Chrétien


b Montjoie nr Aix-la-Chapelle, France (now Aachen, Germany) 1790, d Paris, France 1845. As a young enthusiast for music, he was first taught the violin by his father and soon learned to play the viola and piano as well, composing tunes at 12 or younger. He developed a gift for both improvisation and sight-reading on many instruments; when he was 15 he went to Paris on the summons of the Empress Josephine, becoming a virtuoso on the viola d’amore (or viole d’amour), a small member of the diverse viol family. From 1807 to 1815, aged 17 to 25, he played in the orchestra of the Chapelle Royale. Giacomo Meyerbeer (1791–1864) wrote in a solo part for him and this instrument in Act 1 of his grandiose opera The Huguenots. From 1816 he played in the Opéra Française and was its leader from 1831. He was also more briefly the organist at the church of St Vincent de Paul. His lifestyle was religious and ascetic, not to say eccentric; he dressed as a clergyman and ate only once a day, often on bread and radishes. In later years he suffered from depression, and over some 3 decades of playing in theatre orchestras, for reasons of conscience he always avoided looking at events on the stage, to avoid worldly or fleshly temptation. No.907.

Tunes and arrangements by Urhan, Chrétien

Tune Name