Introduction to Helps’ music

If one must bring to attention the relatively small quantity of works issued from the brilliant pen of Robert Helps (42 mature compositions recognized by the composer – just under 7 hours of music in concert duration), let it be known that “major” composers like Pierre Boulez have barely exceeded this without suffering the slightest accusation of improductivity. Rather, let us invoke the strangely small collection of polished jewels in the output of Henri Duparc – only 17 songs, a symphonic poem, a ‘cello sonata, and a handful of piano pieces.

Helps cherished each of these works and would have been proud of even the vaguest comparison with Duparc. While he was clearly not a victim of neurotic self-criticism and destructive frenzy like his French predecessor, Helps did face a series of psychological battles in life. One senses in each of his works the fragility and danger of his existence as well as the joy and lightness he exuded. A delightful surprise patiently awaits the 21st century initiate to Helps’ music; as we say in France – à découvrir !