edited and translated by Elizabeth Schoonmaker Auld
In August 1914, concert violinist Lucien Durosoir was on holiday with his mother Louise in Brittany, when the world changed, and he was called up. Swapping his instrument for a rifle, he was at the front a week later. Ma Chère Maman – Mon Cher Enfant is the first-ever English translation of the letters of Lucien and Louise Durosoir. This collection provides a unique first-hand perspective on World War I. From his gruesome time in the trenches, watching as his comrades were killed beside him, to his transfer to a musical unit and work as a pigeon keeper with the composer André Caplet, Lucien wrote to his mother nearly every day, and she responded. The letters are rich with descriptions of conditions and battles, daily life at the front and Paris, music, and maternal guidance. They offer an intimate peek into the complicated relationship of two determined individuals.
About the Durosoirs
Lucien Durosoir was born December 5, 1878, to Louise Durosoir and Léon Durosoir. In 1890, Léon died from pneumonia after saving the lives of two children from drowning in an icy lake, leaving Louise and young Lucien dependent on Léon’s wealthy stepfather. After a concert by the famous violinist Sarasate, a young Lucien declared he would be a violinist. He did so, becoming a virtuoso himself, going on to play concerts throughout France and Europe—including appearances in Berlin, Vienna, Moscow, Munich, Leipzig, Budapest, Dresden, Geneva, and Prague. He is best remembered for giving the premier performances to a new audience of a number of great works. These fascinating letters record his complex relationship with his mother Louise, who valued Lucien’s musical brilliance perhaps even more highly than he did himself.
This highly readable translation of the Durosoir letter collection provides an important first-person perspective of life at the front, the perspective of a mature, well-educated man whose talent placed him in an unusual position.
– Joseph T. Acquisto
Elegantly translated and wonderfully presented, these letters represent a rich tapestry of the grim circumstances in and out of the trenches. Auld has done us a great service by making them available.
– Leonard V. Smith