The house in Bélus

The decision to live in the country was essential to Lucien’s need to construct a future for himself. His solitude was enriched by his mother’s companionship, by the proximity to nature (essential for the artist), and by the friendship of a few village residents.

They bought the house in Bélus in 1926; the restoration (directed by the village curate who had become a friend) took several months. They moved in at the start of 1927. The village was charming, if perhaps a bit antiquated. The property, known as Les Chênes, was set off by a white stone wall topped with rusting grillwork. From the second floor windows one could see the Pyrenees. The large yard was the place to plant an orchard. It was the only house within miles with a bathroom and electricity. Lucien installed his library in a small room to which he could retreat for composing. He faced with serenity the years to come with a single sustaining wish: to work in silence, far from the world.

He must have spent hours and hours in his library because his musical production grew rapidly. The ten years, between 1927 and 1937 were a time of intense creative activity, during which he composed his most mature works. He described his composing during this time as “work, but also something like a game, and a joy. The essential is not the composing but the vision.”

Lucien never showed any desire to have his music published. Was Louise kept informed of his progress, she who had always been passionately devoted to everything touching her son and had so frequently urged, instructed him to compose during the war? She must have been for she certainly could not contain her curiosity, and her clear judgment had to have wanted to evaluate the work for herself. Louise fell ill and died in 1934. Lucien composed his Berceuse for flute and piano which he himself described as “funereal.”

With Louise gone an entire phase of Lucien’s life came to an end. He had never lived without her; she was his alter ego through all his concert touring before the war, and through all the daily letters during the conflict. And now she was no longer there. Yet there was another project dear to Lucien’s heart, long dreamed of, but one that he had not realized: to start a family. At age 57, maybe it was too late. For others perhaps, but not for him. Everything he had lived through paradoxically gave him confidence for this new step. He met Hortense, a lovely young woman, born in the village and from a highly-respected family. They married the following year; a son, Luc, was born in 1936, then a daughter, Solange, in 1937. He finally had his family, the beloved family he had not dared dream of. This could be happiness; but it was a troubled happiness, filled with the agonizing noises of war.

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