Gabriel Fauré was born in Pamiers, Ariège, Midi-Pyrénées, in the south of France, the fifth son and youngest of six children of Toussaint-Honoré Fauré (1810–85) and Marie-Antoinette-Hélène Lalène-Laprade (1809–87).
Fauré is regarded as one of the masters of the French art song, or mélodie. His devotion to the mélodie spans his career, from the ever-fresh "Le papillon et la fleur" of 1861 to the masterly cycle L'horizon chimérique, composed sixty years and more than a hundred songs later. Fauré's songs are now core repertoire for students and professionals, sung in conservatories and recital halls throughout the world.
Gabriel Fauré's "Les berceaux," Op. 23 No. 1 (written in 1879), a setting of a poem by Sully Prudhomme, uses a flowing melodic line in the vocal part and a characteristic accompaniment in the piano to evoke the movement of both ships and of cradles (berceaux), linking the two together in motion and emotion.
The poem describes large ships rocked by the water and cradles rocked by women: "But the day of farewells will come, because women must weep, and curious men must dare the lure of the horizon." But though ships carry men away from their cradles, the ships sense, and are momentarily held back by, the soul of the cradles.
The song opens with the lulling motion of arpeggios in the piano bass line, underpinning a soothing, quietly sung vocal line. At the line "But the day of farewells will come, " a crescendo slowly builds to a forte climax on "dare the lure of the horizon." The piano leads the way back to the more flowing sprit of the opening, ending the song in the tone in which it began.
Although this piece was originally written for Piano and Voice, I arranged it for Flute and Concert (Pedal) Harp and it is best played using the "GeneralUser GS.sf2" Soundfont by S. Christian Collins Software (http://www.schristiancollins.com/generaluser.php).