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).
As a young man Fauré had been very cheerful; a friend wrote of his "youthful, even somewhat child-like, mirth." From his thirties he suffered bouts of depression, which he described as "spleen", possibly first caused by his broken engagement and his lack of success as a composer.
After receiving La Croix de Guerre as a young man for army service in the Franco-Prussian War, Fauré returned to Paris in 1871 to be assistant organist and accompanist to the choir at Saint-Sulpice, then later at the Madeleine Church - again following in Saint Saëns footsteps. Following a series of misunderstandings, the fraught and fragile engagement to his beloved Marianne Viardot was broken and he married Marie Fremiet. This was a rather unhappy marriage, as it transpired, but he remained married to Marie for the rest of his life in spite of his relationships with other women.
They had two sons and to support his family, Fauré supplemented his church income by teaching piano and harmony - composing during summer holidays but making very little money from it as his publisher bought the works and their outright copyrights for a mere fifty francs each. In the 1880s, after these tribulations, the previously cheerful Fauré became prone to bouts of depression. Described by him as 'spleen', this is reflected in many of his songs. Disappointed, self critical and uncompromising, he destroyed many of his works during this period.
Although this piece was originally written for Piano and Voice, I arranged it for Flute and Concert (Pedal) Harp to accentuate the sorrow and unhappiness. It is best played using the "GeneralUser GS.sf2" Soundfont by S. Christian Collins Software (http://www.schristiancollins.com/generaluser.php).