Paul Abraham Dukas (1865 - 1935) was a French composer,
critic, scholar and teacher. Born in Paris, he was the
second son in a Jewish family of three children. His father
was a banker and his mother, who died when he was just 5
years old, was a pianist. Dukas entered the Paris
Conservatory at the end of 1881 when he was only 16 years
of age. Among his fellow students at that time was
Claude Debussy with whom he formed a close friendship.
Dukas won several prizes, including second place in the
Conservatory's most prestigious award, the Prix de
Rome, for his cantata Velleda in 1888. He
left the Conservatory in 1889, disappointed at his
failure to win the top prize.
Dukas worked as a music critic, contributing regularly
to several French journals. He was intensely
self-critical and abandoned or destroyed many of his
compositions. His best known work is the orchestral
piece The Sorcerer Apprentice (L'apprenti sorcier),
popularized by the Disney production, Fantasia.
Later in his life he was appointed professor of
composition at the Paris Conservatory and the Ecole
Normale de Musique. His pupils included Olivier
Messiaen and Joaquin Rodrigo.
Dukas was invited by his colleague Hettich to contribute
a piece for a collection of vocalise-etudes to be used
in the concours. Dukas composed this Vocalise-etude,
Alla gitana, (In a Gypsy style) for voice and piano
in 1909 to fulfill Hettich's request. Today, this music
has been adapted for several different instruments with
piano and is one of Dukas' most popular melodies. The
current edition for clarinet in B-flat and piano has been
edited by John Anderson.