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Baron Frédéric Alfred d'Erlanger (29 May 1868 – 23 April 1943[1]) was an Anglo-French composer, banker and patron of the arts. His father, Baron Frédéric Émile d'Erlanger, was a German[2] head of a French banking house,[3] his mother, Mathilde (née Slidell),[4] was an American.[1]

One of four sons,[5] d'Erlanger was born in Paris.[2] He began his musical studies in Paris under Anselm Ehmant,[1] his only teacher. His first work, a book of songs, was published when d'Erlanger was 20 years of age. Shortly afterwards, in 1886, he moved to London with his elder brother, Baron Emile Beaumont d'Erlanger, to work as a banker,[2] for the private banking firm that his father owned.[3] Both d'Erlanger and his brother became naturalised Englishmen.[3] His compositions include works of all kinds, notably the operas Jehan de Saintré[1] (Aix-les-Bains, 1 August 1893; Hamburg, 1894), Inès Menso[2] (produced, under the pseudonym of Ferd. Regnal, in London at Covent Garden on 10 July 1897, and subsequently in Germany); Tess[2] (after Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles[6]), produced at the Teatro di San Carlo, Naples, on 7 April 1906 and at Covent Garden on 14 July 1909, on both occasions under the baton of Ettore Panizza; and Noël, produced at the Paris Opéra-Comique on 28 December 1910.

In 1935 his ballet Les cents baisers, with a libretto by Boris Kochno, was produced by the Ballets Russes, choreographed by Bronislava Nijinska, with decor and costumes by Jean Hugo.[7] His other works included a string quartet, a sonata for violin and pianoforte, an Andante symphonique for cello and orchestra,[1] a quintet for pianoforte and strings, a Suite symphonique for orchestra (1895),[8] a violin concerto, Op. 17, played by Fritz Kreisler at the Philharmonic Concert of 12 March 1903, and a Concerto symphonique for piano and orchestra (1921). One of his later works was a Requiem for solo voices, chorus and orchestra in 1931.[1] Clearness of form and elegance of idea and expression are the distinguishing marks of d'Erlanger's music, whether in his operatic work, in his chamber and orchestral music, or in his songs.[1]

A millionaire,[9] d'Erlanger was described as a "genuine Renaissance man"; he was a noted patron of the arts in London and invested in developing countries, financing department store chains in South America and railways in South Africa.[2]

D'Erlanger was a founding member of the Oxford and Cambridge Musical Club.[10] "Baron Fred", as he was known, was a frequent participant in the regular Thursday musical soirées of the club.

The supplement to The London Gazette of 27 February 1918, in records of the partners in the firm Erlangers, records Baron Fred's home at that time as Park House, Rutland Gate, London. In 1925, d'Erlanger married Catherine, "a French woman of good family".[11] In 1932, he put his name on the foundation stone of what was then the Musicians' House, later renamed Merebank House, in what was then fairly open countryside between Dorking and Horsham, constructed for the Musicians' Union (which he supported) as retirement home for five musicians; he attended a performance in a marquee there of his opera Tess by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Henry Wood also being in attendance. His own home by then was at 4, Moorgate, but he actually died whilst staying at Claridges Hotel London, a favourite of his, 23 April 1943, leaving £601,461 in his will, one of his two executors being his nephew, Leo Frederic Alfred D'Erlanger,[12] son of Baron Fred's brother, the French painter Baron Rodolphe d'Erlanger who was the constructor of Ennejma Ezzahra. The other executor was a solicitor.

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