Chants d’Auvergne is a work of the composer Joseph Canteloube written between 1923 and 1930 and published between 1924 and 1955. It consists of five collections of traditional songs collected in Auvergne , which have been harmonized and orchestrated. The composer wrote his score for soprano and symphonic orchestra. He did not want to follow the original music to the letter or make the “authentic” and his work does not have a folkloristic aspect. Canteloube simply wanted to give a personal interpretation of these melodies of popular origin, a bit like a French Béla Bartók or a painter facing a landscape.


Canteloube had begun in the 1900s to collect the traditional tunes of Auvergne and Quercy , then had achieved a personal harmonization of some of them. Canteloube thus allowed to preserve this artistic inheritance which could have disappeared during the two world wars because of the rural exodus and the evolution of lifestyles. These well-known songs have gained international stature and are regularly performed by the great classical singers of today.

The lyrics of the songs are in Occitan Aurillacois (or langue d’oc), and cover a period of three hundred years.

He continued his collection on the whole of France to publish several collections of songs of the various provinces, transcribed without harmonization ( Anthologie des Chants Populaires Français , 4 vols., 1951). Since then, these four collections constitute a reference in which many traditional musicians come to draw.


The best known of the Chants d’Auvergne is Baïlèro .

In his biography of Joseph Canteloube, Jean-Bernard Cahours of Aspry recounts the circumstances in which the author had collected, at dusk, the air that will become the theme of this Baïlèro : “It was an evening of 1903 at nightfall in the mountain overlooking Vic-sur-Cere , in Cantal . He contemplated the majestic landscape that presented itself to his eyes, when suddenly the song of a shepherdess uttered his words. Taking care not to show himself, he began to note the melody, when from afar, as if carried by the breeze that rises in the evening on the mountain, he perceived barely perceptible, the distant voice of another shepherd who repeated the theme, six kilometers away. ”

Baïlèro was also choreographed, under the title The Wish ( Palais Garnier , by the Royal Danish Ballet and the Paris Opera Orchestra , directed by Graham Bond , January 99). The interpreters of this pas de deux then chose to express themselves between the shadow and the light, as if to express a hesitation of the couple, between attraction and remoteness.

The notoriety of the song goes beyond the European borders insofar as it was used, in 1972, as a sound accompaniment of the performance Hosotan , major piece of Tatsumi Hijikata , founder of the avant-garde Japanese contemporary dance, the butô .


The first recording of Chants d’Auvergne was performed with soprano Madeleine Gray . As Canteloube introduced them, these songs are part of the classical repertoire and have been recorded by many other singers including baritone Gérard Souzay in 1966, Victoria de Los Angeles in 1973, Frederica von Stade in 1982 (Vol.1) and 1985 (Vol.2), Bernard Boucheix  [ archive ] in 2007, etc.

There is a CD interpretation of songs listed by Canteloube, in the form of a recording entitled Auvergne Chants (Recordings Decca ) made in 2000 by the group of medieval music Elysium .

List of interpreters who have registered the compendium

  • Madeleine Gray
  • Victoria from Los Angeles
  • Dawn Upshaw
  • Kiri Te Kanawa
  • Frederica von Stade with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Antonio de Almeida . Sony 1CD ref
  • Gérard Souzay
  • Karina Gauvin
  • Arleen Auger
  • Véronique Gens with the Lille orchestra
  • Marvis Martin with the Auvergne orchestra
  • Netania Davrath
  • Maria Bayo with the Tenerife Orchestra conducted by Victor Pablo Perez
  • King’s Singers
  • Sonia Malkine


Example of the lyrics:

Unhappy who has a wife, unfortunate who does not have one! Who does not want one, who has one does not want one! Tradèra, ladèri derèro, ladèra, ladèri dèra!

Happy woman who has the man he needs! But even happier, the one who does not have one! Tradèra, ladèri derèro, ladèra, ladèri dèra!

Volume I

  • Pastoura als Camps (The shepherdess in the fields)
  • Baïlèro (Chant of Shepherds of Haute-Auvergne)
  • Three Bourrées: Aïo de rotso (spring water), Ound ‘onorèn gorda? (Where will we go?) And Obal, din lou Limouzi (There in the Limousin)

Volume II

  • shepherdess
  • The Antouèno (The Anthony)
  • The Pastrouletta è lou chibalié (The shepherdess and the rider)
  • The Delaissad o ( The Neglected )
  • Two Bourrées: Did not go to Mío (I do not have a friend) and Lo Calhé (The quail)

Volume III

  • Lo Fiolaire (The spinner)
  • Passo pel prat (Come by the meadow)
  • Lou Boussu (The Hunchback)
  • Brezairola (Lullaby)
  • Malurous que o uno fenno (Unhappy who has a wife)

Volume IV

  • Jou The Pount D’o Mirabel (At the Mirabel Bridge)
  • Oi Ayai
  • For the child
  • Hush, hush
  • Pastoral
  • Lou coucut (The cuckoo)

Volume V

  • Obal, din lo coumbelo (In the distance, there in the valley)
  • Quan z’eyro petitoune (When I was little)
  • Up there, on the Rock
  • Hey ! Beyla-zy dau fè! (Hey, give him hay!)
  • Postouro, do you love me (Bergère if you love me)
  • Te, the co, t! (Go, dog, Go!)
  • Uno jionto postouro (A pretty shepherdess)
  • Lou diziou be (We said well)


  • Songs of the Auvergne – Chants d’Auvergne . Recordings by Frederica von Stade with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Antonio de Almeida. Sony 1CD ref.
  • Chants of Auvergne . Recordings by Véronique Gens with the Orchester National de Lille conducted by Jean – Claude Casadessus. Ref Naxos 8.557491 1CD.
  • Canteloube – Songs of Auvergne . Recordings by Arleen Auger with the English Chamber Orchestra directed by Yan Pascal Tortelier . Ref Virgin Classics Ultra Violet 7243 561120 25 1CD.
  • Chants of Auvergne . Recordings by Marvis Martin with the Auvergne Orchestra conducted by Jean-Jacques Kantorow. Ref Denon CO-75862 1992 8.557491 1CD.
  • Songs of the Auvergne . Recordings by Netania Davrath with orchestra conducted by Pierre de la Roche.

In culture

In The Rain, before she falls , the British writer Jonathan Coe refers to this work that accompanies the narrator’s suicide.