The Élégie by Jules Massenet (1842-1912) was perhaps one of the most popular melodies in Europe of the fin de siècle, the last decades of the nineteenth century, often referred to as the Belle Epoque. Massenet originally composed Élégie in 1866 for a piano cycle titled Pièces de Genre, Op. 10 Nº 5. In 1872, he incorporated the piece into Les Erinnyes (The Furies), a play by Leconte de Lisle. The sorrowful melody for muted cello became a solo piece entitled Mélodie-Elégie and was arranged numerous times for many instruments and instrumental ensembles. At some point it was adapted to the lyrics 'O doux printemps d'autrefois' by Louis Gallet (1698?-1757).
O sweet springtimes of old verdant seasons
You have fled forever
I no longer see the blue sky
I no longer hear the bird's joyful singing
And, taking my happiness with you
You have gone on your way my love!
In vain Spring returns
Yes, never to return
The bright sun has gone with you
The days of happiness have fled
How gloomy and cold is my heart
All is withered