The 1870s were a particularly eventful period in the life of Gabriel Fauré. In 1871 he was invited by his teacher, Saint-Saëns, to join the newly formed Société Nationale de Musique Française where he became acquainted with Franck, d’Indy, Lalo, Bizet, Duparc and other prominent French musicians, and heard many of his compositions for the first time. Saint-Saëns also performed the valuable service of introducing Fauré to fashionable Paris society. The soirées of the famous contralto Pauline Viardot made a particularly strong impression on the young composer; there he met Flaubert, Turgenev, Georges Sand and the historian and critic Ernest Renan, and before long he had fallen in love with Mme Viardot’s daughter, Marianne. Despite Marianne’s shyness, Fauré persisted in his attentions for nearly five years, and in July 1877 the couple finally became engaged. It seems, however, that Fauré’s passion was unreciprocated, for Marianne broke off the engagement within four months and afterwards confessed that she had found her fiancé more intimidating than endearing.