Faur? was born in Pamiers, Ari?ge, Midi-Pyr?n?es, to Toussaint-Honor? Faur? and Marie-Antoinette-H?l?ne Lal?ne-Laprade. The youngest child of a large brood, he was sent to live with a wet nurse until he was four years old. At the age of nine he was sent off again, this time to Paris to study at the ?cole Niedermeyer, a school which prepared church organists and choir directors. Faur? biographer Jessica Duchen suggests that these forced separations from his family may have contributed to periods of depression he suffered in later life.
2] During the 11 years he attended the ?cole Niedermeyer, Faur? studied with several prominent French musicians, notably including Camille Saint-Sa?ns, who introduced him to the music of contemporary composers like Robert Schumann and Franz Liszt.
In 1870, Faur? enlisted in the army and took part in the action to raise the Siege of Paris during the Franco-Prussian War. During the Paris Commune he stayed at Rambouillet and in Switzerland, where he taught at the transported ?cole Niedermeyer. When he returned to Paris in October 1871, he was appointed assistant organist at Saint-Sulpice as accompanist to the choir, and became a regular at Saint-Sa?ns' salon. Here he met many prominent Parisian musicians and with those he met there and at the salon of Pauline Viardot he formed the Soci?t? Nationale de Musique. In 1874, Faur? stopped working at Saint-Sulpice and began to fill in at the ?glise de la Madeleine for Saint-Sa?ns during his many absences. When Saint-Sa?ns retired in 1877, Faur? became choirmaster. In the same year he became engaged to Marianne Viardot, daughter of Pauline Viardot, but the engagement was later broken off by Marianne. Following this disappointment he travelled to Weimar, where he met Liszt, and Cologne in order to see productions of Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen. Faur? admired Wagner, but was one of few composers of his generation not to come under his influence.
In 1883, Faur? married Marie Fremiet, with whom he had two sons. In order to support his family Faur? spent most of his time in organising daily services at the ?glise de la Madeleine and teaching piano and harmony lessons. He only had time to compose during the summers. He earned almost no money from his compositions because his publisher bought them, copyright and all, for 50 francs each. During this period Faur? wrote several large scale works, in addition to many piano pieces and songs, but he destroyed many of them after a few performances, only retaining a few movements in order to re-use any motifs.
During his youth Faur? appeared to be very cheerful, but his broken engagement combined with his perceived lack of musical success precipitated bouts of depression which he described as "spleen". In the 1890s, however, his fortunes improved somewhat. He had a successful trip to Venice where he met with friends and wrote several works. In 1892, he became the inspector of the music conservatories in the French provinces, which meant he no longer had to teach amateur students. In 1896, he finally became chief organist at the ?glise de la Madeleine, and also succeeded Jules Massenet as composition instructor at the Conservatoire de Paris. At this post he taught many important French composers, including Maurice Ravel and Nadia Boulanger.
From 1903 to 1921, Faur? was a critic for Le Figaro. In 1905, he succeeded Th?odore Dubois as director of the Paris Conservatory. He made many changes at the Conservatoire, leading to the resignation of a number of faculty members. This position meant that he was better off in terms of income, and he also became much more widely known as a composer.
Faur? was elected to the Institut de France in 1909, but at the same time he broke with the Soci?t? Nationale de Musique, and supported the rogue group which formed out of those ejected from the Soci?t?, mainly his own students. During this time Faur? developed ear trouble and gradually lost his hearing. Sound not only became fainter, but it was also distorted, so that pitches on the low and high ends of his hearing sounded like other pitches. He made efforts to conceal his difficulty, but was eventually forced to abandon his teaching position.
His responsibilities at the Conservatoire, combined with his hearing loss, meant that Faur?'s output was greatly reduced during this period. During World War I Faur? remained in France. In 1920, at the age of 75, he retired from the Conservatoire mainly due to his increasing deafness. In this year he also received the Grand-Croix of the L?gion d'honneur, an honor rare for a musician. He suffered from poor health, partially brought on by heavy smoking. Despite this, he remained available to young composers, including members of Les six, who were devoted to him.
Gabriel Faur? died in Paris from pneumonia in 1924. He was given a state funeral at the ?glise de la Madeleine and is buried in the Passy Cemetery in Paris.