This family man was well-acquainted with the works of Schubert, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Beethoven, and Bach before he acquired a felicitous spirit from Massenet and an understanding of harmonic richness and cyclical form from Franck, with both of whom he studied at the Paris Conservatory. Having first completed legal studies, Chausson's late start in formal musical training required many years of persistence in order to reach refinement. In fact, it was only shortly before his death that Chausson entered his third and most triumphant period of output (1894-1899) during which he fully mastered his technique and embraced new ways of thinking about and writing music. The music of his first and second periods, with shapely melodic lines, elegant harmonies, and elaborate and dramatic styles, showed the influence of Wagner and Massenet, whereas that of his third period grows in sonority and harmonic subtlety.
Chanson Perpetuelle (1898) provides an example of the direction in which Chausson was taking his music. The piece has an air of disenchantment and conveys the oppressive degree of Chausson's post-romantic world. The verse is a declaration of love to an absent lover and is taken directly from Charles Cros' poem "Chanson Perpetuelle." Written for voice, piano, and orchestra (or string quartet/quintet), Chausson implies the title's perpetual recurrence by developing the work's introductory bars, a phrase in the minor mode, which rises to a fifth and falls to the third and tonic, as a predominant accompanimental figure to the tenderly longing syllabic vocal line. The only formal repetition of the piece is found within verse seven, when the music of the first verse is repeated. Chausson is remembered as one of the most prominent and influential members of the Franck circle, and after a period of cleansing himself of his early musical influences, he and other friends attempted to renew interest in pure forms of classicalism. Chanson Perpetuelle is an example of the type of purified music that the Franck circle might have been interested in, as it is free from the at-times-incomprehensible Wagnerian language and the Massenet-like use of excessive trills and arpeggios, which were found in Chausson's early works. Chanson Perpetuelle is a moving representation of the clarity and conciseness, which appeared in Chausson's final works.