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French Music, Culture, and National Identity, 1870-1939

French Music, Culture, and National Identity, 1870-1939

Edited by Barbara L. Kelly
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 285
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  • Book Info
    French Music, Culture, and National Identity, 1870-1939
    Book Description:

    This collection of new essays examines the relationships between discourses of French national and regional identity, political alignment, and creative practice during one of France's most fascinating eras: the Third Republic. The authors, from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds, explore the ways in which the architects of the Third Republic (re)constructed France culturally and artistically, in part through artful use of the press and (at the 1889 Paris World's Fair) new technologies. The chapters also investigate changing attitudes toward Debussy's opera Pelléas et Mélisande, attempts by composers and critics to define a musical canon, and the impact of religious education, spirituality, and exoticism for Gauguin and Jolivet. Tensions between the center and region are seen in celebrations for the national musical figurehead, Rameau, and in the cultural regionalism that flourished in the annexed territories of Alsace and Lorraine. Contributors: Edward Berenson, Katharine Ellis, Annegret Fauser, Didier Francfort, Brian Hart, Steven Huebner, Barbara L. Kelly, Detmar Klein, Deborah Mawer, James Ross, Marion Schmid, and Debora Silverman. Barbara L. Kelly is Professor of Musicology at Keele University.

    eISBN: 978-1-58046-723-0
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xi)
  5. Timeline: Selective Chronology of Historical and Cultural Events, 1870–1939
    (pp. xii-xx)
  6. Introduction: The Roles of Music and Culture in National Identity Formation
    (pp. 1-14)
    Barbara L. Kelly

    A distinctive feature of the Third Republic was its constitution and dissolution in the context of war and invasion. The loss of Alsace and Lorraine was a blow to France’s sense of itself, and until the territory was regained after World War I, it became a unifying focus for the nation’s problematic relations with the newly formed Germany. Indeed, France was most united when threatened from outside—and also when it presented its achievements to the outside world, for instance, during the 1878, 1889, 1900, and 1937 exhibitions. At the root of much of France’s disunity was the issue of...

  7. Part One: Heroism, Art, and New Media:: France and Identity Formation

    • Chapter One Unifying the French Nation: Savorgnan de Brazza and the Third Republic
      (pp. 17-39)
      Edward Berenson

      During the summer and fall of 1882, no French man or woman was more visible than the explorer Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza. At a time when France confronted armed resistance to its imperial efforts in North Africa and Indochina, Brazza’s “pacific conquest” of extensive lands along the Congo River made him a national hero. Parisian journalists crowned Brazza a “conquérant pacifique” and lauded him for winning the Congo “without spilling a drop of blood.” Brazza’s stature was enhanced all the more by a widely publicized rivalry with the famous Anglo-American explorer Henry Morton Stanley, whose current employer, King Leopold II...

    • Chapter Two New Media, Source-Bonding, and Alienation: Listening at the 1889 Exposition Universelle
      (pp. 40-57)
      Annegret Fauser

      The 1889 Exposition universelle in Paris offered exciting and often surprising aural pleasures. Military bands serenaded passersby from the bandstands; musicalcouleur localewas provided in the Romanian or Moroccan taverns; and never-before-heard sounds from foreign cultures accompanied spectacles of African village life, Vietnamese theater, or Javanese dance. But strangest of all was the telephone display at the pavilion of the Société générale des téléphones, where live performances on Parisian stages could be heard through acoustic tubes connected to electronic telephone lines that transmitted the sounds. Together with the exhibition of the Edison phonograph in the Galerie des Machines, the...

    • Chapter Three Debussy and the Making of a musicien français: Pelléas, the Press, and World War I
      (pp. 58-76)
      Barbara L. Kelly

      This chapter explores the processes by which Claude Debussy’s symbolist-inspired and potentially isolated innovations came to epitomize French musical qualities. By scrutinizing the press coverage ofPelléasfrom its première until the end of World War I, it examines the controversies surrounding the opera and Debussy’s reputation at three distinct moments. First, it considers some of the issues to emerge during the first years of the opera’s history; second, it considers the period 1908–10 , when Debussyism was at its height and when Debussy’s detractors publishedLe Cas Debussy;¹ finally, it explores the period from Debussy’s death until the...

    • Chapter Four À bas Wagner!: The French Press Campaign against Wagner during World War I
      (pp. 77-92)
      Marion Schmid

      In the career of Richard Wagner, artistic and ideological issues have always been closely interconnected, and, up to the present day, his work continues to be discussed on political rather than on purely musical grounds.¹ In France, the most famous examples of the ideological controversies surrounding Wagner are, first of all, theTannhäusercrisis of 1861, which led to the opera’s withdrawal after only three performances, and, second, the nationalist revulsion against his work after the Franco-Prussian War, which resulted in a temporary ban of his operas in the 1870s and ’80s.² Wagnerism in France began to wane at the...

  8. Part Two: Canon, Style, and Political Alignment

    • Chapter Five D’Indy’s Beethoven
      (pp. 95-111)
      Steven Huebner

      Leo Schrade wroteBeethoven in France: The Growth of an Ideaover sixty years ago during World War II—a benchmark study notwithstanding research on French Beethoven reception since then.¹ To explicate the “culture of music,” Schrade proposed to “understand man through the musical forces of which he proves himself a master” and “to seize upon the fullness of life as a unity of which music is part.”² The raging war sounds behind these words. Schrade noted that “ideas, married to the forces of life, are stronger than inanimate, bare facts where man’s mind is not visible” and that their...

    • Chapter Six Messidor: Republican Patriotism and the French Revolutionary Tradition in Third Republic Opera
      (pp. 112-130)
      James Ross

      Third Republic composers were keenly aware of the value of projecting patriotic images. This can be seen both in their compositions and in the image making they cultivated in the rapidly expanding press from the 1880s up to World War I. Works range from Augusta Holmès’sOde triomphale(1889) andHymne à la Paix(1890), written for the Paris exhibition of the same year, through Raoul Pugno’s “mime drama”Pour le Drapeau(1895), to Théodore Dubois’sSymphonie française(1908).¹ The most ambitious expression of republican patriotism, however, was Émile Zola and Alfred Bruneau’sMessidor(1896), first performed at the Paris...

    • Chapter Seven The Symphony and National Identity in Early Twentieth-Century France
      (pp. 131-148)
      Brian Hart

      At the beginning of the twentieth century, the symphony attained an unprecedented degree of acceptance in French musical society. For most of the previous century, only the symphonies of Beethoven, Mendelssohn, and Schumann enjoyed widespread favor, and among native composers Camille Saint-Saëns alone commanded much respect as a composer of symphonic music, at least until the 1890s; even Hector Berlioz’s popularity rested primarily onLa Damnation de Faust. Around 1900, though, aspiring symphonists began to find reason to hope they could achieve success in their chosen field. The schools began to include the genre in their curriculum. Recent works by...

    • Chapter Eight Transcending the Word?: Religion and Music in Gauguin’s Quest for Abstraction
      (pp. 149-171)
      Debora Silverman

      Beginning in 1886 a group of painters and their critical defenders adopted the term symbolist to proclaim their rejection of the impressionist devotion to the sensory moment. They sought to create a nonfigurative language of expressive, evocative form capable of conveying emotional states to the viewer and externalizing the dream, the fluid inner world of the artist. A robust idealism, often underemphasized, accompanied the heightened subjectivism of the symbolist generation. Theirs was a quest to link individual emotion to humanity at large, to relate the cultivation of inner vision and experience to the search for communication and connection at a...

    • Chapter Nine Jolivet’s Search for a New French Voice: Spiritual “Otherness” in Mana (1935)
      (pp. 172-194)
      Deborah Mawer

      This chapter focuses on an individual French compositional identity in the final decade of the Third Republic—that of the significant, yet canonically ignored member of La Jeune France, André Jolivet (1905–74). Jolivet shared the long-established fascination with the exotic catalyzed by the Exposition universelle of 1889 and reinforced by the Exposition coloniale of 1931. His emergent practice is part of a continuum of non-Western–inspired output by Claude Debussy, Albert Roussel, Maurice Ravel (who also enjoyed fantasy and imagination, hand in hand with a certain literalism), Olivier Messiaen, and others. It is also connected to the primitivism of...

  9. Part Three: Regionalism

    • Chapter Ten Rameau in Late Nineteenth-Century Dijon: Memorial, Festival, Fiasco
      (pp. 197-214)
      Katharine Ellis

      Assiduous readers of the Paris journalL’Art musicalmight have noticed this unusually passionate news item in the edition of August 17, 1876. In it, the Wagnerian composer and critic Victorin Joncières came under attack for an implied lack of patriotism. His sin was to have waxed lyrical over Wagner’sDas Rheingoldin his column forLa Liberté, while, in the same article, decrying Rameau’s music as “outdated [and] deadly boring.”²

      Joncières was in a tiny minority among Parisian journalists, who otherwise reported enthusiastically on the Dijon festival of August 11–15—irrespective of whether they wrote for the specialist...

    • Chapter Eleven Becoming Alsatian: Anti-German and Pro-French Cultural Propaganda in Alsace, 1898–1914
      (pp. 215-233)
      Detmar Klein

      Even today, Alsace is a country whose strange mix of French and apparently German elements is fascinating. One can see cozy German-looking half-timbered houses next to French-stylemairies, and the local market woman uses an odd mix of the Alsatian German dialectelsässerditschand French. Alsace is still clearly different from the rest of France. Between 1870 and 1945, Alsatians experienced a change in nationality four times, without ever being asked what they wanted. After France had lost the war against Prussia in 1870/71, Alsace and parts of Lorraine were forcefully incorporated into the new German Reich in the form...

    • Chapter Twelve National Identity and the Double Border in Lorraine, 1870–1914
      (pp. 234-250)
      Didier Francfort

      Music’s role in the construction of different national identities reveals what Pierre Bourdieu has called the “Montesquieu effect.”¹ The eighteenth-century philosopher Montesquieu posited correlations between climate and social and political attitudes in particular regions. In Bourdieu’s analysis, regional characteristics that conform to stereotypes are due to a population adapting to expectations placed on them from the outside rather than being expressions of a preexistent essence. The easygoing nature of southern French people, for example, as depicted in French films from the 1930s, exemplify this phenomenon. What is more difficult is the characterization of regions that are less “picturesque” than Provence....

  10. List of Contributors
    (pp. 251-254)
  11. Index
    (pp. 255-260)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 261-266)