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Interpreting the Musical PastEarly Music in Nineteenth Century France$
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Katharine Ellis

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195365856

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195365856.001.0001

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La musique française at the Crossroads

La musique française at the Crossroads

(p.119) 4 La musique française at the Crossroads
Interpreting the Musical Past

Katharine Ellis

Oxford University Press

Three interrelated case studies demonstrate how revivalists sought to convince a war-torn society of the importance of their stage-music heritage: a periodical (La chronique musicale, 1873-6); a collected edition (the Chefs d'oeuvre classiques de l'Opéra français, 1877-84; and the fully staged productions of Lully and Charpentier incidental music at the Théâtre de la Gaîté and the Comédie-Française). The chapter shows how the 1870s revival of interest in French opera remained only symbolic unless the music was packaged as an “accessoire” (such as dances arranged for piano) or as concert excerpts: even the Lully and Charpentier stagings were dependent for their success on reverence for Molière. Nevertheless, crucial changes of the 1870s in the rhetorical presentation of this repertory would have fuller effect in the 1890s. The chapter ends with an analysis of the terms in which supporters redefined the Frenchness of the repertory in positive terms — terms that have, for better or for worse, remained descriptors of classic French music ever since.

Keywords:   nationalism, Molière, Lully, education, Charpentier, Rameau, Destouches, Lalande

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