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Berlioz on MusicSelected Criticism 1824-1837$
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Katherine Kolb

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199391950

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199391950.001.0001

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Polytechnical Society

Polytechnical Society

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Chapter:
(p.260) 42 Polytechnical Society
Source:
Berlioz on Music
Author(s):

Katherine Kolb

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199391950.003.0043

Much sooner than Berlioz had predicted, the workers’ chorus founded a year earlier has given its first concert. In reviewing it, he falls into some of the quasi-religious rhetoric of the proto-socialist Saint-Simonians, with whom he has sympathized. We learn that Mainzer’s chorus forms only one of several parts of the curriculum offered to workmen through the Polytechnical Association: there are classes in geometry, arithmetic, drawing, and other subjects. Music was added as a form of moral instruction: it was decided that the best way of directing popular education toward the Good was to cultivate an “artistic sensibility.” Berlioz’s generous critique of the choral concert resonates with his own deeply held belief in the civilizing power of music, a belief touchingly confirmed by the workers’ serenade for their choir director in the aftermath of the concert.

Keywords:   Polytechnical Society chorus, Mainzer, Mermoud, musical education, civilizing powers of music

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