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

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

Edited by Barbara L. Kelly


University of Rochester Press



New, insightful essays from musicologists, historians, art historians, and literary scholars reconsider the relationship of Debussy, Gauguin, Zola, and other great French creative artists to cultural and political trends during the Third Republic.
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.


May 2008
22 black and white, 6 line illustrations
285 pages
9x6 in
Eastman Studies in Music
ISBN: 9781580462723
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
University of Rochester Press
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Table of Contents

Unifying the French Nation: Savorgnan de Brazza and the Third Republic - Edward Berenson
New Media, Source-Bonding, and Alienation: Listening at the 1889 Expositioin Universelle - Annegret Fauser
Debussy and the Making of a "Musicien Francais": Pelléas, the Press, and World War I - Barbara L. Kelly
"A bas wagner!": The French Press Campaign against Wagner during World War I
D'Indy's Beethoven - Steven Huebner
Messidor: Republican Patriotism and the French Revolutionary Tradition in Third Republic Opera - James Ross
The Symphony and National Identity in Early Twentieth- Century France
Transcending the Word? Religion and Music in Gaughuin's Quest for Abstraction
Jolivet's Search for a New French Voice: Spiritual "Otherness" in Mana (1935)
Rameau in Late Nineteenth-Century Dijon: Memorial, Festival, Fiasco
Becoming Alsatian: ANti-german and Pro-French Cultural Propaganda in Alsace, 1898-1914
National Identity and the Double Border in Lorraine, 1870-1914


This brilliant series of publications now offers . . . this rich and fascinating portrait of the relationships between artistic creation and the representation of national identity during the Third Republic. . . . The volume contains some twenty illustrations that make the reading most pleasurable. In sum, a remarkable contribution, and an essential work for those who are interested in French cultural history. INTERSECTIONS (CANADIAN JOURNAL OF MUSIC/REVUE CANADIENNE DE MUSIQUE) (Marie-Noelle Lavoie)

A distinguished collection of essays that will support and influence research on the fin-de-siècle for some time . . . An essential resource that deserves a place in the collection of every French scholar and academic music library. FONTES ARTIS MUSICAE (Keith E. Clifton)

Each contribution (i.e., chapter) adds to the growing literature on a musical, cultural, and political epoch that is rich in history and deep in complexity. . . . The volume is essential reading for the Francophile. MUSIC LIBRARY ASSOCIATION NOTES (Brian Doherty)

A compelling statement about the complexity of relationship between politics and art, culture and national identity, especially in fin-de siècle France, but also in many places and times besides. . . . (Individual chapters are) detailed and nuanced; concise, well-argued, and thoroughly documented. . . . The volume is historically rooted in the best ways. . . . The exploration of this ambivalence (at the time, about how French nationalism should be reflected in music) makes for a powerful statement. Accessible to musicologists and historians alike. A model for exploring the often-repeated, yet open-ended connections between music and politics, culture and identity. JOURNAL OF MUSICOLOGICAL RESEARCH (Sindhumathi Revuluri)

Excellent essays by a lively mix of writers in different historical disciplines.... An indispensable source for anyone fascinated by fin-de-siècle France. -- Carlo Caballero (University of Colorado), author of Fauré and French Musical Aesthetics

Advances an interpretive line that comes through with crystal clarity. . . . Music history and history tout court have more often than not pursued parallel paths, the one uninformed by the other. . . . The present volume will carry this conversation a valuable step further, and for this it deserves the gratitude of historians and musicologists alike. H-FRANCE REVIEW (Philip Nord)

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