Theater music in France, 1864-1914 Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Lamothe, Peter
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Music
  • Incidental music served as a major outlet for composers during the latter half of the nineteenth century and the start of the twentieth century. Over three hundred and fifty premières and dozens of major revivals of older works took place during the fifty-year span of this study. Composers who contributed incidental music included Bizet, Bruneau, Chausson, Debussy, Delibes, Fauré, Gounod, Massenet, Pierné, Saint-Saëns, and many other less celebrated composers. This study examines the nature and significance of this oft-neglected genre. The topic is approached through five case studies meant to provide various cross-sections of noteworthy aspects of the genre over this fifty-year span. The approach to the case studies is twofold: through studies of the institutions which produced the most incidental music during this period, and through three productions which provide a variety of approaches with regard to their dates, theaters, compositional styles, and their respective places in their composers' careers. The Comédie-Française is examined across this fifty-year time, with particular regard to the contributions made by Léo Delibes and by Laurent Léon, the orchestral director of the theater from 1871-1913. The Théâtre de l’Odéon (1884-1892) and the Grand-Théâtre (1892-1893) are studied during the directorships of Paul Porel, the director who was responsible for reviving Bizet’s L’Arlésienne after its thirteen-year slumber. Examinations of Jules Massenet’s music for the tragedy Les Erinnyes (1873/1876), Claude Terrasse’s music for the farce Ubu roi (1896), and Claude Debussy’s music for the mystery play Le Martyre de Saint Sébastien (1911) impart varied insights into the range of musical styles present, into the interactions between theater and music, into the nature of the genre, and into the roles which incidental music played in the careers of composers. The breadth and depth of the genre is indicated by an appendix which lists the major premières and revivals of incidental scores from the years 1864-1914, with some coverage of the years before and after the period.
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  • Fauser, Annegret
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  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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