International Symposium on 'Debussy: Text and Ideas' (2012)

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source: GreshamCollege        2012年8月16日
A conference to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Claude Debussy (1862-1918): an international symposium centred on the links between Claude Debussy and the literary and visual arts. The event focuses on the works of Debussy, his texts and the ideas behind them. The full conference is available on the Gresham College website: http://www.gresham.ac.uk
The transcript and downloadable versions of the lectures are available from the Gresham College website: http://www.gresham.ac.uk/lectures-and...

9:47 Introduction to the conference, 'Debussy: Text and Ideas'
Paul Archbold, Richard Langham Smith and Helen Abbott introduce the conference on 'Debussy: Text and Ideas'.
35:30 Debussy and the Independent Art Bookshop - Denis Herlin
In July 1893, a score for voice and piano of Debussy's La Damoiselle élue was published, with a decorative cover illustrated by Maurice Denis. The publisher of this editorial masterpiece was not, however, part of the music publishing world. It was published, in fact, by the composer and occultist Edmond Bailly, who owned a small bookshop at 11 rue de la Chaussée d'Antin in the 9th arrondissement of Paris. Between 1890 and 1895, Bailly published all the authors of the Symbolist generation, including Henry de Régnier, André Gide, Pierre Louÿs, Paul Claudel, and even Oscar Wilde in the form of the French version of Salomé. The bookshop was also a place of exchange and Debussy frequented the place regularly. Poets, illustrators and musicians met there towards the end of each afternoon to discuss art. Such a convergence the arts in the unique environment that was the Librairie de l'Art indépendant could not help but permeate and deeply enrich Debussy's work. In August 1893, the composer began to write Pelléas et Mélisande. It seems, therefore, that the atmosphere of the Librairie de l'Art indépendant had a significant impact on the birth of Debussy's major masterpiece.
29:42 Resonances of Baudelaire in Debussy's Piano Music - Roy Howat
Roy Howat considers two Debussy piano pieces, "Les sons et les parfums" of 1910 and "Les soirs illuminés par l'ardeur du charbon" of 1917, whose titles come from within Baudelaire poems Debussy set in 1889 ('Le balcon' and 'Harmonie du soir'). Like 'Clair de lune' and 'La fille aux cheveux de lin' (two piano pieces that directly share their title with one of his earlier songs), they are musically quite independent of the associated songs, yet invite exploration of whatever subtler relationships they may bear to these particularly structured poems of Baudelaire's, sometimes via other Debussy works.
22:45 Reflections on the New Edition of Debussy's 'Pelléas et Mélisande' - Professor David Grayson
Critical editing must of necessity concern itself with facts, many thousands of them, but the edition that is its object must be based on an understanding of the work itself, an understanding that may evolve during the editorial process. In this lecture, Professor David Grayson discusses some of the insights gained from preparing a critical edition of Pelléas.
23:00 Maeterlinck's Golaud: Between Shakespearean 'Sadism' and Emersonian Disquiet - François de Médicis
As title roles of both Maurice Maeterlinck's play and Claude Debussy's opera, Pelléas and Mélisande tend to monopolize the spotlight in most commentary. Nonetheless, major studies have demonstrated the centrality of Golaud and the unusual dramatic function of the violence he deploys, which Professor de Medicis explores in this lecture.
33:38 'Secrets and Lies' or the Truth about Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande - Katherine Bergeron
Katherine Bergeron focuses her attention on the last act of Pelléas. The narrative incongruities that surface in the unbroken final scene become the basis for a broader exploration of the question of truth (la vérité) that the opera itself raises.
25:42 Debussy, Banville and the Problem with Fixed-Form Poems - Dr David Evans
The influence of French poet Théodore de Banville (1823-1891) on Debussy is generally thought to have been limited to the early years of the composer's development. Yet by composing his Trois Chansons de Charles d'Orléans (1908) and Trois Ballades de François Villon (1910), after setting a further two of Charles d'Orléans' Rondels in the Trois Chansons de France (1904), Debussy was quite clearly following in the footsteps of his early poetic hero. Dr David Evans offers an analysis of Debussy's Villon and Orléans settings read in relation to Banville's Trente-six Ballades à la manière de François Villon (1873) and Rondels à la manière de Charles d'Orléans (1875). For Debussy, Dr Evans suggests, these songs' inventive use of fixed form poems allowed him to explore the aesthetic tension between past and future, tradition and innovation, novelty and cliché, inviting us to reflect on where, precisely, 'genuine' music is to be heard in the early years of the twentieth century.
22:19 Verlaine's poetry performed through Debussy's musical sounds: 'Spleen' in Text and Song
Dr Mylène Dubiau-Feuillerac argues that Debussy was attracted to Paul Verlaine's poems because of their innovative character and the writer's attempt at "dislocating the poetry" in a more sonorous way than the text might represent. The last melody of the Ariettes oubliées (1903), 'Spleen', is an example of this essential intertwining of idea and structure of text with musical composition.
28:31 The Literary and Musical Genesis of Debussy's Fêtes Galantes, série 2 - Professor Marie Rolf
Three manuscript sources for the second series of Debussy's Fêtes Galantes are known today. Two of them, each containing music for all three songs, are housed in the Département de la musique at the Bibliothèque nationale de France. A third manuscript, of an early version of "Colloque sentimental," is preserved in the Frederick R. Koch Collection at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University. Close study of these documents raises the possibility that Debussy was not originally planning a group of Verlaine's Fêtes Galantes at all, as he lists a poem entitled "Crépuscule du soir" on one of the manuscripts.
Professor Rolf suggests some conceivable poetic sources for Debussy's projected setting of "Crépuscule du soir" and then demonstrates why the composer might have aborted his initial concept. This study posits a chronology for the three songs that ultimately comprise Fêtes Galantes, série 2, based on both extrinsic and intrinsic musical evidence, and takes into account the early setting of "Colloque sentimental" as well. The compositional genesis of this collection reflects the process of Debussy's sublimation of his former Wagnerian tendencies and the emergence of a new compositional direction, one that parallels the dawn of a new poetic movement.
10 40:25 Claude Debussy Concert - Sophie Bevan (soprano) and Sebastian Wybrew (piano)
A recital of the songs of Claude Debussy, by Alumni of the Royal College of Music: Sophie Bevan (soprano) and Sebastian Wybrew (piano). Pieces performed, with the poets used for the text by Debussy, include the following:
Stéphane Mallarmé (1842--1898)
Trois poèmes de Stéphane Mallarmé
Placet futile
Paul Verlaine (1844--1896)
Fêtes galantes I
En sourdine
Clair de lune
Paul Bourget (1852--1935)
Deux romances
Les Cloches
Charles Baudelaire (1821--1867) from Cinq Poèmes de Ch. Baudelaire
Le Jet d'eau
Harmonie du soir
11 27:18 Text, Gesture and Performance in Debussy's 'Trois Poèmes de Stéphane Mallarmé'
Debussy's "Trois poèmes de Stéphane Mallarmé" (1913) are among the relatively infrequent instances of musical settings of Mallarmé's poetry. Following Jankélévitch on Debussy and a host of critics on Mallarmé, Professor Joseph Acquisto argues that these poems and songs comment on communicating the ineffable.
12 29:37 Singing Debussy's setting of 'Le Jet d'eau' by Baudelaire - Professor Helen Abbott
According to some scholars, Baudelaire's 'Le Jet d'eau' may originally have been written in conjunction with the chansonnier Pierre Dupont as a form of popular song. Whilst no record of any music by Dupont for this poem survives, this lecture sets out to examine what textual features of the poem seem to make it particularly 'settable' to music. It explores what happens when Baudelaire's poetry is sounded out as music through song performance, especially in the 1889 setting by Debussy, but also engaging with the two other nineteenth-century settings of this poem by Maurice Rollinat and Gustave Charpentier.
13 22:20 'Time-full' Interiors: Debussy, Fête galante and the Salon of Marguerite de Saint-Marceaux
The second half of the nineteenth century witnessed a resurgence of French interest in the Rococo period, especially in its decorative art and ornamental furnishings. Eighteenth-century fêtes galantes paintings held a special fascination; these artworks depicted such refined pursuits of elegant high society as gallant conversation and masquerade in intimate parkland settings. Claude Debussy's L'Isle joyeuse for piano (1903--4) is representative of this vogue, being inspired by Antoine Watteau's archetypal fête galante painting of 1718--19, L'Embarquement pour Cythère. Its avant-première was given in the salon of Marguerite de Saint-Marceaux on Friday 13 January 1905. Emma Adlard argues that these are all expressions of a 'private', eternal present, thereby challenging a conventional understanding of modernism as largely 'public' and progressive.
14 51:59 Le Diable dans le beffroi (1902-1912?): The reconstruction of Debussy's 'other' Poe opera
In August 1903, Debussy wrote a scenario in one act and two tableaux based on Poe's 'tale of mystery and imagination', The Devil in the Belfry (1839). He planned this as a double bill with The Fall of the House of Usher (also from 1839), selling the rights to their joint premieres to the New York Met in 1908.
This joint paper by Robert Orledge and Stephen Wyatt discusses the problems involved in producing a fast-moving, clear and dramatically viable professional libretto from what is, in effect, a discarded text, as well as those involved in setting this to music from the sketches Debussy left (but which included a complete Prelude to the first tableau from a 'spot the composer' competition in the journal Musica from January 1905).
15 36:00 Debussy and the Acte en vers - Professor Richard Langham Smith
Until recently Debussy's heritage has been skewed by our lack of knowledge of his youthful compositions. The revelation of Diane au bois is an important step forward in rebalancing our knowledge of his mature work with his youthful preoccupations. However, like many of Debussy's works, its genre is too readily defined as a 'cantata'. Examination of the sources and context of Banville's 'comédie' reveals the work as potentially dramatic, an 'acte en vers' which in turn inspired a tribute in a similar form by Stéphane Mallarmé.
This lecture examines some musical aspects of Diane au bois and the ways in which its dramatic form was developed in subsequent works, particularly the two operas Rodrigue et Chimène and Pelléas. It also adds some observations to the discussion of its relationship to Debussy's Faune and to the wider context of Debussy's Hellenistic interests, too often overshadowed by the umbrella terms 'Impressionism' and 'Symbolism'.
16 30:00 Debussy's Wave: Debussy, Hokusai and La Mer - Dr Mary Breatnach
The first edition of La Mer (published by Durand in 1905) had on its cover a picture of a wave. The image refers unmistakeably to Hokusai's 'The Wave' and constitutes an act of homage paid by a composer to an artist whose work he revered. Rather than using Hokusai's work to illustrate his own, Debussy chose to present an interpretation that, in significant ways, enabled him to reach over and transcend traditional boundaries. Dr Breatnach suggests that his purpose in using this image was, at least in part, to prepare his audience for an unprecedented aural experience.
17 30:10 Debussy, the 'Song Triptych', and fin-de-siècle Visual Culture - Dr David Code
Debussy composed eight sets of three songs between 1891 and 1913. Containing almost all the mélodies of these years, the series tracks his development from post-Wagnerian maturity to 'late' style. While we have several fine readings of individual songs, the distinctive 'triptych' form of the Debussyan 'song cycle' has received little analytical attention.
In this lecture, Dr Code takes a fresh look at the various kinds of textual and musical unity on view in this distinctly Debussyan form. He begins with a contextual glance into visual culture of the time, which saw a striking revival of interest in painted and printed triptychs. Then, in testing how such 'painterly' orientation can qualify our sense of multi-part literary and musical form, he outlines an allegorical reading of Debussy's whole series of song triptychs as an evolving response to the pressures of modernist music historiography.
18 31:08 Debussy and Movement in Space: Listening to the Music of Arabesques and Passing Breezes
Manuela Toscano argues that Debussy's 'songe musical' is inspired by the music of winds, breezes, swirls, wavering and floating in arabesques. This celebration of movement as élan vital shapes a constellation of aesthetic values which are expressed both in his music and in some of his writings.
19 [private video]

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