French Music: Romanticism and Impressionism

French Music: Romanticism and Impressionism

According to allcountrylist, French opera gained international recognition in the first half of the century. D. F. E. Auber, whose “Muette de Portici” (1828, German “Die Stumme von Portici”) indirectly triggered the Belgian Revolution when it was performed in Brussels in 1830, achieved equal importance for the Opéra comique as for the Grand Opéra. Further contributions to this bourgeois, serious opera genre, which also had an impact on Germany and Italy, were made by the Italian, G. Rossini, who had worked in Paris since 1824 (“Guillaume Tell”, 1829, in German “Wilhelm Tell”), the French-by-choice G. Meyerbeer (” Les Huguenots “, 1836, German” Die Huguenots “;” Le Prophète “, 1849, German” Der Prophet “) and J. F. Halévy (»La Juive«, 1835, German »Die Jüdin«). In addition, the drame lyrique genre established itself with works by C. Gounod (“Faust”, 1859), A. Thomas (“Mignon”, 1866), J. Massenet (“Werther”, 1892), G. Charpentier and Wagner – Followers A. E. Chabrier. Elements of this form of opera can also be found in “Samson et Dalila” (1877) by C. Saint-Saëns and in “Pelléas et Mélisande” by C. Debussy (1902).

A final highlight of the Opéra comique, which was also presented by FA Boieldieu, L.-J.-F. Hérold and A. Adam, marked G. Bizet’s “Carmen” in 1875, which is considered a milestone in opera history. The Maeterlinck opera “Ariane et Barbe-Bleue” by P. Dukas (1907) and the stage works by M. Ravel, namely the children’s opera “L’enfant et les sortilèges” (1925), which follow the old French tradition of the Ballet Opera resumes. As a counterpart to the great opera flourished at the time of Napoleon III. the satirical operetta by J. Offenbach, who is French by choicewith works such as “Orphée aux Enfers” (1858, German “Orpheus in the Underworld”) and “La Vie Parisienne” (1866).

In the second half of the 19th century, instrumental music gained new importance in France, both absorbing German influences and shaping the style itself. Instrumental standards had already been set at the beginning of the 19th century by H. Berlioz, who advocated the works of L. van Beethoven, CW Gluck and C. M. von Weber. He is not only regarded as the creator of a new, colorful orchestral sound, but above all as the founder of the modern program symphony (program music), with which he, among other things. influenced the New German School (F. Liszt, R. Wagner) and P. Dukas to his »L’Apprenti sorcier (1897, German» The Sorcerer’s Apprentice «, after J. W. von Goethe). In addition, his personality as a conductor and as a writer had a strong impact throughout the century. Inspired by German traditions are among others. the orchestral works by Saint-Saëns, which show the influences of Beethoven and F. Liszt (Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Op. 78 with organ, 1886), as well as the chamber music and songs by G. Fauré, who was particularly influenced by R. Schumann; he was also the musical trailblazer for C. Debussy and M. Ravel, who studied with him for a time.

A departure from German (Wagner) sounds also marks the orchestral music by E. Lalo and V. d’Indy, who instead used folkloric material. A refined and colorful instrumentation as well as a harmonics rich in modulation as in the orchestral works by C. Franck, which stand in clear contrast to the deliberately anti-romantic tonal language of E. Satie, were also characteristic. C. Franck also pioneered the design through thematic standardization of the sonata cycle (Symphony in D minor, 1889) and worked as a brilliant teacher to educate schools (V. d’Indy, Henri Duparc [* 1848, † 1933], E. Chausson). In addition, C.-M. Widor as the founder of a French organ school and E. Chabrier with his (partly later orchestrated) piano music important traces. Georges Onslow (* 1784, † 1853), who combined the traditions of the Viennese classic with French stylistic elements, also emerged with chamber music works.

The work of C. Debussy is already on the threshold of the 20th century, who initially resorted to J. Massenet and then received decisive inspiration from Russian (A. P. Borodin, M. P. Mussorgski) and oriental music. He is considered to be a representative of a musical impressionism, which, beyond any pathos, reproduces atmospheric impressions through highly refined and rich in color shades, blurring and flowing sounds, although he himself always rejected this characterization. C. Debussy was v. a. Piano, song and orchestral composer, as well as M. Ravel, whose composition, however, appears more clearly defined. M. Ravel, who (like C. Debussy) was conscious of the French clavecinists of the 17th and 18th centuries. The end of the 20th century prepared the neoclassicism, which had been in effect since around 1922, of which I. F. Stravinsky, who lived in France, was the main representative.

Musical life

The cultural center is still Paris today with the conservatory founded in 1795, numerous opera and theaters such as the Opéra or the Palais Garnier, the Opéra Bastille and the Opéra Comique (also Salle Favart) as well as around 20 other places, famous concert halls or – halls such as the Salle Pleyel and the Olympia, renowned (symphony) orchestras (including Orchester Lamoureux, Orchester de Paris, Orchester de Chambre de Paris and the Ensemble InterContemporain for modern music founded by P. Boulez ) as well as the Cité de complex, which was inaugurated in 1995 la musique. In addition, numerous festivals animate the diverse and innovative music scene such as the Paris Jazz Festival, the Chopin Festival, the Fête de la Musique, which is open to all amateur and professional musicians, the jazz festival in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, the Festival de St-Denis (for classical music), the Jazz Musette des Puces festival, the modern jazz festival in Montmartre “Les Arenas du Jazz”, the Ile-de-France festival, the cross-border “Nuits Capitales” or the great techno parade. Famous opera festivals also take place in Aix-en-Provence, Orange and Saint-Céré, while the Strasbourg Musica Festival is dedicated to contemporary music.

The radio station Radio France also plays a key role in French musical life, not only broadcasting nationwide, but also running four ensembles of its own (Orchester National de France, Orchester Philharmonique de Radio France, two choirs) and especially dedicated to contemporary music involved.

Since the 1980s, historical performance practice has also been cultivated, the roots of which in France go back to the “Société de concerts des instruments anciens” directed by C. Saint-Saëns at the beginning of the 20th century. Grenoble in particular has established itself as a center for early music, where the Musiciens du Louvre, founded in 1982 by M. Minkowski, is today. Other important ensembles are La Chapelle royale (founded in 1977 by P. Herreweghe, among others) and Les Arts florissants (founded in 1978 by W. Christie ).

French Romanticism Music