Session|séance 10.1. Social Ecologies of Music.

Session|séance 10.1. Social Ecologies of Music.
Room 11-452. Chair: Bill Richards.

Friday|vendredi 25 May|mai 2018. 2:00 - 3:00PM


10.1.1. Messiaen, Jolivet, and La Spirale: The Politics of Concerts Societies in Interwar Paris

Ariana Hurt, Université de Montréal 

The short-lived concert society La Spirale (1935-1936) was instrumental in promoting the music of three future members of the group La Jeune France (Olivier Messiaen, André Jolivet, Daniel-Lesure) in a musical landscape dominated by the Groupe des Six. This organization has received little scholarly attention, only one article from Nigel Simeone (2002) and a graduate thesis (Pierre Gaucher, 2001) have studied its activities in some depth. 

This paper is informed by various source materials : a compilation of the complete concert programs, a survey of the reception of the featured performances (which garnered several favourable reviews), an examination of unpublished letters between Jolivet, Messiaen and Georges Migot, and a study of the politics of Parisian musical societies in the 1930s. A cross-study of these sources allows for an examination of the successive stages in the realization of a work. For instance, a letter by Messiaen to Jolivet explains why the composer chose to premiere his Poèmes pour Mi at the Spirale rather than the Societé Nationale de Musique; the programs show that the song cycle was featured alongside works by Claire Delbos (Messiaen’s spouse), Ravel, Milhaud, and Samazeuilh; finally, concert reviews reveal a warm reception in the press. By drawing on the political atmosphere of Parisian musical societies in the inter-war years, this paper will trace the development and demise of La Spirale, and demonstrate how this endeavour played a decisive role in the early careers of Messiaen, Jolivet, and Lesure.


10.1.2. “Salieri was no Mozart”: Re-Visiting the Musical Ecology of late 18th Century Vienna Via the Opera Overture

Alexander Carpenter, University of Alberta, Augustana 

“Salieri was no Mozart.”  This platitude regularly appears in reviews of recordings, music journalism, and historical literature concerning the two composers.  While it is arguably true that Antonio Salieri lacked Mozart’s facility and imagination as a composer—Alexander Thayer’s biography, for instance, characterizes Salieri as something of a pedant, dismissive of the progressive musical trends of the late 18th century and threatened with being swept aside by the operatic successes of his younger rival—it is nonetheless also the case that the overture of Mozart’s great mature opera, Don Giovanni, shares some striking similarities with the overture of an earlier work by Salieri, namely the latter’s tragédie lyrique, Les Danaïdes.  This paper examines the murky relationship between Mozart and Salieri through a deconstruction of some of their musical echoes—formal, thematic, harmonic, gestural—within genre of the opera overture.  More broadly, this paper considers Salieri and Mozart—putative jealous, hateful and suspicious rivals—within context of Vienna’s musical “ecology” in the late 18th century, a context in which they knew each other’s work well, and in which their music was sometimes performed together, concluding that the relationship between the two composers may be richer and more complex that historiography allows. 


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