Leisure, fashion and music: Satie's Sports et divertissements

Minors, Helen Julia (2013) Leisure, fashion and music: Satie's Sports et divertissements. In: Eighth Biennial International Conference on Music Since 1900; 12-15 Sep 2013, Liverpool, U.K.. (Unpublished)


Les Annees folles have generally signified an emergence from WWI gloom into the bright lights of frivolity and economic prosperity before the rude awakening of the 1929 global crash. In terms of music, the period is conventionally associated with the final abandonment of overblown Romanticism and a tendency toward the fusion of highbrow, popular and exotic musical styles. Yet recent cultural histories of the French Belle Epoque (c. 1871–1914) have suggested that this earlier ‘golden age’ was characterised by compound and conflicting hues. In this panel, we seek to acknowledge the analogous complexity of musical life in the Roaring Twenties, focusing particularly on the contested terms of leisure and pleasure. The first paper in the panel speaks most directly to the classic interpretation of Les Années folles (albeit drawing attention to frivolity’s grave and profound subtext), while the final paper questions the chronological boundaries of a period characterised as much by nostalgic retrospectivism as by future-oriented modernism. In between, our discussions operate on a sliding scale from close analyses of individual works and their intermedia aesthetics (paper 2) to the symbolic landscapes of working-class sociability (paper 3). Our panel will speak directly to scholars of French music by examining a diverse array of creative production and reception in both Paris and the provinces. At the same time, our panel engages with a number of the conference’s underlying themes—e.g. issues of mobility and tourism, dance music and canon construction—and will be of interest to any musicologist working on the history of musical modernism between the wars.

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