Paul Dukas’s modern aesthetic revealed in funereal mode : Le Tombeau in La Revue musicale

Minors, Helen Julia (2015) Paul Dukas’s modern aesthetic revealed in funereal mode : Le Tombeau in La Revue musicale. In: Royal Musical Association Annual Conference; 09 - 11 Sep 2015, Birmingham, U.K.. (Unpublished)


Panel Proposed by Dr. Minors. Panel Members: Dr Laura Hamer (Liverpool Hope University) Dr. Helen Julia Minors (Kingston University, London) Christopher Brent Murray (FRS-FNRS/Université libre de Bruxelles) Laura Watson (Maynooth, Ireland) Panel Summary: The imminent 150th anniversary of Dukas’s birth offers an opportune moment to appraise his role in French modernism. Dukas’s music has consistently been admired for fusing personal originality with order, clarity, and architectural solidity. Several works are steeped in tradition but a handful display experimental qualities which warrant greater scholarly attention. Dukas ceased to present himself as a public artist after La Péri (1912); this line of thought dominates ostensibly authoritative writings by commentators close to the composer (Brussel, 1936; Samazeuilh, 1936; Favre, 1969). The influential Revue musicale editor Henry Prunières further portrayed Dukas as an ‘independent’ amongst his peers. Such assessments are problematic because they promulgate two misconceptions: that Dukas was more or less creatively spent before World War I and that he had limited interest in shaping or engaging with new directions and discourses in French music that emerged after the war. Our re-evaluation of Dukas’s postwar position is informed by recent inquiries into interwar French modernism (Caron, de Médicis & Duchesneau, 2006; Wheeldon, 2011; Kelly, 2013). Kelly calls for better recognition of 1913–39 as a time when diverse musical cultures and debates flourished in France. We respond with a case study of Dukas’s activities around that period. Overall the panel of four 15 minute papers demonstrates that Dukas made vital contributions to the formation and growth of French modernism.

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