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French-European Music in North America (1900–1950): A Study of Cultural Transfer

Les musiques franco-européennes en Amérique du Nord (1900-1950) : études des transferts culturels

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Published on Thursday, June 27, 2013 by Élodie Faath

Summary

This colloquium aims to promote the study of French-European influence on North American music, examine the mobility of works and musicians, and analyze the aesthetic, technical, ideological, and administrative exchanges between the two areas. These exchanges entail both the transformation of the target culture and a new contextualization of the source culture.

Announcement

"French-European Music in North America (1900–1950): A Study of Cultural Transfer", February 19–21, 2015, Université de Montréal / OICRM

Argument

In the first half of the 20th century, the influence of French-European music increased rapidly on a global scale. This was particularly noticeable in North America. In the United States, the French teacher Nadia Boulanger contributed to the development of a typically American style, while the experiments of Edgar Varèse inspired many composers. In Canada, where musical institutions were still young, French influence took another form. At least two successive generations of French-Canadian composers and performers studied in Paris or Brussels (often after winning the Prix d’Europe competition); they returned to found schools with new ideas about aesthetics, performance, and teaching. The creation and consolidation of musical groups (symphony orchestras, chamber ensembles, opera and dance companies, etc.) and the development of mass media (radio, recording, and cinema) favoured the spread of French music in North America. Meanwhile, music criticism developed significantly and helped establish the authority of European aesthetic models, especially French ones. Although the musical avant-garde was barely emerging in French Canada at the end of the Second World War, France played a major role in its development in the 1950s.

This colloquium aims to promote the study of French-European influence on North American music, examine the mobility of works and musicians, and analyze the aesthetic, technical, ideological, and administrative exchanges between the two areas. These exchanges entail both the transformation of the target culture and a new contextualization of the source culture[1]. Five themes will be explored:

  • The reception of French-European music in North America. Europe, particularly France, once occupied an enviable cultural position in North American imagination. Magazines, musicals and Hollywood movies enjoyed showing an idealized version of Paris. French-European works were increasingly performed, and the reactions they elicited from critics should be explored. Furthermore, the arrival of French-European music in North America rekindled the aesthetic debate between conservatism and the avant-garde.
  • The presence of French-European musicians in North America. This part of the study focuses on the little-known professional activities of French-European musicians in North America. One goal would be to determine whether they adjusted the representation of their native culture after being exposed to its North American interpretation, thus creating a reverse cultural transfer.
  • The experiences of North Americans in Europe. After the First World War, many North American composers and performers traveled to Europe. The Conservatoire américain de Fontainebleau welcomed its first group of American students in the summer of 1921, and Nadia Boulanger began privately teaching young American composers. Paris thus became a hub for many American musicians on tour.
  • The transfer of French-European models to North American musical institutions. Pedagogical methods and administrative structures that proved successful in Europe were exported to North America. In 1929, the French pianist Yvonne Hubert founded the École de piano Alfred-Cortot in Montreal. A public music conservatory was established in the same city in 1942, following the model of the Paris Conservatory. In California, Darius Milhaud became a composition teacher at Mills College in 1940. We wish to evaluate how these influences may have contributed to the development of North American musical life.
  • The impact of mass media on the circulation and reception of French music in North America. The gramophone, film and radio were perceived both as cutting-edge technology and as dangerous tools leading to cultural standardization. In any event, they were widely used by composers and performers. The colloquium will welcome discussions on film and radio music and how these media were used in the composition process. The impact of the recordings transported between America and Europe by composers is also a subject for investigation.

Until now, no colloquium has been dedicated to the reception and spread of French music in North America, or to the cultural transfers that resulted. For this reason, bringing together researchers in various fields to address these issues is particularly relevant.

Presentation of lecture proposals

Each proposal, in French or English, should include:

  • Author’s last and first name;
  • Author’s institutional affiliation;
  • Author’s biography (up to 150 words);
  • Author’s mailing address, phone number and e-mail;
  • Presentation title;
  • Presentation abstract (750–1000 words) divided into three parts: subject (topics addressed), methodology, and conclusions;
  • Selected bibliography.

Lectures must last 20 minutes. Files should be sent as e-mail attachments (Word format) to info@oicrm.org.

The deadline is October 15, 2013.

The abstracts will be evaluated anonymously by a jury of international experts. Two travel scholarships will be awarded to the best applications from students living outside Montreal.

Scientific committee

  • Jean Boivin (Université de Sherbrooke
  • Sylvain Caron (Université de Montréal)
  • Annegret Fauser (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
  • Malou Haine (Belgium)
  • Jacinthe Harbec (Université de Sherbrooke)
  • Serge Jaumain (Université libre de Bruxelles and Centre d’études nord-américaines)

Organizing committee

  • Sylvain Caron (Université de Montréal)
  • Jean Boivin and Jacinthe Harbec (Université de Sherbrooke)

Université de Montréal
Faculté de musique
Observatoire interdisciplinaire de création et de recherche en musique
C.P. 6128, succ. Centre-Ville
Montréal (Québec) H3C 3J7 Canada

Phone | 514-343-6111, ext. 2801
E-mail | info@oicrm.org
Website | www.oicrm.org

[1] According to Annegret Fauser and Mark Everist, the cultural object is no longer considered immutable, but constantly changing and growing in space and time due to the international circulation of culture and the reconfiguration of national identities. Applied to the study of the reception of French music in America, this methodological position enables a dynamic and interactive approach to different musical cultures. See Music, Theater, and Cultural Transfer: Paris, 1830-1914. Edited by Annegret Fauser and Mark Everist. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009. See also: Béatrice Joyeux-Prunel, “Les transferts cultures : un discourse de la méthode”, in Hypothèses, 2001/1, p. 149-162."

Places

  • 200, avenue Vincent-d'Indy
    Montreal, Canada

Date(s)

  • Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Keywords

  • musique, musicologie, France, Amérique, transfert culturel

Contact(s)

  • Ariane Couture
    courriel : intersections_fr [at] muscan [dot] org

Information source

  • Ariane Couture
    courriel : intersections_fr [at] muscan [dot] org

To cite this announcement

« French-European Music in North America (1900–1950): A Study of Cultural Transfer », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Thursday, June 27, 2013, https://calenda.org/254316

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