2008 | 5 | 118-130
Article title

KAROL SZYMANOWSKI AND FRENCH MUSICAL CRITICISM (Karol Szymanowski et la critique française)

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The article depicts the presence of Szymanowski and his music in Paris and in the French musical press. Szymanowski visited Paris every year in 1920-1926 and since 1932 until his death, but he was less known to the French public than other outstanding composers of the time. According to the author three main reasons contributed to this situation: the fact that he did not live in Paris for a longer time, was not commissioned by the 'Ballets russes' and, finally, the discrepancy between his style and the musical fashion in the 1920 - Les Six. In the first article on his music published in French press (1922, by Alexandre Tansman) he is presented as a modern, independent composer, distinctly Polish, true to the spirit of his roots, more spiritually than ethnically. Emile Vuillermoz calls him a 'new Chopin' and makes of him an anti-Milhaud in his authentic modernism. Others described some of his works as 'seductive', filled with erotic mysticism, individualistic. The author notes the inability of the critics to classify this music, which is particularly clear in the case of 'Stabat Mater' premiered in Paris in 1930. After the Parisian premiere of 'Harnasie' (1936), in the time when the return to antiquity replaced the return to the sources, several reviewers, unaware of this change, were markedly more critical. Thus the 'splendid isolation' searched by Szymanowski himself and of which his music still suffers in Paris, may have been - unconsciously - perceived by these critics.
  • Didier van Moere, Université Stendhal - Grenoble 3, UFR des Lettres et arts, BP : 25 - 38040 Grenoble cedex 9, France
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