Mauclair and the musical world of the 'Fin de Siecle' and the 'Belle Epoque'.
Over the years this integrity was highly praised. In 1905 Paul Adam, one of the Mages classified by Jules Huret, called Mauclair's prestige that of 'la meilleure sorte de critique impartiale'; in 1921 Du Bos studied the role played by Mauclair over the preceding thirty years 'dans la haute pensee litteraire et artistique de son temps'; and in 1927 he was described by Andre Billy as an 'ecrivain hautain et retire', who had long since gained esteem 'par son attitude desinteressee'. (3) Frederic Lefevre, in a rare account of a personal interview, dated 'Novembre 1922', recognized in Mauclair 'l'un des plus consciencieux essayistes de notre temps', while Mauclair informed him, 'Je cache ma personne et ne montre que mes oeuvres'. (4) It is broadly considered that Mauclair's renown rests on his fine art criticism, which constitutes at least half of his total output (including travel pieces in relation to the arts). This was taken to be his particular devotion even in the 1920s, his success being assured from as early as 1903 to 1905 with two books on French painting since 1830 and a critical biography of Rodin, all launched in English editions in London. (5)
By comparison, little attention has been given to Mauclair as a musicographer, although his volumes of memoirs are well known for various passages 'colouring in' the concert world. The main reason for this neglect is that G. Jean Aubry's biography, the sole biography of Mauclair, appeared in 1905, when Mauclair was only thirty-three. Though it splendidly accounts for Mauclair as literary philosopher, poet, and novelist up to that point, it antedates his writings on music, the 'formal' books being produced between 1906 and 1919 (with articles from 1903 to 1911), and the memoirs, Servitude et grandeur litteraires and Mallarme chez lui, with their various souvenirs of the musical scene, not appearing until 1922 and 1935. (6) Jean Aubry saw Mauclair as a key figure in fin de siecle criticism, arguing that he offered 'l'image plus ressemblante [sic] de toute une generation desireuse de vie grave' and that 'le developpement de sa pensee atteste, exacte et complete, l'evolution de ce temps' (Jean Aubry, Camille Mauclair, p. 6). It is worth remarking that while Mauclair's musicography extends up to 1919 (with one subsequent return to the subject in 1936), and takes in attitudes right up to the end of the Great War, his particularly passionate interests, Debussyism, Wagnerism, and Franckism, were all generated before 1900 and then recorded retrospectively by a mind subtly attuned to a certain conservatism which formed in the ten years or so preceding 1914, the so-called belle epoque. (7)
Mauclair, spoken of as having 'une parfaite receptivite', was conspicuously good at taking in and correlating the recent and contemporary, but perhaps less striking at a later date in the area of historical criticism (which possibly explains the falling away at about 1935 of the interest of reviewers in his continuing new publications). Fields of study that were close in time showed all Mauclair's merits of diligent and close appraisal and of assimilative choosing, his 'deductions' and 'prolongements' as Remy de Gourmont had called them in 1898. (8) Paul Leautaud wrote an early appreciative account of Mauclair as critic, which another anthologizer, G. Walch, found attractive to the point that he gave it in extenso in his own Poetes contemporains. Leautaud commended Mauclair's 'notation propre et toujours interessante' and, in the same way as Mallarme in 1894 had spoken of the young poet's 'clavier d'aujourd'hui', stressed Mauclair's contemporaneity: 'L'Esprit de l'heure, en effet, traversa souvent sa pensee [...]. Ses ouvrages [...] gardent aussi la marque de l'epoque a laquelle il les ecrivit, avec quelque chose de la formule et de la maniere litteraires dont il etait penetre en les ecrivant.' (9) Mauclair, reviewing his own writings in 1922 and clearly alluding in particular to the essays in musicography, wrote similarly: 'je ne me suis permis de composer divers livres sur plusieurs arts que dans la mesure ou cela me semblait necessaire pour etablir une certaine theorie de la fusion des arts dans la conscience' (Servitude, p. 217). The idea of a fusion of the arts (and, from there, of critical values) in the 'consciousness' is that of a commonalty of the human mind, certainly not that of a Hegelian elitist mind, but of a mind belonging to 'la collectivite'. It undoubtedly derives from and belongs with the literary philosophy of l'Altruisme, spreading out from a humanitarian platform established by Rene Ghil in 1897. Though l'Altruisme is not in any way the centre of Mauclair's commitment to writing on music, it does have a meaning within it, partly one of outlook and partly one of style. I return to this point towards the end of this article.
There exists a rare and charming account of Mauclair quite soon after the publication of his Schumann, his first book of musicography. Written by Edmond Jaloux, it devotes several pages to his Sunday afternoons in Marseilles in 1908 with Mauclair and the young Madame Mauclair, who sang Schumann with beauty and gravity. This was when Mauclair was thirty-six, and Jaloux, the younger person, approached him at first diffidently, as being a famous novelist. (10) Schumann: Biographie critique (1906) was followed in 1909 by La Religion de la musique, retitled in 1914 Essais sur l'emotion musicale, Volume I. Volume II, Les Heros de l'orchestre, appeared in 1919. (These heroes are the composers.) Between these dates, in 1914, came Mauclair's Histoire de la musique europeenne, 1850-1914. Mauclair also published a number of articles on music, from 1903 to 1911, at the rate of one or two a year. These tended to be quite contemporaneous, for example 'La jeune musique francaise' (1910), and, in the same year, 'L'enseignement de la saison russe'. In 1917, with another Russian visit among the few stage presentations in Paris, 'Les ballets russes' were given a further account, this time with plates, in a plaquette of twenty-six pages. All of these specialized writings fell between 1903 and 1919, and there was only one more article thereafter, 'Les Symbolistes et leurs musiciens', one amongst the many that commemorated the half-centenary of Symbolism in 1936. Mauclair was himself one of the Symbolist poets who had their verses set for piano and verse, in his own case by several composers, a fact that is reflected in his continuing eagerness to discuss the subject of the lied. (11)
Mauclair, to those for whom he was not firstly a disciple of Mallarme, was broadly a Schumannian, firstly as poet, then as biographer of the composer. Five years before he died, he was still, in 1941, 'le Schumannien Camille Mauclair' for the literary historian. (12) Although there have been several biographical and other accounts of Schumann since Mauclair's, his contribution is not necessarily superannuated. As well as being his only study devoted exclusively to one composer (while he wrote several monographs in the field of literary history), it appears almost as a declaration of a personal debt of gratitude, for Mauclair's particular idea of poetical musicality, Romantic and Germanist, is really what made his literary identity at the age of about twenty-five. His first volume of verse, Sonatines d'automne, though dedicated elsewhere, 'A Robert Scheffer' in friendship, is inspired by Schumann's piano pieces, particularly, it has been said, by the Novelettes. His second, Le Sang parle (1904), dedicates to the 'Grande ombre' of Robert Schumann 'ces pauvres fleurs d'un reve ne des siens'. (13) It contains a considerable section called Lieds (a term that some contemporaries like Albert Mockel took up for their own use in poetry) and seems to contain most of Mauclair as poet: Romantic simplicity as in Hugo's Les Feuilles d'automne (1831); some debt to Verlaine; and a great deal of the linguistically modern Laforgue, with something of his witty sentimentality. (14) The following lines are characteristic:
O fille de Schumann, ecoute
Ton reve aux yeux mi-clos
Pleurer doucement goutte a goutte
Son lied de sanglots [...]
Toutes les heures sont faites
Pour dire douleur et amour:
O fille aux tresses defaites,
Meurs aussi, voici le jour.
(Le Sang parle: Section Lieds, 'Kreisleriana')
Such lines the poet liked to call 'melodies oublieuses' and Henri de Regnier saw in them the Romantic individual, 'sa songerie et sa sensibilite'. In his Histoire de la musique europeenne 1850-1914, Mauclair gave Schumann an honourable, though not excessive place, perhaps because the composer's death in 1856 comes very early in Mauclair's time frame. Schumann is actually indexed twenty-seven times, about as often as Beethoven, who, having died in 1827, was an earlier master but one preferred by Mauclair over all other composers (overWagner, and over Debussy). (15) Borodin, for the sake of comparison, is indexed thirteen times, Rimsky-Korsakov and Richard Strauss, eight times each. Schumann is however given pride of place wherever the subject is 'song', though Mauclair acknowledges a 'republic' of liederwriters, his essays including 'Causerie sur Schubert et le lied allemand', 'Une note sur le lied: un lied d'Ernest Chausson'. (16) The subject of lied, lied populaire, and folksong ('chants nes du sol') was part of the thinking of Symbolists poets in respect of national heritage. In Mauclair's case it was linked with the popular promotion of concert performance and programmes, especially in the provinces, which was an aspect of his adopting the philosophy of l'Altruisme.
Mauclair's developing acquaintance with music from the age of fifteen is told in his two books of memoirs and also integrated into his previously published Essais sur l'emotion musicale. He underlines the Symbolists' well-known enthusiasm for music, mentioning Mallarme and his disciples 'dont plusieurs etaient bons executants et grands amateurs de concerts' (Servitude, p. 214. On page 31 he writes of Mallarme: 'Au promenoir du concert Lamoureux--son seul luxe dominical--il allait chaque semaine s'enivrer de l'opium de la symphonie'). The opportunities for concert-going were already great from 1880, and were more and more widely enjoyed because of the popularizing endeavours of three impresarios, first Pasdeloup, then in the 1890s Lamoureux and Colonne, whom Mauclair calls the great Sunday afternoon educators of souls.17 He conjures up the fraternal enthusiasms of the Symbolists seeking Wagner, 'a defaut de Bayreuth', in the promenade or standing gallery of the Cirque d'ete, and in the dusty amphitheatre of the Chatelet, and in the 'gods', and remarks of those times, 'Je les ai retraces en d'autres livres'. He himself acquired the 'religion' of music as a fifteen-year-old, listening to celebrated performers at the concerts Pasdeloup or at piano recitals chez Pleyel and chez Erard, both celebrated names in the building of pianofortes. (18)
Mauclair makes it clear that at that time he had not yet imagined himself an essayist on music. Enjoying 'des ivresses musicales et d'intenses emotions que mon gout ne disciplinait pas', he saw music as 'une passion et non comme un motif d'education' (La Religion de la musique, p. 79). A personal involvement with Maeterlinck and Debussy in 1893, recounted in Servitude et grandeur litteraires (pp. 106-07), is part of his increasingly close observation of the musical scene. Debussy almost certainly knew the text of Maeterlinck's La Princesse Maleine, much celebrated in 1889 but not staged, and, as is implied in a well-recorded interview, divined a playwright who could furnish him with a text of 'dream' that might yield a libretto as different from the verismo of Puccini as Puccini was different from the grand manner of Verdi. (19) Consequently, he was part of an 'elite' audience (Mallarme's word) at the performance of Maeterlinck's Pelleas et Melisande on 27 May 1893. This came about, in no small measure, through the bold advance publicity of Mauclair on behalf of the non-financially assisted theatre non-regulier. Maeterlinck, knowing Mauclair well through their previous collaborative articles and as co-producer of his play, assisting Aurelien Lugne-Poe, asked him in August 1893 to go to Debussy, who was already advanced in a piano version of an opera from the play, to investigate the desirability of negotiating performing rights with the composer (Maeterlinck later discussed the details of modifications to the text personally with Debussy). Mauclair, knowing of Debussy through the mardis of Mallarme, though seemingly not having previously encountered him, records 'je vis un etre singulierement sarcastique, a la fois froid et violent'. He nevertheless reported back to Maeterlinck with unreserved enthusiasm, though not yet foreseeing 'l'immense impression causee onze ans apres'. By 1904 he considered that it was the opera that glorified Maeterlinck's text, marking 'une date dans l'histoire musicale plus que dans l'histoire litteraire'. Indeed the very extensive reviews of the play by Francisque de Sarcey and Jules Lemaitre had seen in it imperfections of tone which they preferred to pass over in favour of a performance of a uniquely appealing pathos. However, Mauclair, in his Histoire de la musique europeenne, did not fail to establish Maeterlinck's presence at this 'date in musical history': 'L'Opera-Comique donna enfin cette oeuvre, en 1904: elle apparut comme une merveille exceptionnelle, adaptant a une legende une musique de reve, la secondant si parfaitement que la dualite des auteurs semblait indiscernable'. (20) He goes straight on to attempt to penetrate Debussy's manner: 'un emploi constant de la monodie, une declamation dont seuls les drames de Moussorgsky, inconnus alors en France, offrent l'exemple'. (21) He also praises in the opera 'un admirable don de suggerer des atmospheres lyriques'. (22)
Mauclair at first underestimates the scope of Debussy's pre-1894 piano- and song-writing, evoking only 'quelques melodies sur des poemes de Baudelaire et de Verlaine' (Histoire, p. 155). While this remark reasonably suggests the Verlaine-inspired Fetes galantes (1892), it leaves the uninformed reader with little idea of the extent of Debussy's work between 1878 and 1892, setting to music numerous poets from Lamartine on, often several songs from each poet. (23) Mauclair does, however, note on the same page that the published works in their abundance 'affermissaient le renom de l'auteur, en attendant qu'on connut [...] Pelleas et Melisande'. Mauclair's intention is to describe and explain the reception that was given to Debussy's orchestral sound in L'apres-midi d'un Faune: Prelude, first performed, like his Quartet, in 1894. Debussy, a composer for the piano, known as a refined 'harmoniste' offering the fruits of his 'recherches singulieres', was now heard in orchestral sound 'avec une surprise defiante' by a public of whom some regarded the new sounds as 'des caprices de decadent' (p. 155). In this period of growing renown Debussy enjoyed the applause of many, met with the resistance of some (especially the Wagnerists) and was occasionally 'siffle', as Debussy himself remembered. (24) Mauclair was acquainted with the subject of the 'nouvelle cadence' in music, not least through the well-known remarks of Mallarme in 1891. (25) The discussion of the 'nouvelle cadence', which Mauclair does not treat in a technical way, essentially concerned 'la carrure' (four-square composition) and 'la tonalite' (the real or implied presence of a musical key in a work). Debussy was, to a degree, Wagner's successor in having an experimental approach to what had been conventionally understood and listened to. (26) Mauclair describes Debussy, initially suspected of 'caprice', of producing associations of sound that were at first perceived as 'insolites et folles', before being assimilated by the public. In Mauclair's view it was 'la revelation de la symphonie russe' that helped attune the public's ear to new musical expectations. (27)
A further element in this experience was the changing climate of the arts: 'A mesure que tombaient les preventions contre la poesie symboliste et l'art impressionniste, Claude Debussy apparaissait comme un impressionniste musical et un poete d'une intense originalite' (p. 155). We are now fully familiar with the expression 'musical Impressionism', widely and perhaps initially applied to Debussy's Trois esquisses symphoniques: La Mer (1905). Mauclair traces the tradition to Liszt, seeing Liszt's 'tendres et charmantes pages italiennes' as examples of 'le paysage musical tel qu'un Debussy ou un Ravel l'ont pu concevoir'. (28) With Liszt in mind, he places Debussy's originality, with some insight, 'distant de Wagner plus que de Liszt, de Berlioz plus que de Franck, de Beethoven plus que de Schumann'. (29) In all, Mauclair admires the 'Frenchness' of Debussy, somewhat capriciously, since the 'Introduction' to his musical history declares that studying music on the international scene saves the critic from the fault of esteeming his nation's music at the expense of that of other nations. He sees Debussy, in a picture that certainly widened over time, as 'curieusement voisin des petits maitres du dix-huitieme siecle'. The sense of that comment is today very clear, and is plainly justified by Debussy's Petite Suite (1889), Fetes galantes (1892), and especially by Masques et bergamasques (1905) with its use of the small French Classical orchestra, in the manner of Rameau and Couperin. (30) A frequent commentator in essays and articles on the French School, Mauclair leaves Debussy with these words: 'cet isole captivant se defend d'ailleurs de faire ecole', while remarking on 'celle qui s'est pourtant reclamee de lui'. He writes in conclusion: 'Il demeure que Claude Debussy est un des trouveurs les plus curieux et un des sensitifs les plus aigus qu'ait connu l'ecole francaise'. (31)
Mauclair applauds all the contemporary French composers, Debussy of course, Chabrier, Lalo, d'Indy, Dukas, Faure, his friend Florent Schmitt, as between them 'recreant l'individualite de l'ecole francaise', but he also declares that not even the genius and the Frenchness of Debussy can outweigh the impact of Wagner as the greatest European composer since Beethoven. Mauclair's enthusiasm forWagner is such that he writes about his music almost too hyperbolically, evoking 'l'immense zone de lumiere que sa magie nous ouvrit' and an 'enchantement' already felt by Mauclair's seniors when he himself was twenty-one, as 'fascinateur, peremptoire, total' (see Histoire, pp. 121-31 and Servitude, p. 223). The discussions of Wagner had unfortunately been beset from the beginning by nationalist partisanships. The Parisian audiences for Tannhauser in 1861 had, not to their greatest credit, become more and more restless over three performances, because they found the libretto too philosophical, un-entertaining, and 'Teutonic'. (32) In the 1870s Wagner was much disliked by the French because of his ridiculing of France's defeat by the Prussians, his Gallophobia having become known, it seems, mostly through Victor Tissot's Les Prussiens en Allemagne (1876). (33) Mauclair thus felt himself part of a union of 1890s intellectuals, resisting a press unjustly castigating all that attracted the young as 'brumes du Nord' and antipatriotism (Servitude, p. 214). Jibes about 'brumes du Nord' were levelled against the recent 'renaissance de la litterature belge' too. Mauclair, and others, were called unpatriotic before 1900, only to be later called 'racist' because of their bitter disappointment with a German aggressor once thought 'idealist', a disappointment felt by Mauclair not least because of the misfortunes visited upon Belgium. Mauclair had not travelled to Wagner's Festival Theatre in Bayreuth, inaugurated in 1876, and had become acquainted with the discussions in the Revue wagnerienne at a later date than its inception in 1885. He remembers himself, however, as a fifteen-year-old attending 'la tumultueuse audition de Lohengrin tentee courageusement par Charles Lamoureux a l'Eden en 1887, quatre ans apres la mort de Wagner' (Servitude, p. 223). Mallarme wrote a review of that turbulent concert, the first extensive performance of Wagner's music that he had heard (hailing with pleasure 'ce qui est, jusque maintenant, la verite'). His main intention, though, was to reproach the French for neglecting (even politically speaking) an occasion for manifesting 'a une nation hostile la courtoisie [...], quand il s'agissait d'en saluer le Genie dans son aveuglante gloire', and to defend the evening against the chauvinistic rowdiness of 'la crapule'. (34) In fact, after this Lohengrin, the opportunities for seeingWagnerian opera in Paris were soon to be rich and dazzling. While at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, Wagner already dominated the seasons from 1885 to 1890, there were productions at the Paris opera, from 1890 to 1900, of Lohengrin, L'Or du Rhin (in concert pieces), La Walkyrie, Tannhauser (in 1895, for the first time since 1861) and Les Maitres Chanteurs. Tristan et Iseult was performed in Brussels in 1894, and Lamoureux presented it in concert in 1899 at the Nouveau Theatre. There followed a Lamoureux concert of L'Or du Rhin at the Paris Opera in 1901, and in 1902 performances of Siegfried and Le Crepuscule des Dieux at the Opera and Chateau-d'Eau respectively. (35) However, Mauclair singles out as the apotheosis of restored good will 'cette soiree de L'Or du Rhin, a l'Opera en 1909 [incorrectly for 1911], soiree de triomphe delirant ou tant d'hommes intelligents et de femmes somptueuses oubliaient sans doute le remords d'anciennes huees et d'anciennes maledictions'. So, after the Great War, Mauclair dreams nostalgically: 'et nous avons pu vieillir, et voir bien des choses: mais jusqu'a la fin nous resterons, ceux de 1890, les fils de Wagner' (Servitude, pp. 224 and 225).
When Debussy's opera Pelleas et Melisande was performed in 1904, various commentators, Mauclair among them, announced the phenomenon of Debussyism. Mauclair also declared 'La fin du wagnerisme' in his article thus entitled in the Revue des Revues (Vol. xlviii (1904), 464-74), and in a similarly entitled section in La Religion de la musique (pp. 237-52). (36) However, he in no way ceased to admire Wagner the composer. 'Wagnerism' meant to him, as he frequently explains, the aesthetic discussions by the Symbolists of Wagner's theories concerning the stripping of legendary subjects of their historicity, of what the Symbolists referred to as the 'accidents' and 'contingencies' of historically realistic story-telling, so as to lay bare the Symbol, especially in the form of archetypal figures, on the stage, in the dramatic poem, and in legendarist narrative verse. Mauclair did not himself introduce legendarism into his poetry. The end of these passionate discussions did not especially relate to the new Debussyism but, as Mauclair himself experienced, to the almost complete falling away of new poetry from among the Symbolists between 1900 and 1904, so that there was indeed what Andre Billy, in his L'Epoque 1900, calls 'un trou' between Symbolism and the Surrealism of Apollinaire. Mauclair notes in relation to those years that 'une reaction s'est produite contre le systeme de Wagner' (Wagner's theatrical theories) and indicates a return to 'la musique pure', in particular music altogether independent of theatre, as originally championed by Cesar Franck, though Franck himself had died in 1890. It is through the German voice of Nietzsche, quite separately from the discussion in France, that Mauclair pronouncesWagner a hero of theatrical culture, paraphrasing Nietzsche's view that Wagner restored Legend to the stage for the first time since Sophocles and Euripides and loosely quoting the German poet's characterization of the composer as 'le genial representant de la "sagesse tragique" depuis l'hellenisme' (Histoire, p. 49). It remained for Mauclair to recount the misfortunes of Wagner's name with the Germans themselves at the end of the Great War, for they themselves, he says, blamed their national hero in the arts for having inflated German pride to foolish proportions: 'Le sanctuaire de Bayreuth, derniere cathedrale osee par la modernite, est bombarde par le mepris et la colere vengeresse. Ayant ete la cime de la Kultur, il croule avec elle'. (37) He did not think, of course, that this would be history's judgement onWagner: 'RichardWagner demeurera un des plus authentiques heros de tous les temps (8 chefs-d'oeuvre) dont la suprematie s'affirmera intangible au milieu meme des contestations de l'art futur' (Histoire, pp. 61-62).
Mauclair plays his part in installing Richard Strauss in the French consciousness. The French scarcely cared to know if there existed any German composer after Wagner, Mauclair explains, but Richard Strauss's works duly crossed France, and in time he had become 'l'Allemand le mieux connu, le mieux accueilli et le plus fete en France'. This remark follows an enumeration of the works: 'On entendit de lui six grands poemes symphoniques (1889-1899), Don Juan--La vie du heros. Enmeme temps il s'etait consacre a la musique dramatique, donnant en 1894 Guntram, en 1901 Feuersnot. Depuis il nous faudra mentionner Salome, Electra, Le Chevalier a la rose, et Ariane a Naxos, qui ont obtenu d'immenses succes et ont assure la gloire mondiale de cet auteur.' Mauclair undoubtedly knew the Theatre de l'OEuvre's production of Wilde's Salome at the Comedie Parisienne in 1896, following for the Revue encyclopedique until June 1898 everything that was played by the company for which he had worked. It is easy to see, however, that he does not embrace everything of Richard Strauss, resisting 'Decadence' at the risk of appearing 'academiciste': 'Si Feuersnot est une oeuvre d'allegresse comique, Salome atteint aux dernieres limites du realisme brutal, Electra a celle de la barbarie intervenant dans le classicisme' (Histoire, pp. 82 and 84. Richard Strauss is indexed for pp. 72-74, 81-82, and five other times).
Cesar Franck was one of Mauclair's early encounters with music, 'un des fondateurs, au lendemain de 1871, de la Societe Nationale de musique'. The young writer had listened to Franck's lunch-time recitals as organist and choirmaster in the church of Sainte-Clotilde (an appointment carried out until his death alongside his teaching at the Conservatoire) and had been present at his funeral in 1890. He considered Franck under-rated by the French who also failed to notice that he was Belgian. It is true that Franck's Symphonie en re mineur, when first performed by the Societe des concerts du conservatoire in 1889, was considered by some pedantic and simplistic, though the devotional solemnity of its long first movement was admired and has always been respected since. Mauclair refers from it to the earlier solemnity of Les Beatitudes (1869), 'vaste oratorio', and to Redemption (1876). (38) Mauclair had given a first account of Belgian music in his 1897 article, 'La Belgique par un Francais', in which he introduced contributions from several Belgian writers and figures in the world of the arts. (39) He distinguished, as it became not inhabitual to do on the subject of the Belgian artistic renaissance, two Belgian minds, the one dedicated to domesticity and wellbeing, the other imbued not just with religiosity but with a deep memory of the mystic religious Primitivism (in painting and in text) of the sixteenth century and earlier. Mauclair was readily able to perceive this through his friendship with Maeterlinck, who had translated Ruysbroeck's Ornement des noces spirituelles into French from the Flemish with an accompanying introduction (Bruxelles: Lacomblez, 1891). Again, Pelleas et Melisande was considered to be a phenomenon that would have been inexplicable from a French dramatist and that was understandable only in terms of the Flemish mind. Mauclair made no attempt to distinguish Flemish culture from the Walloon culture of the Liegeois, but evoked in Franck 'la mysticite ideale, l'effusion tendre et fervente de ces compositions religieuses' for which the composer had been hailed ' "un Fra Angelico musical" [...] un Primitif, mais avec toutes les ressources de la technique a la fois la plus classique et la plus novatrice' (Histoire, p. 139. Mauclair associates Franck with his own master, Mallarme, as having 'les memes raisons morales' on pp. 137-41). The obituary article by Albert Mockel had already explained the regionality and enduring glory of Franck embraced as a Belgian Primitive: 'C'est la gloire de Cesar Franck d'avoir precise en soi-meme et magnifiquement resume une race et des siecles qui trouvent en lui leur signification' (quoted by A. J. Matthews in La Wallonie, pp. 72-73). In all other respects, Mauclair explains Franck's good effect in fixed terms: it was he who reduced the effect of theatrical aesthetics that were threatening to overwhelm 'la musique pure': 'Admirant et comprenant Wagner mieux que personne, il eut pourtant la sagesse de garder ses jeunes amis de cette totalisation de la musique dans le theatre'. Through his tuition, French and Belgian music saw 'le developpement d'une ecole symphonique homogene [...] contribuant [...] a exclure la virtuosite superficielle, a ramener les executants a cette interpretation orchestrale qui a ete un des plus grands merites de Liszt' (Histoire, pp. 139-40. Mauclair does not overlook Franck's own two 'essais sceniques', Hulda and Ghisele (p. 162) though neither had at that time been seen on the stage).
It is not within the scope of this essay to justify all the areas of Mauclair's interest in the European musical scene, though there has been an attempt to refer to most of these. My purpose in this concluding section is to indicate the philosophy that invests Mauclair's writings between 1906 and 1919 and the style that goes with this philosophy, for these have their place in an integral picture of la belle epoque. Emerging somewhat diffusely in the opening years of the twentieth century, the philosophy identified in Mauclair by G. Jean Aubry in 1905 is named l'Altruisme. His close study of Mauclair highlights the disquiet of Mauclair's novels of 1897 (L'Orient vierge) and of 1898 (Le Soleil des morts) over intellectual elitism in exclusive collectivities, seen by some as a dangerous Comtian 'sociocratic' and dictatorial leaning. Mallarme too was conscious of this trend within the Third Republic and warned against it in his article 'Sauvegarde', published in the Revue blanche of May 1895 (Mallarme, OEuvres completes, pp. 416-20). It was only in Mauclair's next novel, L'Ennemie des reves (1899) and in the two novels that followed (all three of these subtitled 'Roman contemporain') that this theme fades away, virtually dropped, perhaps as self-consuming, to be replaced by a humanitarian preoccupation, concerned indeed with a collective soul, but this time a popular and not elitist soul, and representing a move towards Rene Ghil's mouvement altruiste or Altruisme. (40)
It was in 1897 that Ghil, with whom Mauclair was not personally acquainted, sent to Mallarme (from whom Ghil himself had been distanced for several years) the newly published Volume III of L'Ordre altruiste. The volume affirms Ghil's hopes for 'l'art altruiste en but humanitaire', acknowledging that this philosophy has in itself no room for l'art pour l'art. Mallarme replied with a characteristic mixture of perceptiveness and subtle courtesy: 'Cette fin de la premiere partie de l'OEUVRE, le volume III de L'Ordre altruiste, s'acheve en une grande plateforme de pensee, d'ou le pied sur domine. [...] J'en jouis, [...] a cause, ici, d'une vision humaine superieure meme a la nomenclature' (Mallarme, Correspondance, Vol. IX (1897), 242-43, letter MMCDXCVII). Mauclair's writings on music reflect this admittedly dispersed philosophy in the sense that they are part of a 'vision humaine' that has no desire for controversialism, and that they turn attentively, from time to time, to promoting art for the collectivity. This can be seen in the titles of Mauclair's essays in 1909 and 1919. In La Religion de la musique, the altruist point of view colours the titles of the different sections: 'L'Art de la collectivite', 'Occultisme musical', 'Le snobisme musical', 'L'Applaudissement au concert'; similarly, ten years later in Les Heros de l'orchestre, one section is entitled 'La musique et le coeur du peuple'. Two examples show the simplicity of Mauclair's engagement with the music of the people: his comments on the lied populaire, a subject always close to his heart, and his discussion of music in the provinces. In 'La musique et le coeur du peuple' he writes that the French nation, which in monarchical and pious times had the secrets of 'une floraison du lied populaire' to rival that of any culture, was now stricken with poverty in this regard, an opinion widely shared among Symbolist poets. Mauclair, however, earnestly hoped for a series of measures to restore this heritage and give dignity to what Albert Mockel in 1894, mourning its demise, called 'la verve naturelle du peuple'. (41) On the second point, also in 'La musique et le coeur du peuple', Mauclair makes an appeal for more reachable programmes for the provinces, because 'le peuple au grand coeur n'a pas la musique digne de ce coeur', a perhaps surprising comment, given the particular accessibility of French composers such as Massenet, Chabrier, and Bizet (Les Heros de l'orchestre, 'La musique et le coeur du peuple', p. 141). That Mauclair had made his decision that this liberal and human, yet rather vulnerable position was critically meaningful is clear from the 1919 'Postscript' to the essays. Virtually Mauclair's last word on musicography, this is a statement of the philosophy of the altruistes 'en artistes sinceres [...] devant la foule': 'Que l'art, distinct de l'ambition et de l'argent, soit la plus grande pitie et l'image de ce qu'il y a de beau dans tout homme' (unnumbered page, 'Postscript', Les Heros de l'orchestre). Mauclair, who was appreciated for his ease of expression, certainly committed himself to a style that must be called accessible. Indeed, Charles du Bos regretted that it lacked 'sovereignty of expression'. However, if it is journalistic at times, this is journalism of a high order. Mauclair's greatest enthusiasms seem to be couched in a language designed to appeal to a female readership, to the artistic women of the belle epoque and its salons, whom he apparently called the 'Sirenes de five o'clock'. (42) This style is fully developed in Mauclair's later essays, especially in 'A Paderewski' ('Printemps 1919') where the great pianist who made 'des actes triomphants' of the Polonaises of his earlier compatriot, Chopin, is the subject of an extended apostrophe: 'Je ne vous ai plus revu depuis les apres-midi heureuses, ou l'annee precedant la grande guerre, nous errions dans le jardin de votre seigneurial domaine de Morges [...]. Vous avez dresse a Cracovie le monument somptueux de l'heroisme polonais devant une foule tremblante de joie' ('Figures', Les heros de l'orchestre, pp. 101-04). The lyrical cadence evident here is characteristic of Mauclair's style as a fifty-year-old memorialist recalling special moments of the 1890s, and nowhere more so than in his writings on music.
From a later vantage point, it can be seen that, if Mauclair was conservative and human even to the point of sounding homely, he was not out of touch with a generalized resistance to the disruption in aesthetics, declaring the overthrow of all existing aesthetic and moral values, as initiated about 1909 in, for instance, the manifestos of Italian Futurism. A generalized conservatism, of which Mauclair was a part, became clear in some of the best-known endeavours of the period, for example, in l'Unanimisme of Jules Romains about 1910, where 'les etats collectifs d'ame' protect traditional but not elitist values; and in Maurice Barres whose Romantisme patriotique was first in evidence as early as 1897 in Les Deracines.
Mauclair's bibliographers, Talvart and Place, publishing twenty-five pages on him in 1956, pay tribute to the scope, perceptiveness and style of his writings. They acknowledge that his fame suffered as a result of his diversity, and one must agree that they are right in seeing in his work a certain lack of unity (what Gide in the 1890s called the 'avatars' of his friend). They recognize that 'l'etendue et la su rete de son savoir, l'aisance de sa plume, son immense labeur semblaient lui assigner une autorite qu'il n'a pas acquise'. They note the little attention given in 1956 to Mauclair's critical writings. but affirm that he will always be sought out for 'des informations, des apercus, des idees qui sont autant de ferments pour la vie intellectuelle'. (43)
(1) See Stephane Mallarme, Correspondance, ed. by Henri Mondor and Lloyd James Austin, 11 vols (Paris: Gallimard, 1959-1985), IV I (1890-1891), 231, note 2. This note is to Mallarme's reply to the first letter he received from Mauclair, dated 2 May 1891. For Mallarme's comment, see his letter to Mauclair dated September 1897 (as Mauclair began writing Le Soleil des Morts), Correspondance, IX, 281.
(2) See Alfred de Vigny's 'Preface' to Chatterton (1834), which describes three kinds of literary man: 'L'HOMME DE LETTRES--Le veritable, LE GRAND ECRIVAIN-LE POETE'. For Du Bos, see note 3, below.
(3) Respectively: Paul Adam (La Province, 1905), quoted under 'Opinions' in G. Jean Aubry (later G. Jean-Aubry), Camille Mauclair, biographie critique, suivie d'opinions et d'une bibliographie (par Ad. V[an] B[ever]) (Paris: Sansot, 1905), pp. 50-51; C. Du Bos, 'Camille Mauclair, interprete spirituel' in Approximations (Paris: Fayard, 1965), pp. 578-89; Andre Billy, La Litterature francaise contemporaine. Poesie--Roman--Idees, 3rd ed. (Paris: Armand Colin, 1929, first edition 1927), p. 192.
(4) F. Lefevre, 'Avec Camille Mauclair' in Une heure avec ... Premiere serie (Paris: NRF, 'Les documents bleus', 1924), pp. 227-32 (pp. 227, 228). 'Je cache ma personne' because in the 1890s Mauclair had been much seen lecturing in Paris, first for Lugne-Poe's theatre and then in 1900 on Rodin, and had about 1895 extensively toured in Belgium, presenting Maeterlinck and Ibsen.
(5) They were published, with plates, by Duckworth, the third Auguste Rodin appearing in 1905, the year in which Mauclair was made chevalier of the Legion d'honneur. See Joy Newton, 'Camille Mauclair et Auguste Rodin', Nottingham French Studies 30 (1991), 39-55. Mauclair in due course published an Auguste Rodin, l'homme et l'oeuvre (Paris: Renaissance du livre, 1918).
(6) For the 'formal' musicographical writings, see note 13. The memoirs are Servitude et grandeur litteraires, souvenirs d'arts et de lettres de 1890 a 1900 (Paris: Ollendorf, 1922) and Mallarme chez lui (Paris: Grasset, 1935), named Book of the Year by the novelist and critic Edmond Jaloux. Edouard Dujardin's Mallarme par un des siens (Paris: A Messein, 1936) appeared shortly after.
(7) See Andre Billy, L'E poque 1900 (1885-1905) (Paris: Tallandier, 1951), pp. 480-81. Speaking of Mauclair and his 1905 article 'La reaction nationaliste en art', Billy maintains: 'L'evolution vers le nationalisme, l'academisme, le racisme, etc., ou devait s'engager quelques annees plus tard Camille Mauclair, n'enleve a ce qu'il disait en 1905 rien de ce qui en fait aujourd'hui la signification a nos yeux.'
(8) See Remy de Gourmont, Le IIe Livre des Masques (Paris: Societe de Mercure de France, 1898; 11th edition 1924) 'Camille Mauclair' pp. 90-99, esp. pp. 91 and 93.
(9) P. Leautaud, quoted in G. Walch, Anthologie des poetes francais contemporains, 3 vols (Paris: Delagrave; Leyden, A.-W. Sijthoff, 1919), III, 199-200 and later in A. van Bever and P. Leautaud, Poetes d'aujourd'hui, morceaux choisis, 2 vols (Paris: Mercure de France, 1927), II, 1, 2, in slightly different words. The 1940 edition of the latter anthology is in three volumes.
(10) See Edmond Jaloux, Les Saisons litteraires, 1896-1903 (Fribourg: E ditions de la Libraire de l'Universite de Fribourg, 1942), pp. 243-54.
(11) The details of Mauclair's musicographical works are as follows: Schumann. Biographie critique (Paris: H. Laurens, n.d. ). This edition, including twelve documentary engravings, published in the collection 'Les Musiciens celebres' was reissued in the same collection in 1930. Essais sur l'emotion musicale, 2 vols (Paris: Fischbacker, 1909, 1919): II, La religion de la musique (1909), II, Les Heros de l'orchestre (1919). These two volumes were reissued by Fischbacker in 1928. Elements of La Religion de la musique first appeared in Mauclair's Idees vivantes (Paris: Librairie de l'Art ancien et moderne, 1904). Histoire de la musique europeenne, 1850-1914--Les hommes--Les idees--Les oeuvres (Paris: Fischbacker, 1914). Hereafter, references to this are given as 'Histoire'. For the articles (1903-1911), see Hugo P. Thieme, Bibliographie de la litterature francaise, 1800-1930, 2 vols (Paris: Droz, 1933), II (L-Z), pp. 256-60.
(12) See F. Baldensperger, La Litterature francaise entre les deux guerres (Los Angeles: Lyman House, 1941), p. 67. Mauclair is shown contributing the subject of 'la musique interieure' to the recent debates on 'la poesie pure'.
(13) Sonatines d'Automne, poemes (Paris: Ollendorf, 1895) and Le sang parle, poemes (Paris: La Maison du Livre, 1904).
(14) Mauclair and Maeterlinck collaborated early on articles promoting the poetry of Laforgue, the 'expatriate in Germany', who had died in 1887. The relationship with Maeterlinck was the beginning of Mauclair's numerous lecturings in Belgium and of his taking to himself the 'good repute' of Belgium. Mauclair edited the first complete works of Laforgue in three volumes for the Mercure de France (1902, 1903). Mauclair said in 1905, 'Je suis si peu symboliste que je considere l'expression de la vie le but de l'art', a clear statement of Romantic intention recorded by Guy Michaud in his Message poetique du Symbolisme (Paris: Nizet, 1947), p. 548.
(15) There are two essays on Beethoven in Les Heros de l'orchestre, 'En ecoutant la Neuvieme', pp. 3-12, and 'Sur la Messe en re majeur (Beethoven et Michel-Ange)', pp. 13-20.
(16) The 'Causerie sur Schubert' is the longest in La Religion de la musique, pp. 120-43. Mauclair had occasion to praise Ernest Chausson for his Trois lieder, poesie de C. Mauclair, musique d'Ernest Chausson (Paris: Beaudoux, 1897). Songs on Mauclair's poems, with piano, were written by at least seven composers, fondly remembered in Servitude, pp. 220-21, especially Chausson, Gustave Charpentier and Gabriel Fabre. The first listing of these settings is probably that of Van Bever and Leautaud, Poetes d'aujourd'hui, II, 4.
(17) Servitude, pp. 224-25. The Concerts populaires de musique classique were founded by the Parisian Jules Pasdeloup (1819-1885) in 1861. His concert enterprises stumbled, Mauclair says, with Wagner's Rienzi at the Theatre lyrique in 1869; the orchestra bearing his name endured. His idea was taken up by Edouard Colonne (1838-1910) whose Concert National became the Concert Colonne and by Charles Lamoureux (1834-1899). Both these were musically experienced people from Bordeaux.
(18) Servitude, pp. 212-20. Mauclair never failed to remember female contributors to the arts and here recalls Marie Jaell, alongside Rubinstein, Pugno, and Ysaye, and the rising star Paderewski. See also Les Heros de l'orchestre, pp. 101-06.
(19) See Roger Nichols, Debussy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1973), p. 34; also Debussy's recollections in Debussy. Letters, selected and edited by Francois Lesure and Roger Nichols, trans. R. Nichols (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1987), esp. pp. 50-85 and 119-44.
(20) Histoire, p. 156. A brilliant stroke of Debussy's was his writing continuously for orchestra through the scenic intervals. The eighteen intervals in the original play had caused restlessness in audiences, especially in Brussels, a month after the first performance in Paris. Debussy invented a new kind of scenic, as well as musical, continuity, even while the action of the play was shortened. For this shortened text, or libretto, see, Pelleas et Melisande, Drame lyrique en 5 actes, tire du theatre de Maurice Maeterlinck, musique de Claude Debussy (Paris: Fasquelle, 1918).
(21) Histoire, p. 156. On p. 233 Mauclair insists: 'Dans toute la declamation de son Pelleas et Melisande, l'influence de Moussorgsky est incontestable.' On p. 245, this 'declamation' is described as 'une sorte de modelage du texte'.
(22) Mallarme had been thrilled by music's capacity for creating decor (Sicilian and sunny) in Debussy's L'Apresmidi d'un Faune: Prelude, which the composer invited the poet to hear on the piano at an unspecified date before the work's first orchestral performance in December 1894. See also Arthur B. Wenk, Claude Debussy and the Poets (Berkeley, LA, and London: University of California Press, 1976), p. 149. For the episodes relating to Mallarme, Wenk refers also, in note 1 to this page, to Mondor, 'Stephane Mallarme et Claude Debussy', Journal musical francais, 25 September 1951.
(23) Wenk, Claude Debussy and the Poets, Appendix A, provides an extensive list of these settings. This area of Debussy's work has also been more recently studied by Francois Lesure in Claude Debussy avant Pelleas ou les annees symbolistes (Paris: Klincksieck, 1993).
(24) See 'La Revue blanche', histoire, anthologie, portraits, ed. by O. Barrot and P. Ory, revised and extended edition (Paris: 10/18, 1994), pp. 175-82, 'Claude Debussy: "De quelques superstitions et d'un opera"'.
(25) Mallarme in interview with Jules Huret: see J. Huret, Enquete sur l'evolution litteraire (1891) (sixty-four interviews originally in L'Echo de Paris), ed. by Daniel Grojnowski (Vanves: Thot, 1982), 'M. Stephane Mallarme', p. 75. Also in Mallarme, OEuvres completes, Bibliotheque de la Pleiade, ed. by Henri Mondor and G. Jean-Aubry (Paris: Gallimard, 1945), p. 867.
(26) Suzanne Bernard's Mallarme et la musique (Paris: Nizet, 1959) gives a full account of these debates; see 'Le defi a Wagner', pp. 65-80, especially p. 85 and its note 1.
(27) By 'symphonie', Mauclair frequently understands 'orchestral music'. At a later date, before the visit of the Russian ballet in 1910, Diaghilev's operatic productions were acclaimed in Paris: Boris Goudonov (1907), Ivan the Terrible (1908), Prince Igor (1909). The personality of the bass Fyodor Chaliapin was part of this success story. On this kind of 'symphonie', see 'La musique russe' and 'La musique austro-hongroise' in Histoire, pp. 217-56 and 209-16 respectively.
(28) 'La vraie gloire de Franz Liszt', Revue hebdomadaire 10 (1911), 247-62.
(29) Histoire, p. 156. Liszt's 'paysages musicaux' are discussed on p. 179. On p. 175, Saint-Saens is admired for having rescued the memory of Liszt as a writer of orchestral music, a reputation that was for a while respectfully, but iniquitously, 'covered' under the laurels of the Romantic pianist.
(30) Histoire, p. 156. Ravel later composed a Tombeau de Couperin (1926). His earlier work is discussed in La Religion de la musique: 'Figures de musiciens: Maurice Ravel', pp. 144-46.
(31) Histoire, p. 157. Mauclair does not neglect events: he records Nijinski's creation of the Faune in ballet and Debussy's short score Jeux, written for this dancer. Mauclair's favourite among the Russians was Thamar Karsavina, who, while already popular in London and then in Paris, was especially acclaimed for the creation of the Ballerina opposite Nijinski's Petrushka at the Chatelet in June 1911.
(32) See Leon Guichard, La Musique et les lettres en France au temps du wagnerisme (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1963), p. 31.
(33) See Claude Digeon, La Crise allemande de la pensee francaise (1870-1914) (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1959), esp. p. 394. For Mauclair's account, see Histoire, p. 121.
(34) Mallarme, OEuvres completes, pp. 322-24: 'Parenthese' (1887). Here as in his mardis in 1885, the poet was still reserved about Wagner's aesthetic, but revelled in the presentation 'meme etrangere a nos espoirs'.
(35) The large provincial cities also saw a remarkable number of productions throughout the years, frequently in advance of Paris. See Guichard, La Musique et les lettres, pp. 246-49, Appendix II, 'Tableau chronologique des premieres representations wagneriennes en France' (after A. Loewenberg, Annals of Opera, 1597-1940 (Cambridge, 1943)).
(36) See also Emilien Carassus, 'Musicomanie: de Wagner a Debussy', in Le Snobisme et les lettres francaises de Paul Bourget a Marcel Proust, 1884-1914 (Paris: Armand Colin, 1966), pp. 297-312. Carassus is also interesting on 'Ballets russes', pp. 364-69. He indexes Mauclair more than forty times.
(37) Les Heros de l'orchestre: 'Emotions': 'Wagner apres la Guerre', pp. 211-18 (pp. 211, 217). The date of the essay is 1919. See previously in La Religion de la musique (1909), pp. 253-60, 'Wagner vu d'ici'.
(38) Franck was due to conduct the symphony in his home town of Liege when he became ill and died (1890). Albert Mockel, as editor of La Wallonie, published in Liege, wrote that Franck was just beginning to enjoy some fame amidst his cautious Belgian countrymen, when, with his death, 'l'on decouvrit son genie'. Quoted by Andrew Jackson Matthews, La Wallonie, 1886-1892 (New York: King's Crown Press, 1947), p. 61. The pianists Eugene and Theophile Ysaye had done much to foster Franck's music in Belgium, as Pugno had done internationally, while La Wallonie had long campaigned for Franck as well as for Wagner.
(39) Revue encyclopedique, 24 July 1897, pp. 585-88. The article lists Gervaert, Franck, E. Raway, P. Gilson, 'ces symphonistes considerables, et toute la belle ecole de Liege'; performers E. d'Albert, Mme Eugenie Dietz, Eugene Ysaye ('magistral'); the concerts of La Libre Esthetique presenting pieces from 'la jeune ecole francaise' and the Theatre de la Monnaie which produced many French operas. See also Histoire, 'L'Ecole belge', pp. 163-78, and La Religion de la musique, 'Deux impressions sur Cesar Franck', pp. 163-78.
(40) See G. Jean Aubry, Camille Mauclair, biographie critique, pp. 13-29, esp. p. 26. The novels discussed are: L'Orient vierge (roman epique de l'an 2000) (1897); Le Soleil des morts, roman contemporain (1899), in which Mauclair sets in motion 'l'effort de son altruisme; Les Meres sociales, roman contemporain, (1902); La Ville lumiere, roman contemporain (1904). All published by Ollendorf in Paris.
(41) Les Heros de l'orchestre, 'La musique et le coeur du peuple', pp. 135-43 (p. 142). See Albert Mockel, Propos de litterature in Fin de siecle et Symbolisme en Belgique, ed. by Paul Gorceix (Bruxelles: Editions Complexe, 1998), pp. 616, 618. Mauclair in his Histoire, p. 151, calls Gabriel Faure and Reynaldo Hahn 'renovateurs du lied' with particular reference to settings of Verlaine; he also remembers here Debussy and Gustave Charpentier.
(42) See C. H. C. Wright, The Background of Modern French Literature (Boston, MA: Ginn & Co. (The Athaenium Press), 1926), pp. 301-02, in a passage giving interesting insight into the salons of the belle epoque, their standing and their activities.
(43) H. Talvart and J. Place, Bibliographie des auteurs modernes de langue francaise (1801-1956), 22 vols (Paris: Editions de la Chronique des Lettres Francaises aux Horizons de France, 1928-1976), XIII (1956), 'Camille Mauclair', pp. 222-47 (p. 222).
<ADD> EDWARD KEARNS DURHAM </ADD>
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|Publication:||The Modern Language Review|
|Date:||Apr 1, 2001|
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