Debussy (Folio Biographies) (French Edition)


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Mallarmé's Tuesdays |

Published by Dover Publications Arranged by John Thompson. Published by Willis Music For cello and piano. Single piece and set of performance parts. Introductory text, performance notes, bowings and fing Standard notation does not include words to the songs. Arranged by Allan Small. Thematic index does not include words to the songs. About Claude Debussy Among the most important 20th century composers, and the most influential.

Often dubbed a musical impressionist , but his music always has a strong sense of form. Claire De Lune Piano Solo. Children's Corner " For the Piano. Suite Bergamasque " Piano Solo. Syrinx for Flute Solo La flute de Pan. Code examines the relationship between Mallarme and Debussy through "L'apres-midi d'un faune.

He then argues that Debussy's Prelude "reads" this virtual book by making corresponding shifts in orchestration in structural places that match, with unusual numerical precision, the "virtual book" that he has uncovered in the poem. His analysis of Debussy draws several exact parallels between individual measures in the Prelude and specific lines of text in Mallarme's original. By expressly lining up particular measures in the Prelude with passages in the poem, Code's analysis is a more elegant version of the mimetic model that has been used by other writers to align music and verse lines in the Prelude.

Although he does not explicitly state it, his idea of a virtual book in the Faun poem seems designed to evoke Le Livre, Mallarme's unfinished "Great Work. Instead, if Un coup de des is an accurate example of the kind of writing that Le Livre would contain, the actual spacing of the text and its actual pagination would become significant elements, and the virtual elements they imply would not be structures inside the book—these would be explicit—but things external to it, particularly theatre and drama, which Le Livre was intended to replace.

Of all of Mallarme's works, "L'apres-midi" stands somewhat apart from Le Livre. University of California Berkeley A similar argument is presented in an article in the Journal of the American Musicological Society. See Code, "Hearing Debussy reading Mallarme: In her book Mallarme and Debussy: Unheard Music, Unseen Text, Elizabeth McCombie has called for an approach to music and text relationships in Mallarme and Debussy that abandons the notion of imitation.

In its place, she argues for a more flexible approach that is neither properly literary criticism nor musicology, but a "mobile textual approach that is able to reconstruct the particular force of the intermediate ground [between music and literature] and its underlying dialogue of slippages and collusions, while at the same time insisting on the independence of the arts. Mallarme and Debussy are test cases for this language, which is drawn in part from Mallarme's own critical writings and from other sources only tangentially related to the subject, like the works of Boulez, whose debt to both Mallarme and Debussy does not necessarily make his aesthetic relevant to a study of the two.

McCombie's work is strongly influenced by Roger Pearson's homophonic approach to Mallarme's poetry. For this reason, she is sensitive to the phonetic aspects of Mallarme's verse, and particularly to moments where common phonemes unite various key words in some of Mallarme's poems. Unheard Music, Unseen Text Oxford: Clarendon Press, , xvi. In other places, McCombie's observations seem forced, as when she analyses an excerpt from "Herodiade. In the 'Ouverture' d'Herodiade the simultaneous presentation and cancellation of an image and the multiplication of interpretative possibilities surrounding certain words creates an overdetermination of signification: Abolie, et son aile affreuse dans les larmes Du bassin, aboli, qui mire les alarmes, De l'or nu fustigeant l'espace cramoisi, Une Aurore a, plumage heraldique, choisi Notre tour cineraire et sacrificatrice This passage creates points of immobility through magnetic pulls of attraction and repulsion.

The semantic space opened up by the initial act of repression or abolishing 'Abolie' is drowned again by its pursuit of a partner. The feminine 'Abolie' finds its mirroring reflection in the masculine version in line 2. The repetition both fills the emptiness created by the opening, in a matching sonority that has the effect of a double negative, and reiterates the sense of emptiness in a string of negative statements.

Finding a masculine equivalent amounts to a reciprocal cancelling-out, yet the partnership gives birth to an overload of reflections in the line-final rhymes 'cramoisi', 'choisi'. Sound patterns offer the promise of possible thematic centres, refuges from the pull between volume and emptiness. Yet to follow the path suggested by the phonetic patterning is to be misled.

They are loci of stabilizing and destabilizing reflection, pools of verbal heterogeneity. The abolished pool is and is not reflecting 'les a' of'aboli e ' 'dans les larmes', mire les a-larmes'. Here, the masculine-feminine pairing of aboli e is certainly relevant to Mallarme's prosody and the excerpt's negative semantic message.

The passage can also and more simply be interpreted thus: The gold and crimson of dawn disappear 'abolie' as the sun rises, in a common Mallarmean theme of self-consumption. Its wing-like streaks are reflected in the pool, where they are also disappearing. This disappearance reflects our own fears about the impermanence of physical reality life, death, etc.

This phonetic game is not all-encompassing, nor is it meant to be. When it comes to the actual relationship between Debussy's music and Mallarme's poetry, there are some gaps in McCombie's work. Of the four Debussy songs that set Mallarme poems, she examines only Soupir and Eventail in detail. Instead, when she treats Debussy's music, she prefers to deal with other works not specifically related to Mallarme: La mer, Jeux, and some of the piano Preludes. Rather than looking for the actual intermediate ground between Debussy and Mallarme, these studies are more concerned with the interaction of music and poetry in general.

Yet again there is no particular reason to suggest that the composition of Jeux owes any particular debt biographical, technical or otherwise to Mallarme's poem. It is possible to cite numerous examples of discontinuous musical textures in twentieth-century music that would match up equally well, by McCombie's own criteria, with Un coup de des. The only possible reason for the comparison of these two works must then rest on the tacit assumption that Berman also makes: In order to find an alternative to the various, essentially mimetic approaches described above, we must strike a balance between understanding what Debussy's setting of a Mallarme poem attempts to do, and how this reads through and across what the original poem attempts to And unless Debussy had seen the original edition of Un coup de des in the journal Cosmopolis—which differs significantly in graphic appearance from Mallarme's intentions—he likely would not have known the poem until at least , when Mallarme's collected works were published.

This requires a detailed understanding of Mallarme's poetry, particularly the ways that it differs from his contemporaries. For this reason, I now turn to Mallarme's works. The breadth and depth of this critical tradition far exceeds the space available in this forum to treat them fully. For this reason, I will only mention those works most relevant to my project. Several exegetical studies have shed much light on the question of meaning in Mallarme's oeuvre.

Nizet, ; Austin and Mondor, eds. A l l subsequent references to Mallarme's correspondence shall use the abbreviation Corr. An exegesis New Haven: Scriverny Press, ; Mallarme's Prose Poems: He deduces the signification of letters from their use in Mallarme's oeuvre as a whole, with pride of place given to Un coup de des. He then shows how, in various poems, Mallarme reinforces the semantic message of the poems by expressing them through words that contain a conspicuous number of a particular letter or phoneme. Occasionally, Cohn argues that the letter content of a passage modifies, or even contradicts, its semantic meaning.

Cohn's theory of letters is laid out most clearly in Un coup de des: An exegesis, which is an enlargement of his doctoral thesis, but the strategy informs virtually all of his subsequent work on Mallarme. Guy Michaud's Mallarme is organized as a biography but its true value lies in his thoughtful and detailed explications of Mallarme's poems. More recently, Bertrand Marchal published Lecture de Mallarme, an exegetical study of the major poems, in which he summarizes' much of the work of previous critics like Emile Noulet and A.

Marchal's approach is mainly semantic, and he does not generally treat the prosodic elements of the poems as particularly significant. Jean-Pierre Richard's L'univers imaginaire de Mallarme is an intellectual topography of Mallarme's poetry. Reacting against Richard, Jacques Derrida has called into question the very notion of thematic criticism in Mallarme, suggesting instead in "The Double Session" that Mallarme's writing is essentially a-referential; that it sets up a series of intra- and inter-textual networks that constantly refer to other writings Bertrand Marchal, Lecture de Mallarme: Poesies, Igitur, Un coup de des Paris: Edition du Seuil, Robert Greer Cohn has also written extensively on Mallarme's thought.

For him, Mallarme's essential innovation was to modify the Hegelian dialectic to include a fourth pole, which he calls "antisynthesis. Although he believes that there is still a singular absolute meaning in a Mallarme poem as does Richard , Cohn's own tetrapolar schematic comes very close to Derrida's notion of "undecidability" in Mallarme.

Although Mallarme's critical essays are usually cited in support of a particular exegetical point in a poem, there are also important studies dedicated to the essays themselves. A Guide and Commentary explicates the essays collected in Divagations Cohn's work is nearly as difficult to navigate as the original Mallarme essays, but offers a way through the texts that is indispensable for anyone encountering these works for the first time. A Guide and Commentary New York: A new translation of Divagations by Barbara Johnson was published too late to be incorporated into this study, but should be consulted by those interested in these works.

See Mallarme, Divigations, trans. Finally, Mallarme's unique use of the French language is explored by Gerard Genette in his brilliant book Mimologics. He locates Mallarme's particular brand of Cratylism in the context of numerous theories of the French language that engage this particular type of mimology. Ultimately, Genette argues that Mallarme sees the French language as derived from an original language that was essentially mimetic. This original language has been lost through the passage of time, through the grafting of one language into another, to the point that contemporary language no longer functions mimetically.

Further, this language—or fragments of it—can be discovered in contemporary language. Genette claims that Mallarme's Cratylism is essentially worked out at the level of the verse line in his poetry, where various rhyme and rhythmic gestures compensate for the mimetic defects of contemporary French. The verse line is very important for Mallarme, but Genette's dismissal of the word as an important element in this regard seems unnecessary. On one hand, he is a word-smith, and his poems have an acoustic reality that cannot be denied.

Even a silent reading of Mallarme's poetry calls forth the sonorous nature of his words, words that have a particularly poignant sound. On the other hand, Mallarme works with meanings. The Evolution of a Literary Language Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Voyages in Cratylusland, trans. University of Nebraska Press, , What separates Mallarme from the other poets of his generation is not the complexity of his poetry: Indeed, Mallarme always maintained that his poems were clear not easy to anyone who knew how to read.

The particular quality that distinguishes Mallarme from his contemporaries is the exceptional care with which he employs the sounds of words so that they have a significant relationship to the semantic meaning that the poem carries, and by extension with its analogical meanings as well. Throughout his correspondence and critical writings, Mallarme constantly equates this aspect of his poetic practice with music, using musical metaphors and imagery to describe the phonetic relationship between words and referring to his poems as "musical.

Robert Greer Cohn argues that Mallarme gives a particular semantic meaning to individual letters, a meaning that adheres not only to their sound but also their graphic shape as well. Roger Pearson's interest in phonemes is directed mainly towards homophony, which Pearson posits as essential to Mallarme's pursuit of linguistic mastery in his poems. The Development oja Poetic Art Oxford: By homophony, Pearson refers to homonyms - words that sound the same or nearly so but have different meanings.

There are moments in Pearson's work, however, where he sees the formal manipulations of individual phonemes for their own sake, rather than in the service of an alternate semantic reading. Graham Robb sees Mallarme's use of phonemes through the lens of French prosody.

These echoes, drawn from key words or images in the poem, bind the work together and are responsible for the unique and often bizarre sonic landscapes of Mallarme's poems. Isolated references to music can be found in all three approaches, but none of them demonstrate how Mallarme describes the phonetic relationships of language as music in a systematic way.

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For Mallarme, aural similarity between words including rhyme, assonance, alliteration, and other resemblances indicates a hidden connection between them. Mallarme sees in these various forms of rhyme an outline of the essential unity of language in its original state. He imagines a single generative language that is the unique source of contemporary dialects, a language in which there was no distinction between poetry and language since poetry was language and language was poetry. At some point in the distant past, this original language was broken apart, scattered across and inside the world's languages through evolution, war, cross-cultural influence, and similar factors.

Modern languages are therefore broken: This defect of language creates the need for the poet, whose purpose is to reconstruct this generative language through an exploration of 5 2 Robb uses the term "prosody" to refer to the conventional codes of French poetry that Mallarme both knew and exploited in his poems.

I will use the term in the same sense throughout the present study. Yale University Press, , This, at its core, is Mallarme's notion of musical language, and the basis for virtually all of his later writings on music and poetry. If, as Robb asserts, Mallarme had a preference for words that rhyme with few or no others, this may have been because the essential unity of language could best be reconstructed through these words. A word that rhymes with a few others, say a dozen or less, gives a relatively small group of semantic, etymological, orthographic and ideographic meanings from which to extract a unifying thread.

The first four of these are used as rhymes in two of Mallarme's poems: Among these five words, various semantic connections can be drawn. The intoxication of "ivre" is caused by the inner life of words "vivre" , which are immobilized "givre" in contemporary language until freed by poetry "delivre". The relation between the phonetic structure of words and their signification is the problem that Mallarme confronts in Les mots anglais, where he attempts to reconstruct, in the English language, the "relationships between the total signification and the letter" that point to 5 4 By ideographic, I refer to the meanings that could be adduced from the shapes of letters in these groups of words.

See Phillipe Martinon, Dictionnaire des rimes francaises, precede d'un traite de versification Paris: These words call out to one another in constellation, suggesting a common origin that is more than etymological, but points instead to an original language. Yet this reconstruction fails, by and large, to produce stable significance for practically any letter, precisely because the proliferation of rhyme gathers so many diverse meanings around each initial consonant position that the various constellations cannot all be reconciled.

The essential plurality of language casts a peculiar importance therefore on the isolated words, those for which Mallarme finds no significant constellation. Nevertheless, Mallarme believes that these isolated words include some of the most important ones in the language. Mallarme claims that it is the writer's duty to reconstruct these alliterative constellations, "to relate some terms whose unity contributes all the more to the charm and to 58 the music of language. However, by trying to force a stable signification retroactively on letters from Un coup de des backwards onto the larger oeuvre , his system becomes somewhat dogmatic, with the individual letters and phonemes speaking the same message in a dizzying variety of contexts.

Robb's approach is more flexible, and allows him to respond to the actual constellations that Mallarme's poems bring together without constantly relying on an a priori signification. In this way, Mallarme emerges from and participates in a long tradition of nineteenth-century French poetry that found inspiration in musical works, notably Baudelaire and Verlaine. By the s, he argued that his poetry was more "musical" than sounding music itself, and the confrontational nature of his attitude toward music sets him somewhat apart from many of his contemporaries.

Since it is my purpose to trace the interaction of Mallarme's poetic "music" with Debussy's settings of his poems, critical works that examine the role of music in Mallarme's oeuvre are particularly relevant to my thesis. Perhaps the most comprehensive treatment of music in Mallarme to date is a dissertation by Suzanne Bernard, Mallarme et la musique! Bernard recounts Mallarme's attendance at the Concerts Lamoureux, which she argues permitted Mallarme to "refine his ideas on music and on the relationships existing between music and literature.

Some of her best insights relate to the essentially interconnected nature of all things in Mallarme's aesthetic, and the value that he assigns to music in this process. However, Bernard's treatment of Mallarme's "musicalization" of poetry is less successful. For her, Mallarme's poetic music is found primarily in the typographical 5 9 Suzanne Bernard, Mallarme et la musique Paris: Nizet, 6 0 Ibid.

She calls this a formal architecture evident on the surface of the page and in the ordering of the book of verse, which she compares to the physical disposition of the orchestra on stage. Yet Bernard constantly lapses into vague metaphor: If the sole requirement for the "musicality" of a poem is that it combines multiple themes, then virtually any poem would be musical. More interesting is Bernard's treatment of music in the then-recently published sketches for Le Livre, Mallarme's unfinished masterwork. These are then varied and repeated, brought together to display the unity that underlies their apparent diversity.

She asks "What does Mallarme do [in these "equations"] if not combine themes, forms, like a composer? Bernard concludes that Le Livre represents Mallarme's effort to fuse the mobility inherent in music with the permanence of literature. This mobility is enacted as a reading strategy in which "vertical" and "horizontal" readings of the text produce various nuances of meaning comparable to music. In this text, one can see the "poet's persistent desire to 'take back' from Music that which seems to be the very essence of this sonorous form, its movement and the perpetual transformation of its themes.

As we shall see, Mallarme's poetry does in fact require such a novel approach to reading, although it need not be restricted to Le Livre or Un coup de des, but usefully informs his entire oeuvre. Phillipe Lacoue-Labarthe also sees Mallarme through a Wagnerian lens.

Reverie of a French Poet" [] and "Music and Letters" [], everything, or almost everything, was collected and comprehended in a project that seems to have found its origins in the 'singular challenge' launched by Wagner. Lacoue-Labarthe recognizes that Mallarme's ultimate rejection of music in favour of poetry is based on the idea that actual concerted music 6 8 Bernard, Mallarme et la musique, Figures of Wagner, tr. Stanford University Press, , He concludes that, for Mallarme, "[v]ersification is thus the restitution of Literature as archi-music—this archi-music of which 73 music is itself only the imitation or the too sensual presentation.

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Mallarme does see his poetry replacing orchestral music with the silenced "music" of written verse. However, by setting aside issues of rhyme in its most expanded sense and valorizing rhythm, Lacoue-Labarthe does not consider one of Mallarme's most crucial poetic techniques: And since, finally, Lacoue-Labarthe provides no example of how one might read Mallarme's poetic works in light of the "archi-music" created by rhythm, his argument never leaves the theoretical plane, as if Mallarme were first and foremost a philosopher and not a poet. Several useful contributions to the study of music in Mallarme have also been made by musicologists.

In his article "Sea-Changes: Here, Lacoue-Labarthe invokes Derrida's notion of arche-writing. See Derrida, OfGrammatology trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, , The portion dealing with Mallarme can be found on pages However, the example he chooses for this is somewhat disappointing. In "L'apres-midi d'un faune," McCalla identifies a "literary counterpoint" within the poem's structure between pairs of literary themes: More promising is McCalla's description of Mallarme's oeuvre as a reduction of language that concentrates on "constellations" of inter-related words.


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His brief analysis of Mallarme's "Sainte" traces the way that parallel words and images from the first half of the poem are made to disappear in the second half, and the peculiarly static quality that this creates in the work. He shows how Mallarme's syntax and the semantic plurality of some of the poem's key words make it more allusive than the poetry of his contemporaries.

He calls this process of evocation and disappearance in the inexhaustible play of relationships the "music of 77 silence. One of the few scholars to fully recognize both Mallarme's attraction to and antipathy towards music is Mary Breatnach. In a study of the poet's influence on the composer Pierre Boulez, she criticizes approaches to Mallarme that "mistake the poet for some sort of composer manque. A Study in Poetic Influence Aldershot: Ashgate, , Occasionally, she alludes to the importance of the sound of words and their individual phonemes, although this notion is pushed much farther by other critics.

Perhaps her most valuable insight, from my point of view, is her recognition that Mallarme uses the term "music" to imply, at various times, either the sounding notes of instruments and voices or a series of essentially mental relationships. However, she insists on minimizing the role of sound in the second of these cases, claiming that Mallarme makes "a distinction But by not considering the materiality of Mallarme's language—the sound of the words themselves—she misses an important aspect of Mallarme's thinking about music.

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At the most basic level, a poet uses words as sounds. Everything flows from his ability to see connections in sound between words that can also be arranged to mean something semantically. For a poet who believed in the supremacy of poetic language as firmly as Mallarme did, and played with phonemes and other sound patterns rhythm for one as regularly, it is inconceivable that the sound of words did not matter to him. That this aspect is in dialogue with the other elements that Breatnach identifies is certainly true, but our 8 1 Breatnach, "Music and Mallarme's Aesthetic," For Mallarme, the goal was to create poetry of such purity that it would itself be music.

In one of his last published descriptions of the Le Livre, Mallarme claimed that "Poetry, close to the idea, is Music, par excellence—admits no inferiority. Le Livre is to be nothing less than the tracing of all relationships of the universe contained in the book, that singular text that has been the unconscious effort of all writers throughout history.

It is not exactly that Mallarme values silence, but rather that he values that which once sounded but has been silenced through writing. Debussy does not argue for a systematic poetification of music, nor does he seek to replace poetry with music entirely. Instead, he is interested in the simultaneous presence of these two signifying systems, these two artistic "languages," and the ways that they write and read over one another in the shared space of song. So when a Mallarmean text comes into contact with a piece of music by Debussy, there is, necessarily, a complex interaction between the two systems that includes moments of congruity and discord, imitation and ambivalence.

By studying the moments of tension and accord in these works, it should be possible to arrive at an accurate understanding of Mallarme's importance for Debussy's musical style. In this study, I have restricted myself to examining only those works in which Debussy's music explicitly engages a Mallarme poem. In this way, I hope to avoid falling into the trap that awaits more general stylistic readings of Debussy's larger output: I do not mean to argue that comparisons between Debussy's compositional style in general can not be made with features of Mallarme's poetic style, or that such comparisons are not fruitful.

However, when it comes to understanding which features of Debussy's style can be traced back to his contact with Mallarme's poetry, we must clearly distinguish between similarity and influence, even if that influence is manifested in a modification or outright rejection of the original source. In those works where the composer has authorized a comparison, whether by bringing music and text together in song, invoking poetry in the titles of pieces, or referring to a literary work in a body of paratextual evidence letters, marginalia, etc.

In all other cases, 38 we must be extremely cautious to avoid confusing similarity in the mind and ear of the listener for imitation or influence in the compositional process. In order to fully understand the artistic relationship between Debussy and Mallarme, the limits of their mutual understanding must be articulated. First, the central features of Mallarme's creative enterprise must be described. This must include not only the aesthetic positions outlined in Mallarme's critical essays, but also their specific application in his poetry.

My approach to Mallarme's poetry is, therefore, situated somewhere between Cohn's and Robb's. Taking my cue from Mallarme's method in Les mots anglais, I look for coincidences of sound and sense that Mallarme consciously exploits in his poetry. In many cases, these relationships are introduced through end-rhyme and reinforced in the surrounding syllables of the verse; however, there are several cases documented by Robb in which a word with no real rhyme appears in the middle of a verse line, scattering its phonemic elements across the poem.

From the sound-sense relationship in these clusters, I read outwards to the apparent significance of the poem, which is always in a dialectic relationship with its phonemic qualities. Secondly, the works by Debussy that use or refer to a specific text by Mallarme must be examined to see whether Debussy responds in any meaningful way whether positively or negatively to the features of Mallarme's work and aesthetic. There are five such compositions: Apparition , Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune , and Trois poemes de Stephane Mallarme ; Soupir, Placet futile, Eventail. What emerges from this study is a more complex image of Mallarme and Debussy than has previously been put forward, one where the attraction, interaction and tension between music and poetry in their respective works stands as a microcosm of the larger relationship between Music and Language in general.

Whether he gained this understanding intuitively through an attentive reading of his poetry, gleaned it through repeated readings of Mallarme's critical essays, heard it at the mardi gatherings, or pieced it together from the opinions of those in the Parisian literary milieu, close readings of Debussy's Mallarme pieces show the composer by turns embracing and rejecting Mallarme's poetry, trying to find a musical counterpart for these poems that was more than just a bad pun. What emerges is an approach to text setting in which the essential qualities of the poems are retained inside the songs through a vocal line that acts like a recitation, while the surrounding musical lines speak with their own logic and purpose.

First, I locate Mallarme's essential conflict with music in the context of his spiritual-epistemological crises in the late s, fully fifteen years before his "discovery" of Wagner. Shared phonemes between words—rhyme in its most elemental form—trace hidden relationships between ideas and objects in the world. These relationships point to an original language in which sound and sense were in perfect accord.

Therefore, thought and language were also in perfect accord, and language was the expression of thought in the world. While some of his close friends—Villiers de L'Isle Adam, for example—had made the trip to Bayreuth, there is no indication in the frequent letters between the two that they ever spoke about Wagner's music, much less his more theoretical discussions of drama, poetic language, Stabreim, etc. As Genette has shown, many of these ideas stretch back to Plato and run through French theories of language for hundred of years before Mallarme.

Very few people Genette and Jacques Michon excepted have tried to see Mallarme's treatment of language in light of these traditions.

University of Montreal Press, The unity of sound and sense in language was fractured and scattered across and inside the world's languages through the passages of time, war and conquest, and linguistic evolution. The poet's task is to reunite these fragments of language in which sound and sense are conjoined, and to work thus towards uncovering the essential signification of phonemes and the letters of the alphabet charged to represent them.

Verse, which Mallarme understood broadly to include all forms of literature, 88 has always done this whether explicitly through rhyme or implicitly in prose. In the process, I draw on evidence from Mallarme's letters, sketches for a planned dissertation on the word published posthumously as "Notes sur le langage," and his explication of similar phonetic reconstructions in Les mots anglais.

I then turn to the more famous critical essays in order to show how consistently Mallarme sticks to his guns in the face of the Wagnerian movement. I also demonstrate how Mallarme's musical language functions in verse through a critical examination of selected poems, thereby grounding the more philosophical discussions that have received considerable critical attention in a poetic practice that has received relatively less attention. The remaining chapters examine all five of Debussy's compositions to Mallarme poems chronologically.

Chapter Two treats Debussy's early exposure to Mallarme, which resulted in the song Apparition Therein, I provide a summary of all of the Mallarme poems that we can reasonably assume that Debussy read to that point in time, and argue that his choice of "Apparition"—a poem in Mallarme's early style—shows a degree of ambivalence towards Mallarme's mature style. I then show how Debussy's harmonic language in the song is designed to respond analogically to the semantic meaning of the poem, but not necessarily to 8 8 This is Mallarme's position, expressed in many of the late essays, including "La Musique et les Lettres" OC II, Chapter Three offers a new and non-mimetic reading of the Prelude a I'apres-midi d'un faune Rather than following the poem line by line or section by section, I see the Prelude in the context of its origins as a theatrical production.

In late or early , Mallarme engaged Debussy to write an overture, and perhaps incidental music also, for an upcoming performance of "L'apres-midi d'un faune. Basically, I see the Prelude as a representation of the Idea of the poem rather than a representation of its text, for which Debussy's opening flute solo functions as an abstract musical symbol. The way that this melody and its important pitches recur throughout the Prelude is explained as an example of the arabesque, an enactment of essential processes of thought, which can also be traced in the poem and in Mallarme's aesthetic.

Chapter Four examines the Trois poemes de Stephane Mallarme , which represents Debussy's final engagement with Mallarme's poetry. In these songs, I show the degree to which Debussy understood the phonetic elements of Mallarme's style and how this awareness, along with more traditional notions of text-setting, shaped the individual compositions to allow the music of the poems to be audible inside the songs. I will also show moments where Debussy's music reads across Mallarme's texts, and moments when the reverse is also true.

In the process, I sketch the limits of the relationship between music and poetry in Debussy and Mallarme, and between the two arts more generally. Chapter One stands in a somewhat uncomfortable relationship to the other three. The ideas I explore there are necessary to establish Mallarme's basic attitudes towards music and language, and therefore inform all of the texts that Debussy set to some extent.

However, the extent to which Debussy knew about, understood, or agreed with Mallarme's theories is 42 impossible to establish directly, and must be inferred from the pieces he composed. For this reason, not every idea in Chapter One finds expression in the later chapters. The twin structure thus implied is, I think, emblematic of the way that music and text relate in these pieces in particular, and on more abstract levels. I hope that those with an interest in Mallarme will find some of the observations in this chapter useful on their own merits.

For those interested in Debussy, the later chapters offer some new insights into the music itself, and the way that it interacts with the texts. In this way, I hope to show that anyone who reads Mallarme patiently and carefully—as the poet demanded—may well draw conclusions similar to my own. I have also restricted myself to those texts that it is reasonable to assume that Debussy might actually have read i.

As such, it is reasonable to assume that Debussy would have had access to them from Mallarme himself, or from one of their several mutual friends and acquaintances. In their work, I continue to find revelations and new directions to pursue. In approaching Debussy's music, I use a rather free interpretation of traditional harmonic theory, Schenkerian perspectives and pc-set theory wherever they produce useful insights.

I have no particular theoretical position to espouse, nor do I believe that one particular 43 analytical technique is universally valid for Debussy's oeuvre. It seems to me that a composer who scorned system as thoroughly as Debussy cannot be completely explicated from any single perspective, and I freely admit that there are additional insights to be gained from analytical perspectives that I have not used here.

Music and poetry in Mallarmé and Debussy - UBC Library Open Collections

The techniques I use in the pages that follow simply seem to be the most effective ones to communicate the particular point I wish to make. There's a problem loading this menu right now. Get fast, free shipping with Amazon Prime. Get to Know Us.

Musical influence

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Debussy (Folio Biographies) (French Edition) Debussy (Folio Biographies) (French Edition)
Debussy (Folio Biographies) (French Edition) Debussy (Folio Biographies) (French Edition)
Debussy (Folio Biographies) (French Edition) Debussy (Folio Biographies) (French Edition)
Debussy (Folio Biographies) (French Edition) Debussy (Folio Biographies) (French Edition)
Debussy (Folio Biographies) (French Edition) Debussy (Folio Biographies) (French Edition)
Debussy (Folio Biographies) (French Edition) Debussy (Folio Biographies) (French Edition)

Related Debussy (Folio Biographies) (French Edition)



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