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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Musica : an early twentieth-century French music journal Biberdorf, Carla E.


Musica, a monthly music journal, was published in Paris by Pierre Lafitte from 1902 to 1914. The journal was exceptional for its use of iconography which supplemented the writings by numerous composers, performers, and critics of the day. It contains contributions by such well-known composers as Saint-Saens, Massenet, Bruneau, d'Indy, Faure, Debussy, and Messager. Performers to contribute articles included famed opera singers, cafe-concert celebrities, pianists, violinists, cellists, harpists, and dancers. Other articles were written by critics and professional journalists, many of whom contributed to a number of music periodicals. Among these are Henri de Curzon, Gabriel Prod'homme, M. D. Calvocoressi, Emile Vuillermoz, Michel-Gaston Carraud, and Adolphe Jullien. Much criticism was also written by Musica's editors Charles Joly, Georges Pioch, and the composer-critic Xavier Leroux. With its original material by composers, performers and critics, Musica emerges as a important source of information for the historian. Articles by composers deal with their lives, works, and contemporaries. Accounts by personal friends, acquaintances or relatives of composers provide further data on important figures such as Rossini, Adam, Franck, Reyer, Massenet, and Saint-Saens. Performance practises of the time are described by performers. Opera singers focused on character interpretation, and cafe-concert celebrities revealed their individual approaches to chanson. Proper technique is discussed by instrumentalists and illustrated in numerous photographs. Musica's iconography is also useful in determining contemporary costuming and staging in opera and ballet. Critical reviews supply the historian with descriptions of programs, performers, and concert locations. They also give an indication of the musical preferences of the era and public response to new compostions. This thesis is divided into five chapters delienated as follows. The first chapter introduces Musica and justifies a study of this periodical. Chapter two describes the journal's format and deals with the publisher. Chapter three focuses on Musica's contributors including editors, music critics, composers and performers. It also includes a discussion of articles written about composers and performers, complemented by relevant iconography. The final chapter demonstrates the relevance of Musica as a documentary source for the historian.

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