Document Type

Dissertation

Rights

This item is available under a Creative Commons License for non-commercial use only

Disciplines

Musicology

Publication Details

Successfully submitted for the award of MMus (Master of Music) to the Dublin Institute of Technology, 20 September, 2013.

Abstract

This dissertation proposes to consider the music of French composers Claude Debussy, Gabriel Fauré and Maurice Ravel written during the Great War, under tremendous professional, personal and cultural pressures. These pressures are examined largely through these composers’ correspondence and the writings of contemporary critics, composers and artists in the first two chapters; a selection of their output from the war years, in particular their piano works and their chamber music, is the subject of the third chapter. The aim of the dissertation is to reveal certain aspirations common to all three, aspirations that were motivated, dictated even, by the political and cultural context and powerful enough to sustain their musical creativity in traumatic times. These were: a) a return to the values of a French tradition heralded by contemporary scholars, critics and musicians around 1900, that of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries composers, of which Rameau had been the greatest representative; b) a desire to create a distinctly contemporary musical language that was appropriate for its time and reflected a cautious yet resolute positioning in the musical avant-garde; c) a yearning for artistic independence from constricting ideological discourses or aesthetic movements. The dissertation considers these wartime compositions under various perspectives: as an integral part of the war effort; as major contributions to the modern music scene of that period; as the culmination of the oeuvre of Debussy and Fauré since the last decades of the nineteenth century, and Ravel’s oeuvre since the early 1900s. It is hoped that it will open the door to a new interpretation of these works, that of compelling expressions of artistic escapism. VII

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