La Chronique musicale

(Paris, 1873-1876)
Complete Introduction : French | English

Prepared by Donald G. Gíslason
1 volume 1 volumes (1988)

Arthur Pougin referred to La Chronique musicale as “a review published at a literary and artistic level until then unknown in the world” and as “an extremely useful publication in which excellent taste prevailed.” Founded and edited by Arthur Heulard, La Chronique musicale was published bi-weekly in Paris between July 1873 and June 1876. Its entire run is composed of sixty-six forty-eight page issues.

The contributors to this journal are among best-known and most knowledgeable writers on music of the period immediately following the Franco-Prussian war. These include the prominent librettist Charles Nuitter, composer and archivist Théodore de Lajarte, and historian and critic Adolphe Jullien, as well as Ernest Thoinan, P. Lacombe, Arthur Pougin, Gustave Bertrand, J.-B. Wekerlin, Ernest David, Daniel Bernard, Charles Soullier, Edmond Neukomm, Henry Cohen, Paulk Foucher, Louis Lacombe, Maurice Cristal and H. Lavoix fils.

Although the journal published many valuable reviews, its greatest strength lies in the enormous attention it paid to research on the history of music. The journal might well be considered amongst the earliest publications dedicated to musicology. Many issues begin with significant essays on historical aspects of music in France: a sketch on the musical press in France, the grandeur and decadence of Parisian lyric theaters, the founders of French opera, the concours of the Paris Conservatory, Wagnerianism in France, music at the Comédie-Française, Voltaire as librettist, the manuscript collection of Philidor housed at the Paris Conservatory and the foundations of the concert spirituel. Other issues include reports on the Conservatoire at Brussels, popular song in Russia, a history of the viola d’amore, music in Scandinavia, the origin and development of popular song, and acoustical curiosities. Attention is also paid to the great figures of nineteenth-century opera with a series studying, among others, the careers of Maria Malibran and Henriette Sontag.

Throughout the run generous space is given to signed reviews under the rubrics “Revue musicale”— which contains opinions on concerts and operas—and more specific rubrics “Revue des concerts” and “Revue des théâtres lyriques.” Concert reviews deal with solo, chamber, symphonic and choral music offered at various Parisian concert series: the Société classique, the Société des compositeurs de musique, the Concerts Danbé, the Concerts modernes, the Concerts national, the Concerts du Châtelet, the Concerts du Conservatoire, and the Concerts populaires de musique classique of Pasdeloup. The concert repertory is diverse and ranges from Handel’s Messiah to the most recent compositions of Massenet and Saint-Saëns. Operatic reviews are extensive and deal both with performances at the Théâtre de l’Opéra, Théâtre de l’Opéra-Comique, Théâtre-Italien, and with productions at other theaters such as the Menus-Plaisirs, and the Athénée. Coverage is given to the early operas of Massenet, Verdi’s works to Aida and the Requiem, revivals of Meyerbeer’s Robert le diable, Les Huguenots and Le Pardon de Ploërmel, and Gounod’s Faust. The debuts of new singers are noted. Although little is written about Wagner’s operas, attention is paid to the building of the theater at Bayreuth. Accusations of Wagnerianism are made against Flotow.