Contrepoints

(Paris, 1946-1953)

Prepared by Doris Pyee
Online only (2017)

Contrepoints. Une Revue de Musique paraissant chaque mois [Counterpoints: a monthly review of music; CTP] was published irregularly in Paris by Richard-Masse between January, 1946 and 1953. The journal comprises eight issues, totaling 840 pages. The number of pages in each issue varies between 100 and 139 pages for issues 1 through 7 and forty-eight pages for the last issue. Pages are printed in a single-column format with additional unnumbered pages of advertisements found at the beginning and end of the issues. Although CPT was short-lived, the exceptional abilities of its contributors and the wide variety of subjects treated make it an indispensable source to musicologists and researchers on music.

The chief editor was critic and musicologist Fred Goldbeck, Adviser for Music at the Radiotélévision Française. The editorial board consisted of an impressive group of writers: Charles Koechlin; Henry Barraud, Henri Martelli and Roland-Manuel, as well as the ethnomusicologist André Schaeffner and piano virtuoso and pedagogue Yvonne Lefébure. Marc Pincherle, musicologist and collector of musical manuscripts, joined this noteworthy group at a later date. In addition to members of the editorial board, contributors include composers representing a wide range of compositional trends: Olivier Messiaen, Pierre Boulez, Virgil Thomson and John Cage.

Each issue begins with feature articles dealing with a variety of topics: subjectivism and objectivism in music, music and pathos, performance and virtuosity and film music. Composers and music critics answer an inquiry on the place given to contemporary music in musical life after the Second World War. Some articles are historical in nature such as those about Louis XIII and music; musical forms in the eighteenth century, the genesis of Russian music; comparisons of music and poetry, music and dance; analyses of Schoenberg’s Piano Concerto; Malipiero’s Pause del Silanzio and Hindemith’s Ludus Tonalis. Others articles concentrate on the music of established composers such as Francis Poulenc, Erik Satie, Emanuel Chabrier, Darius Milhaud, Stravinsky, Bela Bartók, Samuel Barber, Modest Moussorgsky, Leos Janáček and Richard Strauss, as well as the “new generation”: André Casanova, Serge Nigg and René Leibowitz. An in-depth study of the role of composers in society entitled “Le musicien dans la cité” [The musician in the city] focuses on the impact of political regimes on music. In “Les Comptes d’Orphée” [The tales of Orpheus], Virgil Thompson explains the economic and creative role of the composer. There are also reviews: of concerts and festivals in major cities: Amsterdam, Aix-en-Provence, London, Salzburg, Besançon, Venice, and Berlin as well as book and record reviews. The June-August, 1951 issue dedicated to J. S. Bach contains an interesting comparison between Bach’s Violin Concerto and Stravinsky’s Dumbarton Oaks Concerto, as well as a comparative study of Bach and Wagner.