Music! It is the great pleasure of this city, the great occupation of the drawing-rooms, which have banished politics, and which have renounced literature, from ennui. Jules Janin, An American in Paris, 1843 Afternoon and evening entertainments in the drawing rooms of the aristocracy and upper middle classes were a staple of cultural life in nineteenth-century Paris. Music was often a feature of these occasions and private salons provided important opportunities for musicians, especially singers, to develop their careers. Such recitals included excerpts from favourite operas, but also the more traditional forms of French song, the romance and its successor the mélodie. Drawing on extensive research into the musical press of the period, David Tunley paints a vivid portrait of the nineteenth-century Parisien salons and the performers who sang in them. Against this colourful backdrop, he discusses the development of French romantic song, with its hallmarks of simplicity and clarity of diction. Combined with Italian influences and the impression made by Schubert's songs, the French romance developed into a form with greater complexity - the mélodie. Salons, Singers and Songs describes this transformation and the seeds it sowed for music by later composers such as Fauré, Duparc and Debussy.
'Tunley makes a unique contribution by investigating the only hard evidence (outside of private diaries) about the music performed at these salons and the singers who sang them: articles in music journals. … appendixes provide a fascinating variety of pertinent material.' Choice '… a handy way by which to get a glimpse at this important area of French cultural life from a healthily broad aesthetic perspective.' H-France Reviews 'This is an excellent background guide to French song with efficient footnotes and appendices…' The Singer '… this book offers essential historical, social, and aesthetic context for understanding that elegant and musically enthusiastic period… enhances our understanding of a vital milieu and its vocal music. David Tunley deserves thanks for his advocacy of this overlooked domain, and Ashgate earns accolades for championing French music.' Notes '… crammed with scholarly erudition and the result of enormous and painstaking research. It is an excellent starting point for anyone wishing to enquire into this aspect of French musicology, since the excellent bibliography is invaluable.' Nineteenth-Century Music Review
Contents: Introduction; Musical Paris; The salons and their music; Singers in the salons; The all-pervasive romance; The romance and Romanticism; Paris discovers the songs of Schubert; Romance into Mélodie; Reaching out to full bloom; Postscript; Appendices; Bibliography; Index.