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Le Diapason. Revue musicale de Bruxelles

(Brussels, 1850-1852)

Prepared by Doris Pyee
1 volume (2010)

Le Diapason. Revue musicale de Bruxelles was published weekly by Schott in Brussels from 21 February 1850 until 19 February 1852. It consists of three volumes containing one hundred and three issues totalling 401 pages. Outside Belgium, the journal had offices in London and Mainz where subscriptions were could be purchased. In spite of its short existence Le Diapason deserves our attention, not only because it was the first Belgian journal entirely dedicated to music, but also because it was highly praised for its critical content and reviews of contemporary works. Having correspondents in the provinces and abroad, the journal reviewed noteworthy musical events in Belgium, France, Germany, Austria, England, the United States and Russia.

Musical life in Brussels was extremely active during this period. The city was the home of three opera companies, the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie and two Italian theatres. Each is studied in detail in the journal. Brussels also housed the country’s most eminent institutions: the Royal Music Conservatory and the Association of Musican Artists; their concerts as well receive regular attention.

In the main, musical activities in other Belgian cities—the conservatories, casinos and royal theaters—are commented on in detail, whether it is the Cercle artistique de Liège, the Théâtre royal de Gand or the Ostende Casino. Besides the major cities, the bands and choral associations in small cities and villages partake in musical life and receive attention in the journal. Among news from abroad, Paris have a special importance: the Opéra, Opéra-Comique and the Théâtre-Italien, as well as the various concert societies are reviewed in detail; as is London’s rich lyrical and musical season. Belgian national pride is expressed in reviews of works by Belgian composers and the performances of Belgian soloists abroad. Thus the performances of Grisar’s Les Porcherons at the Paris Opéra-Comique are treated, as well as concerts by pianist Achille Desvignes in The Netherlands and those of Vieuxtemps at the Théâtre des Arts in Rouen.

Apart from reviews Le Diapason contains theoretical and historical articles of interest. Special attention is given to church music, and a number of articles deal with Belgian organ making, Gregorian chant and neumatic notation.

Few articles are signed, however François-Joseph Fétis, the distinguished Belgian musicologist, and head of the Brussels Royal Music Conservatory Concerts signed two articles in the journal.