Link to home page

Revue française de musique

(Lyon, 1912-1914)

Prepared by Doris Pyee
Online only (2013)

The Revue française de musique (RFM), published from March 1912 until May 1914, took over the Revue musicale de Lyon (1903-1912). Each year, from October through April, RFM appears on a bi-monthly basis, on the first and the fifteenth of the month, and as a monthly publication in the summer. The complete run of RFM consists of thirty-five issues totaling 1,618 pages. Each volume measures 7.48 by 11.41 inches; each issue contains an average of forty-six pages.

The editor and regular contributor to the journal, Léon Vallas, was a well known music historian and teacher of music history at the University in Lyons, and the author of several books on major composers including Debussy, César Franck and Vincent d’Indy. In December 1913, Vallas appointed Michel-Dimitri Calvocoressi as co-editor. Calvocoressi, a polyglot, was a writer on music and critic who wrote several monographs and delivered lectures on French and Russian composers and their compositions.

The journal covers a wide variety of subjects including analytical articles about composers such as Albeniz and his contribution to the piano literature, Vincent d’Indy and his role as leader of the Schola Cantorum and Verdi on the occasion on the centennial of his birth. RFM also offers theoretical articles treating, for example, the structure of Witkowski’s Second Symphony and scholarly and historical articles, among them the publication of composer Adrien Boïeldieu’s correspondence.

The section “Chronique parisienne” [Parisian chronicle], contains reviews of recently performed lyrical works, at both the Académie nationale de musique and the Théâtre National de l’Opéra-Comique including Vincent d’Indy’s Fervaal (an attempt to create a French Tristan and Isolde), Debussy ’s Pelléas et Mélisande, and the premiere of Sylvio Lazzari’s La Lépreuse. Reviews of the operatic repertory offered at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées feature performances of Berlioz’ Benvenuto Cellini, Weber’s Der Freischütz and Fauré’s Pénélope. Contemporary French music concerts of works by Debussy, Dukas, Fauré, d’Indy and Saint-Saëns are treated regularly. The section “Grands Concerts” reviews numerous performances by the well-known Parisian Concerts Lamoureux, Concerts Sechiari and Concerts Colonne, featuring large-scale works such as César Franck’s Béatitudes and Vincent d’Indy’s Istar. The section “Les Petits Concerts” contains reviews vocal and piano recitals at Salle Pleyel or Salle Beethoven, with prestigious performers such as the pianists Alfred Cortot, Marguerite Long and Blanche Selva and the violinist Eugène Ysaÿe. Reviewed in May 1913, a special concert at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées featured Debussy, Dukas, Fauré, Saint-Saëns and d’Indy conducting their own works.

Lyons—the place of the journal’s publication—then France’s second largest city, has an active musical life taking place at the Grand-Théâtre and the Music Conservatory. RFM reviews the rich musical life in this and other provincial cities and generally groups them according to geographical locations: “Chronique de Provence” covers Marseille and the very active Théâtre de Monte-Carlo administered by Serge Gunsbourg, while “Chronique languedocienne” covers Toulouse, its Opera house, the Théâtre du Capitole, and its Music Conservatory as well as Montpellier and its Société Charles Bordes. Bordeaux with two associations organizing concerts: the Société Sainte-Cécile and the Cercle Philharmonique offered concerts with prestigious solosits such as Raoul Pugno, Selva, Ysaÿe and Samazeuilh. “Chronique normande” deals with Rouen, performances at the Théâtre des Arts and the numerous organ concerts in the famous Cathedral. A last section “Échos” offers a mixture of news from France and abroad, covering performances at La Scala in Milan, the Russian Ballets in London, Wagner performances in Bayreuth, and a German musical festival in Vienna.