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Revue et Gazette musicale de Paris

(Paris, 1835-1880)

Prepared by Doris Pyee-Cohen and Diane Cloutier
* (1999)

Throughout a large portion of the nineteenth century, Paris was regarded as the cultural and musical capital of Europe. Nowhere is this better reflected than in the pages of the Revue et Gazette musicale de Paris, one of the most important music journals published in the nineteenth century. From the outset the journal was hailed as a remarkable source of information on French musical culture—a theme echoed in the literature from Léon Escudier, to Pierre Larousse, to Arthur Pougin who referred to the journal’s “brilliant existence of almost a century,” during which “its authority and fame [was] most firmly and honorably established, not only in France but abroad.”

The RGM results from the merging of two journals: the Revue musicale published by Fétis from 1827 to 1835 and the Gazette Musicale de Paris which was created by Maurice Schlesinger and which appeared from 5 January 1834 to 25 October 1835. Fétis, “tired of the readers’s fickleness,” sold his journal to Schlesinger who joined the two titles to create the Revue et Gazette musicale de Paris. The entire publication consists of 47 volumes and music supplements: Album de chant (1842-43), Album de piano (1848-59) et Album de danses (1848-67).

Reviews occupy a significant place in the journal and deal with a wide range of subjects. Among these are performances at two of the principal Parisian lyrical theatres: the Opéra and the Opéra-Comique. During the first half of the nineteenth century, the Paris Opéra was the most brilliant in Europe. And of course its activities are carefully chronicled in the journal which regularly reviewed new works by Auber, Rossini, Halévy, Meyerbeer, Donizetti, and Verdi, as well as performances by the most famous singers of the day including Massol, Levasseur, Nourrit, Duprez, Henriette Sonntag, Mme Cinti-Damoreau and Pauline Viardot. At the Opéra-Comique we read reviews of works by Ambroise Thomas, Auber, Adam, as well as Meyerbeer, and, at the Théâtre-Italien works by Rossini, Donizetti and Bellini performed by Tamburini, Rubini, Santini, Ivanov, Lablache and Giuditta Pasta. The opérette, the vaudeville and opéra-bouffe performed at the Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens, Théâtre des Variétés, Théâtre du Vaudeville and Théâtre de la Renaissance also receive attention as do ballets with dazzling performances by Grisi, Taglioni, Essler, Petipa, Cerrito and Perrot.

There are also numerous reports on activities at the Paris Conservatory (competitions, awards, the Société des concerts) and chamber music performances in salons by, among others, Baillot, Lebouc, Vieuxtemps, Alard, Franchomme, Maurin, Chevillard, Mas, and Sabatier. Reviews also deal with concerts of Berlioz’s Société philharmonique (1850-51), of the Société Sainte-Cécile (1849-56), and those conducted by Pasdeloup (from 1852) and Lamoureux (from 1860). Popular music is also treated: Valentino’s Concerts promenades (1837-41), Musard’s balls (1835-37), concerts in public gardens (Jardin Turc, the Tuileries and the Champs-Élysées) and Arban’s concerts in the Casino on Cadet street.

Other prominent elements discussed include the development of instrument making (Érard, Pleyel, Sax, and Herz, for example), military music, the expositions nationales des produits de l’industrie in Paris in 1844 and 1849; and, the universal exhibitions in London in 1851 and 1862 and those in Paris in 1855, 1867 and 1878. The numerous fine arts salons are also featured with particular attention given to portraits and sculptures of instrumentalists, singers and composers. Music in the provinces is represented as well, and, particularly the philharmonic societies, musical circles, festivals, theatres and other institutions active in Rouen, Bordeaux, Lille, Lyon, Marseille and Toulouse. Among foreign cities, London gets the greatest coverage. Its theatres (Her Majesty’s Theatre, the Royal Italian Opera at Covent Garden, the Drury Lane Theatre), the Crystal Palace, and their productions are reviewed in detail. Other foreign musical news comes from Berlin, Florence, Milan, Vienna, Madrid, St. Petersburg and North America through foreign correspondents and the borrowing of excerpts from the local press.

RGM’s articles treat a multitude of topics ranging from theory (notably on ancient music), to methodology, pedagogy, history and research. They also consist of biographies, studies of composers (Gluck, Spontini, Rossini, etc.) and musical genres. The strong administrative centralization of the period is reflected in reports about administrative decisions and laws affecting cultural life: censorship, freedom of theatres, budgets allocated to culture, etc.

More than one hundred and thirty names of contributors are associated with the journal. And, in the main, they are the most celebrated writers on music of the period. These incude Adolphe Adam, Gottfried-Engelbert Anders, Charles Bannelier, François Berton, Hector Berlioz, Henri Blanchard, Maurice Bourges, Castil-Blaze, Adrien de La Fage, Émile Mathieu de Monter, Antoine Elwart, François-Joseph Fétis, Halévy, Jules Janin, Georges Kastner, Franz Liszt, Jean-François Lesueur, Joseph Mainzer, Adolphe-Bernard Marx, Édouard Monnais alias Paul Smith, Joseph d’Ortigue, Henry Panofka, Arthur Pougin and J. G. Siegfried.

* Hard bound with