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Théâtres et concerts

(Paris, 1916-1917)

Prepared by Doris Pyee
Online only (2012)

Théâtres et Concerts [THC], a monhly publication of three issues, appeared from January 1916 until March 1916. The journal was probably published in Paris, although there is no indication of a publisher. Owing to the pressures of World War I, the printing was probably accomplished by volunteers. The first two issues (January and February 1916) are twenty-six pages long, while the third issue (March 1916) contains twenty-two pages for a total of seventy-four pages, each measuring 8.2 by 5.9 inches. There are few articles in THC; one mentions the teaching reform at the Paris Conservatory of Music, then headed by Gabriel Fauré. There are, however, many in- depth reviews.

This short-lived this journal is an important document as it contains an account of musical and theatrical activities during a period in which reviews are extremely rare in the daily press and other music journals. In spite of the ongoing war, cultural life in France was quite active and the journal reviews not only performances in Paris (in the major halls such as the Opéra-Comique, the Académie Nationale de Musique and the Salle Gaveau), but also contains news from provincial cities including Lyon, Marseille, Nice, Bordeaux, Toulouse and Rouen. Some new compositions were given first performances, including Xavier Leroux's Les Cadeaux de Noël and among popular works Erlanger’s opera Le Juif errant. Certain sections deal also with musical activities in the United States including the Russian Ballet and the New York Metropolitan Opera season, and performances in Boston where the opera company performed Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande and Charpentier’s Louise. Operatic activities and ballets in Russia are covered in both Moscow and Petrograd. French influence in Swedish cultural life is noticeable in reviews about the Stockholm Royal Opera House where Auber’s Fra Diavolo, Gounod’s Faust and Roméo et Juliette, Thomas’ Mignon and Bizet’s Carmen were staples of the repertory. The journal also deals with musical activities in other European countries, for example, England (London), Italy (Rome, Milan and Naples) and also Spain and Portugal.

Resistance against the German enemy prevails, especially in Brussels where the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie’s directors refuse to welcome the conductor Felix Weingartner and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Solidarity prevails: benefit concerts are organized by soprano Maria Barrientos for war victims and by the Russian Ballet for the British Red Cross. News from the Front and the trenches, where plays are organized, complete this overview of musical life during this most difficult period. Numerous photographs of singers, musicians and theatre directors are reproduced in THC.