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La Vie musicale angevine

(Angers, 1942-1947)

Prepared by Doris Pyee
Online only (2014)

La Vie musicale angevine [VAN], a bi-monthly music journal was published in Angers (a city often referred to as the "Athens of the West") in seventy issues from March through July and October through December, 1942, and thereafter from January through July and October through December, 1943 to 1946, and once only in June, 1947. Each issue contains sixteen pages printed in single-column format with some additional unnumbered pages of advertisements. The editor in chief was François Rivron, a pseudonym used by historian, writer and playwright Victor Buteaux, who believed a revue to serve amateurs, professors and professional musicians was important in a city where musical culture was "the most developed than any other in France."

The journal testifies to the vitality and diversity of Angers musical activities, both from a creative and a factual point of view, an achievement in consideration of the Parisian hegemony. Indeed, Angers was well known for its "Concerts Populaires", famous since its inception in 1877, the group performed its 1,000th concert in 1948, the same musicians also played at the Angers Theater and Cathedral. According to Le Ménestrel "one could not find a comparable orchestra in any other provincial city, a group consisting of remarkable soloists." Through the originality and the quality of its musical performances, Angers became a flagship city of French musical life as the country’s second music center with twenty concerts each year, all given in-depth review. Besides the "Concerts Populaires," other symphonic or chamber groups enriched Angers musical scene including the "Société symphonique César Franck," the "Cercle Berlioz" and the Sainte-Cécile choir, to cite just a few.

VAN not only reviewed local musical events but also those of the major theaters in the capital, as well as in major foreign cities. Thus, reviews of performances by the most prestigious instrumentalists and singers of the time‒Raymond Trouard, Yves Nat, Aline von Barentzen , Jean Doyen, Alfred Cortot, Jean-Marie Darré, Karl Seeman, Witold Malcuzynski(all pianists); JacquesThibaud and Alain Fournier (violinists); Pierre Fournier and Maurice Gendron (violoncellists) and Marcel Dupré (organist), Jean Fournet, and Roger Désormière (conductors), Charles Panzera, Janine Micheau (singers) and the vocal recitalists Pierre Bernac and Francis Poulenc‒appear regularly in VAN. The journal became the mouthpiece of the J.M.F. (Jeunesses Musicales de France), an important movement using the power of music to go beyond social, geographical and economical differences to offer a musical education to school children through lectures and concerts in major cities as well as in rural areas. VAN reports that the J.M.F. concerts in Angers were consistently sold out, causing a large part of the potential public to be denied access to the concert hall.

VAN was a witness of the problematic times of the Second World War, including the lack of rubber to produce gramophone records and lack of paper for music publications. The German occupier imposed his musical taste. Severe bombing in May-June 1944 destroyed part of the city as well as VAN’s mailing lists and archives. As such VAN is a mirror French musical life during this difficult period.