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La Sirène

(Brussels, 1937-1939, 1945-1946)

Prepared by Doris Pyee
Introduction by Richard Kitson
Online only (2020)

The title La Sirène, which heads the first year of the Belgian French-language monthly music journal, was changed to Syrinx at the outset of 1938 owing to the “progressive increase in the number of advertisers, new financial means and a perfect administrative organization, permitting the greatest hopes” for the future. This positive attitude was to be cut short by the German invasion and occupation of Belgium and Holland on 10 May 1940 until liberation in February 1945. The journal resumed publication in March 1945 and continued until April 1946. In all, thirty issues were published, twenty-four between 1937 and 1939, six in the years 1945-46. In 1937 issues contain sixteen or twenty pages; in 1938 issues contain thirty-two or thirty-eight pages; while in 1939 thirty-two and thirty-six pages; double issues generally contain sixty-four pages. After the war pages are numbered consecutively annually. From the outset, the journal was produced by a Comité de Redaction [editorial committee], a general administrator and assistants. A Comité d’Honneur, made up of leading contemporary composers is given. Belgian musicologists are listed as Members.

Each issue is divided into two main parts: several articles on historical and contemporary topics by musicologists, composers and performing musicians, and a review section headed “Théâtre et Concerts,” featuring musical events (concerts and operas) both local and from abroad, reviews of publications (books and compositions) and information about contemporary music journals. The articles and reviews are printed in single column format throughout. Numerous photographs feature portraits of Belgian and French musicians and writers, photographs of musical instruments, photographs of landscapes and buildings with musical significance and reproductions of stage sets for operas and ballets. Musical examples are used sparingly. Advertisements are generally placed on recto and verso sides of cover pages and at the beginning and in the final part of each issue. Reviews of concerts and operas are found in the last part of each issue.

A considerable number of Belgian and French writers contributed to this journal, including René Bernier, Denis Dille, José Bruyr, Michel Kondracki, Pierre Poirier, Claude Delvincourt, Jean Absil, Marcel Poot, Silvestr Hippmann, Jean Binet, Tibor Fajth, George Lambrichs, Jacques Stehman, Claude Grafé, Henri Lesbroussart, J. Weterings, A. Illiashenko, Andre Comhaire, Charles Van den Borren, and Robert Wangermée. Of particular note is the “Chonique de Paris” column supplied by the young Olivier Messiaen. Biographical sketches and articles about particular aspects of the work of Belgian and French musicians form a major part of the journal: among these discussed are Pierre Octave Ferroud, Jean Absil, Gabriel Pierné, Albert Roussel, Guillame Lekeu, Auguste De Boeck and Maurice Weynandt. Great attention is paid to the music of Claude Debussy and the recently deceased Maurice Ravel.

This RIPM Index was produced from copies held by the library of the Koninklijk Conservatorium Brussel / Conservatoire royal de Bruxelles. A copy of Volume IX, no. 3 (Summer 1945) could not be located and is therefore not included in this index.